"Every conceivable wound that iron and lead can make, blunt or sharp, bullet, ball and shell, piercing, bruising, tearing, was there...."
1lst Lt. Frank A. Haskell, U.S.A.
Aide to Brig. Gen. John Gibbon
In the three days at Gettysburg, 7,708 soldiers were killed. 26,856 were wounded. Never before had there been so many dead, dying, and maimed on an American battlefield. The human misery was monumental, as was the task of caring for the wounded and burying the dead.
Schools, churches, homes, and farm buildings - including John Slyder's farm in front of you - were converted into emergency shelters and field hospitals. Clothing and sheets were ripped for bandages, and barn doors became operating tables. Army surgeons labored until they collapsed. Amputated arms and legs accumulated in piles.
Doctors, nurses, and volunteers remained at Gettysburg four months to care for the wounded. Citizens also responded to the soldiers' suffering with donations of money, food, letters, and gifts.
Few civilians were injured during the battle, but many, like the Slyders here, lost property, livestock, and crops.
A Painful Scene
A trooper of the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry served picket duty here at the Slyder farm the night after the battle:
"The house was being used as a field hospital and was filled with wounded upon whom the surgeons were engaged in their revolting work. As fast as the men died their bodies were taken out of the house and into the rain and left there temporarily. The scene was so painful and sickening to us that we determined to remain with the picket reserve out in the pitiless downpour of rain."
"Killed" do not include wounded who died after the battle. Figures are based on incomplete records. Confederate losses may have been as high as 28,000.