The house of James Warfield is southwest of Gettysburg on the corner of Wheatfield Road and West Confederate Avenue. Many additions have been made to the house since the war, but underneath the extra stories and add-ons the original stone walls remain.
James Warfield was a 42 year old widow with four daughters when he moved to Gettysburg from Maryland in 1862. He was a blacksmith, and reportedly had “one of the best blacksmith stands in the county,” running his business with two hearths out of an adjacent wood frame shop on the 13 acre farm.
The coming of the Confederate army posed more of a threat to Warfield and his family than to most other Gettysburg civilians. The Warfields were free African-Americans, and would be taken south and sold into slavery if captured. James and his family wisely left town. And though they escaped with their freedom, they still suffered considerable loss.
The Warfield farm was very close to the fighting on July 2 and 3. Kershaw’s South Carolinians formed there for the attack, and artillery was posted just to the east of the house, drawing Federal counterbattery fire. Longstreet’s staff may have used the house as his headquarters for a time. Although some wounded were treated there, the buildings were never formally designated as a hospital, possibly because they were so close to the fighting.
According to claims filed after the battle, the Warfields lost 50 bushels of wheat and 60 bushels of corn worth over $500, and fences worth $50. All of James’ valuable smithing equipment such as his anvils, bellows and tools were taken. Two head of cattle and 3 hogs probably became dinner for Kershaw’s South Carolinians. The orchards, gardens and buildings were all badly damaged. Fourteen Confederates were buried in his garden.
Most of the loss was never compensated, since the damages were caused by Confederates rather than the U.S. Government. Warfield was eventually paid $410. James put the devastated property up for sale in 1864 but no one was interested. He moved to Cashtown in 1871 and died in 1875 at the age of 54.
Warfield’s house and land became part of the park in 1974. Recently it has housed workers doing park road construction, and during the sesquicentennial became a communications center wired up with a computer network that would have amazed the army telegraphists of 1863. The plans are for the house to eventually be restored to its Civil War appearance, if funding ever becomes available.