Gettysburg Farms & Buildings


The Sherfy house on the Gettysburg battlefield

The Sherfy Farm is on Emmitsburg Road about a mile south of town (39.80329° N, 77.248849° W; map; Tour map: Emmitsburg Road). At the time of the battle the fifty acre farm was owned by Reverend Joseph Sherfy and included the famous Peach Orchard to the south of Wheatfield Road as well as both Big and Little Round Tops and the Devil’s Den. The house is the original house built in the 1840’s and still displays bullet holes in its brickwork, signs of the fierce fighting that took place around it on July 2nd and 3rd, 1863. The current barn replaced the original, which had been used by the Confederates as a field hospital but had burned during the battle.

Joseph (1813-1883) and Mary Sherfy (1818-1904) and their six children (a seventh would join the family after the war) were pacifist members of the Church of the Brethren. As the Union troops of John Reynolds’ 1st Army Corps made their way up Emmitsburg Road on July 1st they found a large water tub along the road which Joseph worked to keep filled, while Mary and her mother Catherine baked bread and passd it out to the men.

They were ordered away from the farm on the morning of the 2nd, driving their stock southeast of the Round Tops and to Two Taverns. Joseph and his son returned on the 6th to find their house ransacked and hit by at least seven artillery shells Their yard was covered with their posessions, which were trampled into the mud and mixed with blood, body parts and every imaginable kind of filth. The orchards and fences were destroyed and the fields covered with dead men and 48 dead horses. The ruins of the barn were filled with the charred remains of the men who had been unable to escape the fire.

One soldier from the 77th New York Infantry who observed it wrote, “As we passed the scene of conflict on the left was a scene more than unusually hideous. Blackened remains marked the spot where, on the morning of the 3rd, stood a large barn. It had been used as a hospital. It had taken fire from the shells of the hostile batteries, and had quickly burned to the ground. Those of the wounded not able to help themselves were destroyed by the flames, which in a moment spread through the straw and dry material of the building. The crisped and blackened limbs, heads and other portions of bodies lying half consumed among the heaps of ruins and ashes made up one of the most ghastly pictures ever witnessed, even on the field of war.”

The Sherfys cleaned, replanted, and rebuilt, and for years sold peaches from the famous orchard. It was a popular destination for the men who had fought in its fields, and one wall of the house was reportedly covered by photographs of veterans who had fought there. The farm today is owned by the National Park Service and the house is rented out.

The rebuilt Sherfy barn on the west side of Emmitsburg Road. The house is visibile amid the trees behind and to its left. Monuments to the 57th and 114th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiments are visible along the road to its right.

The rebuilt Sherfy barn on the west side of Emmitsburg Road. The house is visible in the trees behind and to its left. Monuments to the 57th and 114th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiments are in front of the barn, along the road to its right.