Gettysburg Farms & Buildings

Site of the John and Mary Wentz Farm on the Gettysburg battlefield

Just north of the Wheatfield Road on the east side of Emmitsburg Road is the foundation of the log farmhouse of John and Mary Wentz and their daughter Susan. (39.801913° N , 77.249739° W; Google map; Tour map: Peach Orchard)

The older Wentzes were in their seventies at the time of the battle, which raged around their farm on July 2nd as John rode out the fighting in the cellar. Their son, Henry, had moved to Martinsburg, Virginia (now West Virginia) before the war, and returned to Gettysburg with Lieutenant Osmand B. Taylor’s Confederate artillery battery.(*) There is a legend that Henry commanded a battery that shelled the farm and that he was killed and buried there. But in reality he was only a sergeant, and he survived the war. Taylor’s battery did fire on the nearby Peach Orchard and did deploy along Emmitsburg Road a short distance north from Henry’s boyhood home. After the fighting died down Henry found his father sleeping in the cellar of the relatively unscathed house.

Wentz sold his farm in 1869 and died in 1870, followed by his wife and daughter. The farm came to be owned by John Beecher, a carpenter, who tore down the old structure and built a wood frame building on the foundation. It was purchased in 1908 by the War Department to include in the battlefield park. In 1960 the National Park Service removed the non-historic house, since funds to rehabilitate it were not available.

The photo looks north along Emmitsburg Road, with the Sherfy barn to the left and the Klingle farm ahead to the right in the distance. On the treeline at the far right can just be made out the white shaft of the U.S. Regulars monument on Hancock avenue, with the Copse of Trees and Ziegler’s Grove to its left.

(*) Pfanz, Gettysburg-The Second Day, p. 118