The monument to Union Sergeant Amos Humiston is in Gettysburg beside the fire station, on Stratton Street between York Street and the railroad. (39.83205° N, 77.228715° W; Google map) The monument was dedicated in 1993. It is the only monument to an individual enlisted man on the Gettysburg battlefield.
From the tablet on the monument:
Near this spot on July 1, 1863 a Union soldier fell mortally wounded. When a local resident found the unidentified body, he also discovered a photograph of three children. News of this poignant find was soon widely covered by the press, and copies of the photograph were distributed and sold for charity. One of these reached Mrs. Phylinda Humiston of Portville, New York, who now realized that her husband, Sergeant Amos Humiston of Company C, 154th New York Volunteers, had been killed. The plight of the Humiston children – Frank, Frederick, and Alice – touched an outpouring of sympathy and donations from throughout the North, leading to the establishment of a Soldier’s Orphan’s Home in Gettysburg in 1866. Sergeant Humiston’s body was removed from here to the Gettysburg National Cemetery.
The Amos Humiston Story
Shortly after the battle the daughter of an area tavern keeper, Benjamin Schriver, found the body of an unidentified soldier lovingly clutching an ambrotype photo of three children. She brought the photo back to her father’s tavern in Graeffenburg where, like many mementos from the battlefield, it became a local attraction.
Fate in the form of a broken down wagon brought Dr. John Bourns from Philadelphia to the tavern. When he saw the image he knew that somewhere a family needed to know the final resting place of a missing father.
Dr. Bourns talked Schriver into giving him the photo, which he copied in the popular carte de visite format. Some copies he sent to newspapers throughout the North, while he sold others to raise funds.
For weeks the story spread, then in October the news came from western New York – the family had been found. A friend had passed on a copy of a newspaper, and a family who had received no letters or news since the great battle had their worst fears confirmed. Dr. Bourns traveled there and in an emotional meeting presented them with the original photo and the funds that had been raised.
An orphanage was founded in Gettysburg on Cemetery Hill under Dr. Bourn’s direction and the Humiston family came to live there, with Phylinda Humiston on the staff. But Gettysburg was not a happy place for them, and they moved away after Phylinda remarried. Years later the orphanage would come to an end in charges of mismanagement and mistreatment of the children.
The Humiston children had moved on long before then and did well in their lives. All attended Lawrence Academy in Massachusetts. Fred became a successful merchant and Frank a doctor. And although she would eventually die in a tragic accident, Alice outlived them all, until 1933. Three lives that were profoundly changed by the act of a loving father who wanted to look at his children one last time.
See more on the 154th New York at Gettysburg
See more on the 154th New York in the Civil War