The Sherfy Farm
The Sherfy Farm at Gettysburg is on Emmitsburg Road about a mile south of town (Emmitsburg Road tour map). The fifty acre farm was owned by Reverend Joseph Sherfy at the time of the battle. It included the famous Peach Orchard to the south of Wheatfield Road along with both Big and Little Round Tops and the Devil’s Den. The house was built in the 1840’s. You can still see bullet holes in its brickwork, signs of the fierce fighting that took place around it on July 2nd and 3rd. The current barn is a postwar replacement. The original had been used by the Confederates as a field hospital but it had burned during the battle.
Joseph (1813-1883) and Mary Sherfy (1818-1904) and their six children were pacifist members of the Church of the Brethren. A seventh child would be born to the family after the war. As the Union troops of John Reynolds’ 1st Corps made their way up Emmitsburg Road on July 1st they marched past a large water tub along the road which Joseph worked to keep filled. Mary and her mother Catherine baked bread and passed 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.
After the battle
Joseph and his son returned on the 6th. Their house was ransacked and damaged by at least seven artillery shells. Their possessions were trampled into the mud of their yard, mixed with blood, body parts and every imaginable kind of filth. The orchards and fences were destroyed. Fields were covered with dead men and 48 dead horses. Inside the ruins of the barn were the charred remains of the wounded men who had been unable to escape the fire.
One soldier from the 77th New York Infantry 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. For years they sold peaches from their 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.
Location of the Sherfy Farm at Gettysburg
The Sherfy Farm is on the west side of Emmitsburg Road about a mile south of Gettysburg.