Gettysburg Farms & Buildings • Thompson House • Thompson House Interpretive Trail

The Life On Seminary Ridge wayside marker is one of five on the grounds of the Thompson House, known as Lee’s Headquarters, on the north side of Chambersburg Road (US 30) on Seminary Ridge. (39°50’05.7″N 77°14’41.8″W; map)

Life on Seminary Ridge wayside marker on the Gettysburg battlefield

From the marker:

Lee’s Headquarters at Gettysburg

Life on Seminary Ridge

“Three more acres or less on which are erected a one and a half story stone dwelling house and frame stable … directed and sold and struck off the same unto Thaddeus Stevens, trustee of Mary Thompson, for the sum of sixteen dollars—Deed dated Jan. 28, 1846.”
—Sheriff’s Docket for the sale of this property

People had been living peacefully in and around Gettysburg for more than 75 years before the Civil War brought two mighty armies to the town and forever changed its character and landscape. Mary Thompson, a widow since the 1840s, lived in the stone house in front of you for seventeen years before the Battle of Gettysburg. Mrs. Thompson raised her children here, tended a small garden, and was comforted by a dog with its own little house. By the summer of 1863, the widow’s children had grown and moved out—one lived directly across the road—and Mrs. Thompson lived alone in the stone house. Her closest neighbor was Casper Henry Dustman, whose home stood just east of the Thompson house.

Located on the Chambersburg Pike on top of Seminary Ridge, her home was all but bound to become a significant battlefield feature. Union cannons dealt death and destruction from her yard and Union soldiers formed a line of battle on her property’s edge. After a fierce fight, Confederate soldiers, cannons, and even the army’s commander, Gen. Robert E. Lee, occupied her property. Soldiers were buried here. You are standing on historic and hallowed ground.

From the caption to the inset photo at left:
At an 1846 Sheriff’s sale, Radical Republican Congressman Thaddeus Stevens purchased this property “in trust” for Mary Thompson, pictured here. The two co-owned the property at the time of the battle. – Courtesy Gettysburg National Military Park

From the caption to the photo at right:
Michael Clarkson built this stone house during the 1830s. Most likely he took the stone from the railroad cut just steps to your right. You can see the doghouse against the leftmost wall. – courtesy Library of Congress

Closeup of the Life on Seminary Ridge wayside marker on the Gettysburg battlefield