'Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg'
Published on Monday, May 20, 2013 - 10:11am
As a young girl growing up in Gettysburg, I often heard about the experiences of the soldiers that fought in the three-day Civil War battle. But we rarely heard about the experiences of the townspeople.
While reading Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg by Tanya Anderson, I was riveted by the first-hand accounts of the hardships that Gettysburg citizens faced during and after the battle. I learned that all the families in Gettysburg and the surrounding countryside opened their homes and barns as hospitals, and helped to care for the wounded. I learned that the Union Army left Gettysburg after the battle, and that the townspeople had to bury the dead soldiers and horses. I learned of the bravery and teamwork of Gettysburg’s citizens.
I learned that 15-year-old Tillie Pierce tirelessly helped the wounded, and was brave in a situation that most people could not have endured. She brought them food and water, tended their wounds, sang to them and read to them. Reading her words brought home the devastation and horror that had come to this quiet, country town:
“But oh! The horror and desolation that remained. The general destruction, the suffering, the dead, the homes that nevermore would be cheered, the heart-broken widows, the innocent and helpless orphans! Only those who have seen these things, can ever realize what they mean.”
The town of Gettysburg is once again a quiet, country town, and the surrounding battlefield is hallowed ground. Visitors can go to Tillie Pierce’s home, which is still there today.