Origins of the borough

The borough of Gettysburg was established in the late 1700's by James Gettys. By 1800, the borough became the seat of Adams County. Gettysburg was primarily a farming community, but there was some light industry. At the time of the battle, there were about 2,400 residents of the borough. There were ten roads radiating from the town square, and it was this road network that contributed to the concentration the Confederate and Union armies on July 1,1863.


The town's residents, like John Burns, felt so compelled to fight for their side that they joined the battle. John Burns was 74 years old, and was a local shoemaker. At 74 years old, he was the oldest person to take part in the battle. Others felt compelled to fight because the war affected them as well as everyone else. It hit small residents the most. Towns were on the brink of becoming ghost towns when everyone left for the war. The residents had to constantly live in fear as everyday went on. It pushed men to the limit where they must go and try to help stop the war themselves. On the third day of battle, an innocent citizen named Jennie Wade was baking bread in her home when a shot was fired and went through her door. The shot hit her and instantly killed her. Her death was the only civilian death in the battle.