A Historic Year
Gettysburg College in 1863
"There was no one among us who had the smallest comprehension of all that an invasion of our soil could mean."
- Henry Eyster Jacobs, Class of 1862
When the Confederate army advanced into Pennsylvania in June 1863, no person or place went untouched by the events that followed. The invasion made refugees of College janitor John Hopkins and his family. It made soldiers of the 54 students who joined Company A, 26th Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia. On June 26 the Company met with the "bronzed and scarred veterans" of the Confederate army on the outskirts of town. The boys, many of whom had never fired a gun, retreated, and several became prisoners of the enemy.
On July 1 the battle arrived. That afternoon, the Union XI Corps retreated from its position north of town. As they swept across the northern grounds of Gettysburg College, the troops brought with them a barrage of gunfire, turning the quiet campus into a deadly battlefield. Pennsylvania Hall later became a Confederate field hospital. As the battle raged on, staggering casualty counts made medics out of every available man and woman, College students and faculty included.
By 1863, Gettysburg College had employed John Hopkins for nearly two decades. As the school's janitor, Hopkins made a decent wage and provided well for his family. They lived in an on-campus home just north of Pennsylvania Hall. The approaching Confederate army, however, posed the disturbing threat of enslavement. The Hopkins family fled Gettysburg, forced to become refugees alongside much of the town's Black community. When the family finally returned to their home, they found that it had been ransacked by Southern soldiers. When John Hopkins died in 1868, much of the College community attended his funeral, mourning the man who had become a popular figure on campus.
Erected by Gettysburg College.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. 1971 T.C. Williams High School Football Team Honor Oak (within shouting distance of this marker); The History of Gettysburg College (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Gettysburg College Veterans Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); The College Hospital (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Battle Arrives (approx. 0.2 miles away); U.S.A. Signal Station (approx. 0.2 miles away); "United to Serve" (approx. 0.2 miles away); For the Union Cause (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Gettysburg.
Categories. • African Americans • Education • War, US Civil •
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Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 8, 2014, by Karl Stelly of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 321 times since then and 14 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on August 8, 2014, by Karl Stelly of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.