PITTSBURGH — A central Pennsylvania farm that was the scene of fierce fighting during the three-day Civil War battle of Gettysburg has reopened to visitors as a foundation and the National Parks Service work to restore the battlefield to the way it looked a century and a half ago.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the nonprofit Gettysburg Foundation bought the 80-acre Spangler Farm on the eastern edge of Gettysburg National Military Park in 2008.
Randy Grimsley, a foundation volunteer and guide, said the four buildings on the property were in terrible shape at the time of purchase and restoration work will take another four years or so.
Wheat and oats were growing when the battle raged between North and South on July 1-3, 1863. About 1,800 soldiers were treated at the barn for gunshots and other wounds, and officials say the site is one of the nation’s few Civil War field hospitals to resemble its wartime state.
About 185 Union soldiers and 20 Confederate soldiers died at the farm, including Confederate Gen. Lewis Armistead, who died July 5 of wounds received July 3 at the “Angle” at the Union Army position on Cemetery Ridge during Pickett’s Charge.
After the battle, the Spanglers sought $2,700 reimbursement from the federal government for damage to the farm but ended up getting just $60, foundation volunteer Dan Welch said.
Grimsley said steel cables had to be installed inside the old stone and wood barn to keep it from collapsing, and four feet of manure topped by weeds covered the floor. Other buildings on the property are the stone house, a summer kitchen next to the house and a small wooden smokehouse used to preserve meats.
Red-painted plywood has been erected on much of the outside of the barn until a new wooden exterior is finished.