Former York PA resident accidentally killed himself after the Battle of Gettysburg

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Baltimore Sun, August 8, 1863. Courtesy of newsinhistory.com


At times when attending Gettysburg talks and battle walks, I hear someone comment that Jennie Wade was the only civilian casualty of the Battle of Gettysburg. I smile inwardly when I hear that phrase. It is true that she was the only civilian to be killed during the battle, but she most certainly was not the only non-military casualty. Several residents of the town were wounded, a couple rather seriously, and an older man named Ephraim Whisler suffered a major heart attack on July 1. An artillery shell exploded overhead as he rushed from his house to investigate a battle line of Union cavalry in his yard. The unexpected shock and trauma caused his heart to malfunction. The unfortunate Whisler died a few weeks after the battle ended. His house is part of the Gettysburg National Military Park; in the yard is the “First Shot Marker” which commemorates an Illinois cavalryman who reputedly fired the first shot of the battle.
Quite a few citizens of Adams County died in the months following the bitter conflict, most from handling live shells and loaded weapons. A few, including the sheriff of York, expired from diseases contracted while visiting the tepid battlefield, which for weeks was littered with dead and festering carcasses of slain horses, mules, and livestock.
Among the dead was Samuel Waring, a former stove dealer from the Towson area of Baltimore County in northern Maryland. He had been doing provost work, cleaning the battlefield of debris and ensuring that locals did not steal discarded or abandoned government property. In 1860, according to the U.S. Census, the 37-year-old Waring and his 21-year-old wife Sarah then lived in York PA in the household of the Peter Swartz family.

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