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On Friday, April 17, several folks from the Civil War Times staff joined about 300 members of the Tourism Cares organization to help clean up the George Spangler Farm at Gettysburg. The farm, which sits northeast of the Round Tops, served as an XI Corps field hospital during the battle. Recently acquired for preservation by the Gettysburg Foundation, the farm’s structures and 80 acres were in desperate need of cleanup.

Union soldiers transported Confederate Brig. Gen. Lewis Armistead to the Spangler Farm after he was mortally wounded at the apex of Pickett’s Charge on July 3, 1863. The general was placed in the Spangler’s summer kitchen, a stone outbuilding next to the house that served as the field hospital’s equivalent of a private room. He died there two days later.

Some on our staff worked on and around the summer kitchen. A thick tangle of vines covered much of the roof, a large rotting woodpile slumped against the south gable, and an unsightly modern arbor obscured the doorway elevation and the bronze plaque that explained the building’s connection with Armistead.

Many hands make light work. Within what seemed a very short time, the building’s facade shone in the bright sunshine, freed from vegetation and decaying wood.

The kitchen’s interior basically looks the same as it did during the war, when Armistead lay there as Union attendants swarmed over the farm trying to take care of 1,500 wounded men arrayed in the adjacent barn and fields. As a worker threw cement blocks into a dumpster, the booming noise they made sounded like distant artillery—maybe the cannons of the 9th Massachusetts Battery as it struggled to hold its position along the Wheatfield Road.

Originally published in the August 2009 issue of Civil War Times.