Historical significance of Seminary Ridge
Seminary Ridge is best known as the site of the first day's fighting in
the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863). The campus of the Lutheran
Theological Seminary--begun at this site in 1832--contained three
buildings that became the center of the fight on that first day.
Three Civil War Buildings
Schmucker Hall (Old Dorm) - Already 31 years old by the time of the battle,
the four-story brick building could be seen from miles in each direction.
Early on the first day of the battle, Union General John Buford viewed
advancing Confederate forces and coordinated his cavalry's defenses from the
building's cupola while waiting for I Corps Commander General John Reynolds
and the infantry to join in the engagement. Later in the day and the
battle, Confederate commanders likely used the same vantage point to view
Union Army positions. The building also became a hospital for the wounded
from both sides.
Krauth House, built in 1834, was a faculty home, first occupied in 1839.
Between 1850 and 1865, the house was occupied by Dr. Charles Philip Krauth
and his family. On the first day of the battle, Krauth House was the very
center of the Union line and, later that day, was on the northern edge of
the Confederate line. The house served as a hospital for both Union and
Confederate soldiers during and after the Battle. Today it serves as housing
for students and families.
Schmucker House was completed in 1833 and occupied by the founder and first
chair of the faculty, Samuel Simon Schmucker. Throughout the battle, the
house was in the midst of the fighting; as the center of the Confederate
line of defense it sustained damage from Union artillery stationed on
Cemetery Ridge and from the Confederate defenders. Today the house
accommodates faculty offices, a conference room and a formal meeting parlor.
Campus - The main point of the first day's battle. The Union Army's Iron
Brigade made its heroic stand here. Later in the battle, General Lee set
his headquarters tent just outside the northern edge of the campus near the
Chambersburg Pike and directed the remainder of the Confederate battle from
Seminary Ridge also played an important role in other key Civil War issues:
Abolition of Slavery - Seminary founder Schmucker was well known as a strong
opponent to slavery and played a major role in the movement. Pro slavery
factions targeted him for punishment; his home on campus was ransacked by
Confederate soldiers aware of his abolitionist activities.
Underground Railroad - The Schmucker House on
campus, specifically a barn related to it is likely to have been a station on the Underground Railroad.
Moral, Social and Cultural Issues of the Civil War - As a training ground
for theological educators and leaders, the Seminary was very active in
defining the moral issues of war, peace and freedom. Schmucker was the Lutheran church's most clear advocate for the end of slavery, writing and preaching against the institution, and persuading his wife, who inherited slaves, to free them.