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 Preserving the Legacies of Seminary Ridge, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania               info@seminaryridge.org

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Seminary Ridge Buildings The Historical Significance of three Seminary Ridge Buildings

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.

Schmucker Hall
(Old Dorm)

Krauth House

Schmucker House


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 the Seminary.

Other Issues
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.

 

   
   
   
 

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Seminary Ridge Historic Preservation Foundation 
61 Seminary Ridge, Gettysburg, PA 17325
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