There is so much history and so many stories associated with the George Spangler Farm & Field Hospital in Cumberland Township, Adams County, that I hardly know where to begin. Located just two miles from Gettysburg and minutes from the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center, the farm was 166 acres in size and was owned by George and Elizabeth Spangler at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg. Because of its strategic location between Taneytown Road and Baltimore Pike, its close proximity to water and its open spaces, it was the ideal place for the Union artillery reserve and the 11th Union Army Corps’ field hospital.
George and Elizabeth Spangler, along with their four children, ranging in age from 15 to 21, stayed at the property during and after the fighting of July 1-3, 1863. They also sheltered neighbors here and helped the Union medical personnel tend to 1,900 wounded soldiers.
One wounded officer cared for at the Spanglers’ home was Union Captain Frederick W. Stowe. Captain Stowe was the son of famed novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe. Fred’s mother wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, one of the most influential books published before the American Civil War. This abolitionist story shaped the political and social landscape before the war and eventually sold millions of copies. Serving as a staff officer in the 11th Corps, Captain Stowe was just 23 years old at Gettysburg. On July 2, 1863, Fred was wounded in the ear by an artillery shell fragment and was treated at the George Spangler Farm. He recovered and ultimately survived the American Civil War. Later, Fred Stowe disappeared from history, going missing on the west coast around 1871.
Fred Stowe’s story is just one of the interesting stories and well-known connections to this Adams County farm. I hope you will come and enjoy the living history, special programs and community events the Gettysburg Foundation offers at this now 80-acre historic site throughout the year for our community and visitors to learn many more stories like this one.
Our next community event, Family Day at Spangler, will be held on Saturday, September 3, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. This event offers a free, end-of-summer visit to the George Spangler Farm & Field Hospital. Family Day is an excellent time to join us for living history and special programming. We are adding some new experiences for the upcoming Family Day at Spangler event, with Civil War music performances and Civil War era games for the children, as well as living history, encampments, programs, historic barn preservation presented by Historic Gettysburg-Adams County (HGAC) and local favorite Mr. G’s ice cream.
On behalf of the Gettysburg Foundation, I invite area residents, families, visitors and those who enjoy history to join us at the George Spangler Farm & Field Hospital for a free day of learning history, fun and memorable experiences. All are welcome to drive directly to the property located at 488 Blacksmith Shop Road, Gettysburg, and park on-site. We look forward to seeing you and sharing history with you and your family.
Wayne E. Motts
President and CEO, Gettysburg Foundation
First appeared in the Gettysburg Foundation's column in the Aug. 23 2022, edition of the Gettysburg Times