Gettysburg Off the Beaten Path: Josiah Benner Farm

Modern view of the Benner Farm.

Modern view of the Benner Farm.

Part of a Series.

On the north side of Rock Creek, along the Harrisburg Road, sits the Josiah Benner Farm. At the time of the battle the farm encompassed 123 acres of the Gettysburg battlefield and served as the front lines of the Federal 11th Corps. The farm was also used as a divisional field hospital for Major General Jubal Early’s Confederate division.

The farmhouse, barn, and spring house saw action as Early’s division rolled down the Harrisburg Road toward Blocher’s (Barlow’s) Knoll. Four companies of Lt. Col. Douglas Fowler’s 17th Connecticut Infantry were deployed in and around the farm buildings and to the right of the Harrisburg Road. These four companies constituted Barlow’s forward right flank. The remaining six companies of the 17th Ct. moved to the top of Blocher’s Knoll on the south bank of Rock Creek.

The four companies at the Benner Farm were quickly overwhelmed by Early’s afternoon attack. Brigadier General John B. Gordon’s Georgia Brigade and elements of Brigadier General Harry Hays’ Louisiana Brigade swept the Connecticut men from the field.

The barn on the Benner Farm. The National Park service was working on the barn when this picture was taken in the spring of 2013

The barn on the Benner Farm. The National Park service was working on the barn when this picture was taken in the spring of 2013. The barn and three acres were acquired by the National Park Service in 2001. The remaining 9 acres were acquired by the Civil War Trust in 2011.

After the action died down around the farm the temporary field hospitals were erected. Federal division command Francis C. Barlow was wounded in the action atop Blocher’s Knoll. Left behind behind in the 11th Corps route, Barlow was removed from the knoll to the shade of some trees by one of Early’s staff officers. The general was then taken by some of his captured men to the second floor of the Benner Farm. Barlow spent only one night in the farmhouse, he was moved the next day to the home of John Crawford, on the north side of the town.

The farm has been nursed back to health by the National Park Service and Civil War Trust. The two groups were able to preserve 12 of the original 123 acres of land, which includes the home, barn, and spring house. In the artillery duel between Lt. Col. Hilary Jones’ battalion of Confederate artillery and Lt. Bayard Wilkeson’s Battery G, 4th United States Artillery, the home was struck by a number of shells. One shell is still lodged in the rear of the home.

To reach the Josiah Benner Farm, take Carlisle Street/Bus. 15 North to East Lincoln Ave. Turn right onto East Lincoln Ave./Bus. 15 North. At the Y intersection bear left following Bus. 15 North which will then turn into the Old Harrisburg Road. Follow the road approximately one half mile. As you cross Rock Creek the farm will be on your left. Parking is available near the barn.

Authors Note: There are two Benner farm’s made famous by the battle. The other farm is the Christian Benner Farm, which will be discussed in another post. That farm is on the east side of Gettysburg.

J Benner Farm Map

About Kristopher D. White

Civil War author and historian.
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4 Responses to Gettysburg Off the Beaten Path: Josiah Benner Farm

  1. The Josiah Benner Farm is one of my favorite Gettysburg farms. I like the traditional brick house architecture, but the added on wooden porch makes it a unique and instantly identifiable building. (And yes, the porch is shown in 1863 photographs.)

    I also find it interesting that 3 CSA surgeons arrive at the farm to examine General Barlow, and the same surgeons care for him at the Crawford home, suggesting he may have been moved at their insistence and they were doctors with influence and rank. Unfortunately, Barlow neglected to mention the surgeons’ names, leaving this historian with many questions and much speculation.

  2. Barbara DeStephano says:

    I so hope it ends up in the hands of the park and not private and that living history programs would take place there.

  3. Eleanor Benner says:

    We would like to know if either Josiah or Christian are relatives since we are Benners too. When I was at Gettysburg as we were LEAVING the cemetery, someone mentioned they saw a Benner headstone but we were on a bus!

    • Don Thompson says:

      Eleanor, I know of one relative who is also connected to my family but not via the Benners. Bill Benner lives in Dayton, OH and his daughter, Brenda Saunders, lives in Kettering, OH.

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