06 March 2010

Not So Blissful Farm

The fighting on July 2nd shifted to the area in front Cemetery Ridge, and placed the Bliss farm in the middle of the battle field. The farm owned by William Bliss consisted of 60 acres, with a house and barn. The area changed hands many times over the next two days. Finally ending with the buildings getting burned down just before the Pickett - Petigrew - Trimble Charge.

William Bliss and his wife Adeline moved to Gettysburg from upstate New York in 1857. They had lost three of their five children and moved to the Pennsylvania area looking for better weather and farming. William was in his early sixties at the time. The original farm bought in 1857 from Alexander Cobean included 53 acres, William added another seven the next year. The Bliss family had a small house, bank style barn and an orchard. On the morning of the battle William, his wife and two daughters; Frances and Sara left the house quickly, leaving the “doors open, the table set, the beds were made” taking nothing with them.

On the morning of the 2nd of July the 1st Delaware Infantry was sent forward as part of a skirmish line set up around the Bliss Farm, with Colonel Andrew L Harris using it as his headquarters. The farm was about a half mile from the Union front line. Colonel Harris had to pull his troops back after a fight with Confederate General Carnot Posey’s brigade, as his men used up their ammo. The 12th New Jersey took the buildings along with about 80 prisoners, but they were also driven out. As the attack by the Confederates continued on the July 2nd the Bliss Farm compressed the Confederate line and this with the 8th Ohio’s flanking fire near the Emmitisburg Road stalled out the movement. Ending the fighting with the Confederates’ holding the ground on the Bliss Farm.

On the morning of the 3rd of July the 14th Connecticut and the 12th New Jersey were sent out to take the buildings in their front. The 14th which was able to occupied the Bliss house found themselves out flanked, and made a run for the barn which was then being held by the 12th New Jersey. As it became clearer to the Union commanders that these building would hard to hold onto, and that there was an action coming, Union Brigadier General Alexander Hays ordered, “the house and barn in our front, which interrupted the fire of our artillery, to be burned.”

William Bliss came back to find nothing left of his farm. He filed a claim for damages of $1,256.00. As the Government dragged its feet in paying on any claims, Mr. Bliss sold his holdings to Nicholas Codori in October 1865 for $1,000. The family moved to Jamestown, New York, were Mr. Bliss died in 1888, and his wife followed him in 1889. The United States government finally granted the family’s claim in 1902. There is a story that when William Bliss sold his farm to Mr. Codori he said, “Let it go. I would give twenty farms for such a victory.”

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