Faces of Gettysburg: Josephine Miller the Unsung Heroine of Gettysburg

Faces of Gettysburg: Josephine Miller the Unsung Heroine of Gettysburg

Amid the historic Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, a young woman named Josephine Miller, only 23 years old, played a remarkable role in providing comfort and sustenance to soldiers on both sides. Living in a modest log farmhouse on the west side of Emmitsburg Road, south of Gettysburg, with her grandparents, Peter and Susan Rogers, Josephine’s selfless actions during the battle have become a poignant chapter in the annals of American history.

Josephine’s Act of Valor
As the 1st Massachusetts Infantry was deployed around the Rogers’ farm during the second and third days of the battle, Josephine, against Union orders, insisted on staying in the house to bake bread for the soldiers. Even in the face of danger, she remained steadfast, caring for the wounded from both sides until the battle’s conclusion.

Josephine’s altruism knew no bounds. As her flour supply dwindled, six members of the 1st
Massachusetts volunteered to acquire provisions, including flour, raisins, currants, and a whole sheep, ensuring a hearty meal for all.

Monument Dedication and Recognition
In 1886, a monument was erected to honor the 1st Massachusetts Infantry and the veterans generously funded Josephine’s journey from Ohio to attend the dedication ceremony. During the event, a photograph was taken with Josephine standing proudly next to the stove she used to bake bread for the soldiers. General Slocum acknowledged her bravery in his address, highlighting her resilience during the artillery duels and her generosity of spirit by refusing payment for the bread she provided.

The Stove and Symbolic Bread
The photograph captured Josephine holding a loaf of bread, symbolizing her commitment to providing sustenance even in the midst of chaos. The stove, a tangible link to her wartime efforts, was placed in front of the monument, creating a powerful visual representation of her enduring contribution.

General Slocum’s Tribute
General Slocum’s tribute during the ceremony recounted Josephine’s unwavering dedication, emphasizing how she continued baking bread even as Pickett’s men charged past her house. Her dwelling, found riddled with shot and shell after the battle, became a refuge for wounded soldiers seeking shelter.

Josephine Miller’s story, often overlooked in the grand narrative of the Battle of Gettysburg, stands as a testament to the resilience and compassion displayed by ordinary individuals in extraordinary circumstances. Her unwavering commitment to providing comfort and sustenance amidst the chaos of war deserves to be remembered and celebrated as an integral part of America’s rich history.

There’s so much to learn and see in historic Gettysburg. Book your stay at the historic Tillie Pierce House Inn today!