The Lutheran Theological Seminary, situated on the west side of Gettysburg, played a major role during the Battle of Gettysburg, from its large building used as an observation post, to being used as a general’s headquarters, and ultimately being utilized as a large field hospital to treat soldiers from both sides. All these events transpired on some of the longest-occupied ground by either side during the battle.

In July 1863, Gettysburg’s Seminary campus was home to between 30 and 40 people who lived, worked, and studied there. Unfortunately for these residents, their small crossroads town was on a collision course with history as two opposing armies set their crosshairs on Gettysburg. The events of that summer would forever place Gettysburg and the Lutheran Theological Seminary in the annals of history. Samuel Simon Schmucker, the founder and president of the seminary in 1863, recalled after the battle, “The injury to the property of the Institution is considerable” and that his home, located just south of the large seminary building, was “most damaged” by some “thirteen cannon balls or shells pierced the walls and making several holes of which were from two to three feet in length and nearly as broad.” Although the physical damage to the campus would be repaired over time, the Seminary’s role during the battle will be forever cemented into the history books as being both a place of great struggle and a place for soldiers to return for reunions as they helped heal the nation that was once bitterly divided.

Kaleb Kusmierczyk is the visitor services and education coordinator at the Seminary Ridge Museum and Education Center.

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