The True Story of How General Stephen Weed Died at the Weikert House During the Battle of Gettysburg

General Stephen H. Weed (USA). Image Source: National Park Service.

Stephen H. Weed was an officer in the Union Army during the Civil War, serving in Artillery Regiments. He was the Chief of Artillery for the Fifth Corps during the Battle of Fredericksburg and the Battle of Chancellorsville. As Union forces retreated from Chancellorsville, his artillery batteries successfully covered the retreat, and he was given an honorary promotion to Brigadier General. At Gettysburg, he helped defend Little Round Top on July 2, 1863, the Second Day of the Battle. He was mortally wounded and died that night at the Weikert House, which served as a field hospital.

Battle of Gettysburg, Union Advance
Battle of Gettysburg. Image Source: Library of Congress.

Tillie Pierce’s Account of the Death of General Weed at the Weikert House

This account of the death of General Stephen H. Weed comes from the memoir of Mrs. Tillie Pierce Alleman titled At Gettysburg or What a Girl Saw and Heard Of the Battle; A True Narrative.

Alleman was a native of Gettysburg and 15 years old at the time of the battle. Her narrative of the battle was published in 1889 and serves as an eyewitness account of the brutality and horrors that were witnessed in and around Gettysburg before, during, and after the battle.

By the second day of the battle, Pierce had taken refuge at the Weikert House, outside of Gettysburg. However, as the battle intensified and spread the house was used as a hospital. It was there that she encountered General Stephen H. Weed after he was wounded during the defense of Little Round Top against multiple assaults by Confederate forces under the command of General John Bell Hood.

Please note that section headings and minor text corrections have been made to the original text.

Battle of Gettysburg, 1863, View of Gettysburg
Gettysburg in 1863. Image Source: The Photographic History of the Civil War, Volume 2,

July 2, the Second Day of the Battle of Gettysburg

On this evening the number of wounded brought to the place was indeed appalling. They were laid in different parts of the house. The orchard and space around the buildings were covered with the shattered and dying, and the barn became more and more crowded. The scene had become terrible beyond description.

That night, in the house, I made myself useful in doing whatever I could to assist the surgeons and nurses. Cooking and making beef tea seemed to be going on all the time. It was an animated and busy scene. Some were cutting bread and spreading it, while I was kept busy carrying the pieces to the soldiers.

Pierce Meets General Weed

One soldier, sitting near the doorway that led into a little room in the southeast corner of the basement, beckoned me to him. He was holding a lighted candle in his hand, and was watching over a wounded soldier who was lying upon the floor. He asked me if I would get him a piece of bread, saying he was very hungry.

I said certainly, ran away and soon returned. I gave him the bread and he seemed very thankful. He then asked me if I would hold the light and stay with the wounded man until he came back. I said I would gladly do so, and that I wanted to do something for the poor soldiers if I only knew what.

Tillie Pierce Alleman, Portrait, Battle of Gettysburg
Tillie Pierce, circa age 15. Image Source: At Gettysburg,

Her Promise to General Weed

I then took the candle and sat down beside the wounded man. I talked to him and asked if he was injured badly. He answered:

“Yes, pretty badly.”

I then asked him if he suffered much, to which he replied:

“Yes, I do now, but I hope in the morning I will be better.”

I told him if there was anything I could do for him I would be so glad to do it, if he would only tell me what. The poor man looked so earnestly into my face, saying:

“Will you promise me to come back in the morning to see me.”

I replied: “Yes, indeed.” And he seemed so satisfied, and faintly smiled.

The man who had been watching him now returned, and thanked me for my kindness. I gave him the light and arose to leave.

The poor wounded soldier’s eyes followed me, and the last words he said to me were:

“Now don’t forget your promise.” 

I replied: “No indeed,” and expressing the hope that he would be better in the morning, bade him good night.

Pierce Discovers Weed Has Died

The sun was high in the heavens when I awoke the next day.

The first thought that came into my mind, was my promise of the night before.

I hastened down to the little basement room, and as I entered, the soldier lay there — dead. His faithful attendant was still at his side.

I had kept my promise, but he was not there to greet me. I hope he greeted nearer and dearer faces than that of the unknown little girl on the battle-field of Gettysburg.

As I stood there gazing in sadness at the prostrate form, the attendant looked up to me and asked: “Do you know who this is?”

I replied: “No sir.” 

He said: “This is the body of General Weed; a New York man.”

Pierce Sets the Record Straight on the Location of Where Weed Died

As concerning many other incidents of the late war, so with the death of this brave general, I find an erroneous judgment has been formed; some claiming that he was instantly killed on Little Round Top, during the fight of the second day.

Weed was Wounded on Little Round Top

That General Weed was mortally wounded on Little Round Top while assisting at Hazlett’s battery on account of the scarcity of gunners, is well established. That Lieutenant Hazlett was instantly killed, while bending over the prostrate form of his commander to catch his dying message, is also undisputed; but that General Weed died on Little Round Top is a mistake.

Battle of Gettysburg, Little Round Top
Little Round Top, July 1863. Image Source: Library of Congress.

Weed Was Moved from Little Round Top to the Weikert House

What is more likely than, that after being severely wounded, he should be taken down the eastern slope of the hill, away from the conflict, reaching the Taneytown road at its base? What more probable than, on reaching that road that they should carry his body away from the field by going toward the south? Why would they not carry him into Mr. Weikert’s house when that was the first place they reached, that was used as a battle hospital?

Doubtless General Weed was carried from the field as dead, but the place and circumstances of his death, are given in the preceding lines.

Tillie Pierce at the Weikert Farm During the Battle of Gettysburg

This video from the Adams County Historical Society provides an overview of the Weikert House, Tillie Pierce, and the Battle of Gettysburg.