Hargleroad family turns the Battle of Gettysburg

Every family has its own version of history — here’s ours:

1908 house on Hargleroad farm, Guildford Springs, PA

Hargleroad house near Chambersburg, PA

“The Hargleroad farm in Chambersburg is where part of General Pickett’s army encamped. The Hargleroad men and older boys took all the livestock into the hills to protect it as the troops approached.  However, the Hargleroads and Broughs (Peter Brough is listed as a “distiller” on census records) made their own moonshine whiskey and the soldiers found it hidden in the hay.  The confederates then stayed at the farm drinking all the moonshine over the next couple days. One of the southern soldiers boasted that if he was home, he would have his negro pour whiskey in his throat while he laid in the shade. And the rest is history . . . it is said that the delay of that unit is why the south lost the Battle of Gettysburg.”

Click to read more about the history of the Hargleroad farm near Chambersburg, PA . . .

Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863

Battle of Gettysburg

Battle of Gettysburg

Though I’ve heard this family story many times over the years, I didn’t give it much credence until recently when I joined a tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania with a guide.  As part of his presentation he described how Confederate General Pickett’s forces arrived late to the battle, missing out on the first two days of heavy fighting.  I also learned that the path of the Confederate Army was indeed right down the road that passes the Hargleroad farm outside of Chambersburg.


Michael E. Hargleroad, 1824-1904

Michael E. Hargleroad

The Hargleroad Family in 1863

Michael E. Hargleroad (1824-1904) and Elizabeth Brough (1834-1882) would have been the parents on the farm. My great-grandpa William Brownlee Gabby Hargleroad was born in Feb. 1863 and still a babe in arms at the time. Michael and Elizabeth are the grandparents of my grandmother Ruth Hargleroad Rigg.

To clear up some religion confusion:

The Hargleroads were Lutheran for many generations.  Michael’s parents were both buried in the Lutheran Cemetery in Chambersburg. His father, John, had been christened in the Lutheran Reformed Church as a baby.  I am not aware of the Lutherans being pacifists.  However, Michael was 40 years old and had nine children at the time of Gettysburg and there is no record or story of his enlistment. His oldest son, Christian was 11 years old.

Lizzie Brough Hargleroad

Lizzie Brough Hargleroad

The Broughs had been Dunkards (Church of the Brethren). Lizzie was christened in the Dunkard church as a baby. This is definitely a “peace” church, similar to Mennonites and Quakers.  During the Civil War the Brethren required their members to abstain from military service, and were required to promise to follow the church’s teachings regarding “being defenseless.” Of note, they were also discouraged from gambling, and using tobacco or alcohol . . .hmmm, not sure where that fits in with the moonshine operation.


Peter Brough, Jr. Private with Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1863

Peter Brough, Jr.
Private with Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1863

Also, Lizzie’s father, Peter Brough Jr., enlisted on Nov. 4, 1862 at age 53, with the 178th Regiment, Company G, Pennsylvania Volunteers. He mustered out with company July 27, 1863, shortly after the Battle of Gettysburg.




Burning of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Burning of Chambersburg

Burning of Chambersburg

Excerpts from article at explorePAhistory.com: “When Chambersburg residents learned on the morning of July 30, 1864 that yet another Confederate cavalry raid was approaching their city, most people were not overly concerned. Rebels had occupied the city in October 1862 and again in June 1863, soon before the Battle of Gettysburg.

Around 5:30 a.m., the Confederate artillery fired perhaps six rounds over the city. Leading his cavalry into the town square, McCausland and his chief officers sat down to breakfast at the Franklin House. There the general ordered the arrest of leading citizens, including attorney J. W. Douglas, who was provided a copy of General Early’s order, and sent to tell the townspeople that the Rebels would burn the town if they did not provide the required ransom. “I then went up Market Street and told everyone I met of the rebel demand.” Douglas later recalled. “They generally laughed at first, and when I spoke earnestly about the terrible alternative, they said they were trying to scare us and went into their houses. I then went up Main Street in the same manner and with the same result.”

Photo after destruction of Chambersburg

Photo after destruction of Chambersburg

Other detainees had told McCausland that bank funds had already been removed and sent north for safekeeping. When Douglas informed McCausland that he could find no money, the general had the courthouse bell rung to call citizens to the square, and then ordered his troops to burn Chambersburg.

Rampaging through the town, Confederate soldiers broke into houses and evicted residents, smashed furniture, heaped the pieces into piles, and then set them on fire. By eight a. m. the city was in flames. As the city burned, renegade soldiers robbed citizens, looted stores, and drank whatever liquor they could find. Some demanded ransom money to spare a home, then torched it anyway after the ransom was paid.”



One Response

  1. […] Read how the Hargleroad family affects the Battle of Gettysburg and be sure to watch the short video clip in the sidebar of my dad, Robert W. Rigg, Sr., telling the story at a family reunion in 1996. […]

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