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Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg

Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg

By: Tanya Anderson
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books
Publication Date: January 2013
ISBN: 978-1467706926
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: April 24, 2013

The winds of war were in the air, swirling around Gettysburg and families prepared for the onslaught. The Shrivers and the Pierces, residents of the town, grew fretful when they heard “alarming news about growing tension between the Southern and Northern states.” Troops were converging on Gettysburg and families began to prepare, hiding their valuables and stockpiling food. Tillie Pierce, a fifteen-year-old girl, nervously watched the changes around her. The free blacks, fearing for their lives, began to move because they knew “they were in danger of being captured and dragged back into slavery.” Some fled to the woods while others sought shelter with families in the community.

The shouts began to ring out while Tillie was in class. “Children,” Mrs. Eyster urged, “run home as quickly as you can.” The desperate Rebels, led by Major General Early, were filling the streets. They began to plunder and loot the town, demanding food and stealing horses, including Tillie’s. The town became silent as they moved on and a few days later Union soldiers began to arrive and shots were fired. Hettie Shriver came knocking, asking for Tillie’s help with her children. She was going to head to her parent’s farm on Taneytown Road. Surely they would be safer there, so the Pierces agreed to the request.

Three miles seemed like a hundred as they waded through mud, trying to get to the farmhouse. The safety they longed for was not to be had, because the horrors of war quickly descended upon them. An explosion rocked the air and they “saw a man thrown high in the air and come down in a wheat field close by.” The man was brought into the Weikert household, but he would be the first of hundreds to fall in battle. Tillie began to hand out water to anyone in need, but soon knew that “instead of being safer out in the country, she and the others in the house were in great danger.” The Battle of Gettysburg and begun ... around the farmhouse.

This is a stunning account of Tillie Pierce, a teenager who witnessed the Battle of Gettysburg. Later, upon the urging of others, Tillie wrote her own story, excerpts of which are in this book. Instead of fleeing to a safe haven, Hattie Pierce, her young daughters, and Tillie found themselves in the midst of battle. The history of the Battle is here, but seen through the eyes of a teen the glories of war are definitely absent as she recalls piles of amputated limbs and hundreds of dying men. She tends to them as best she can, all the while fearful for her own family. The pages are liberally illustrated with black and white photographs, maps, and contain numerous informative sidebars. In the back of the book is an index, an amazing activity (Taking Tillie’s Path: An Activity Using Google Earth), source notes, a selected bibliography, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore. This is a Junior Library Guild Selection.

Quill says: This is an amazing book that young people interested in learning about the Civil War should definitely have on their list!

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