This weekend marks the 155th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, which took place during the War Between the States. Names like Little Round Top, Seminary Ridge and Devil’s Den became familiar to Americans and historians in the succeeding years. While there were many Ohio regiments at the three day battle between the Union forces of the North and the Confederate forces of the South, it is unknown if many Miami County ‘boys’ were present on July 1-3, 1863. But, there was a young lady present during the fighting, and she later lived in Troy with her husband.
The Rogers and Slyder families had lived near the community of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for several years, but when the war encroached on them, specifically during those three hot and humid days of July, the families left their farms to seek temporary refuge in other locations.
As the families readied to vacate their home, the Rogers family’s 26 years old daughter Josephine was preparing bread for the journey. But her family was ready to go before the bread was finished, so with a warning of the approaching troops, the family left with the promise that she follow as soon as the bread was baked.
Near the time of her departure, some soldiers made their way to the house and inquired as to if the scents they were detecting was fresh bread baking and asked if it was possible to acquire some. She gave them some, but when asked if there would be more she had to tell them she had run out of supplies and could not get to the market. Before long, several of the men returned with some bags of flour and other items from their camp. Probably quite hungry and not realizing the danger they were putting her in by asking if she could bake more bread, Josephine found it difficult to refuse these brave and hungry young men.
As it turned out, she could not turn down the men in need and continued to bake bread, but soon the battle commenced all around the area. At first she heard stones hitting the side of the house, but soon came to the realization that they were lead balls fired from muskets making the noise. Frightened of all that was happening and angry that she had not left earlier Josephine continued on with her chore.
Soon wounded and dying soldiers sought out the house as a refuge from the fury, and she and other soldiers assisted them down into the cool cellar of the farmhouse. She continued to work baking, caring for the wounded as a nurse, and in whatever other way she could, without the benefit of much sleep.
Finally, the battle ended after three days of intense fighting and dead soldiers from both sides were given quick burials in shallow field graves. The wounded from her house were gathered onto wagons to be taken to hospitals facilities for more complete care and comfort.
A few months later, she and some of her family listened to the President at the dedication of the new cemetery in Gettysburg. “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth … “
In the minds of some, Josephine’s acts may not seem like much, but 23 years later, when the first reunion of the battle took place, along with the dedication of several regimental monuments, she was sent a personal invitation to attend the ceremony; which she did with her husband. At the ceremony, Josephine (Rogers) Slyder of Troy, Ohio received a special commendation for her bravery and acts of kindness in the middle of a battle. It meant a lot to her.
Following the war, Josephine married neighbor and sweetheart William Slyder and moved to Ohio, where several other members of her family resided. In 1880, the family was recorded in the census in Madison Township, just west of Dayton. Around 1883, the couple moved to Troy and there resided on
South Crawford Street for the rest of their lives. William worked for the Troy Sunshade Company, while Josephine made a home for their children. William and Josephine both died in 1911 and were interred in Riverside Cemetery.
Very few people passing the grave monument of “Slyder” realize that they are passing by the last resting place of one of the “heroes” of Gettysburg.
Patrick D. Kennedy is archivist at the Troy-Miami County Public Library’s Local History Library, 100 W. Main St., Troy. He may be contacted by calling (937) 335-4082 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org