This piece was transcribed and edited by Michael J. Birkner and Richard E. Winslow.
With fighting concluded at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, the enormous task of burying the dead, treating the wounded, and rehabilitating the town began in earnest. Although Gettysburg looked and smelled worse than it ever had or ever would again, thousands of people arrived on the battlefield in the days and weeks following General Robert E. Lee's retreat. Some came to minister to the sick and reclaim the bodies of neighbors and loved ones; others scavenged souvenirs of the battle. Of the many visits to the battlefield in July 1863, few have been more affectingly described than the account of Joseph H. Foster of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
In the document reprinted below, of a speech Foster delivered at the Unitarian Sabbath School in Portsmouth on July 26, 1863, he describes a brief trip to Gettysburg from which he had just returned. His objective in going to Gettysburg was straightforward: he wanted to locate the body of his neighbor and friend Henry L. Richards and bring it back to New Hampshire for a proper interment. [excerpt]
Birkner, Michael J. and Winslow, Richard E.
"A Visit to the Battlefield,"
Adams County History:
Vol. 11, Article 5.
Available at: http://cupola.gettysburg.edu/ach/vol11/iss1/5