One of the things I love about studying Civil War history on purpose is learning more about the people who lived during these events. Not just the generals and famous spies or politicians, but everyday people whose lives were forever changed because of a battle.

Last summer in Gettysburg I heard the story of a girl named Elizabeth. She was a teenager during the battle of Gettysburg. Though she didn’t die during the battle like Jennie Wade, the guide who told us her story considered her to be a casualty of the battle just the same.

When war went to Gettysburg during the summer of 1863, Elizabeth’s parents took their family and fled to a farm south of the town. The move was especially hard on Elizabeth, who had a heart condition.

However, in the days and weeks leading up to the battle, Elizabeth’s condition was slowly getting worse and she was becoming more of a burden on her family. During the stress of the battle and its aftermath, her parents quietly made the decision to let nature take its course with their daughter.

Unfortunately for her parents, Elizabeth was old enough to understand what was going on. She didn’t make a big fuss with her parents, but quietly confided to her brother that she was furious with their parents. She also insisted that she would never forgive them for just letting her go.

The story of Elizabeth concludes with her death, roughly ten days after the battle of Gettysburg. She was buried quietly in a local cemetery, and this should be the end of her tale.

But is it? I haven’t found much to back up the story we were told on that tour. I’ve done some research but it’s hard to find information when you only have a first name and a rough guess as to when a person passed away. I know what cemetery they said she was buried in, but I don’t know if her grave is marked.

What I can tell you is that if the story of Elizabeth is true, then I saw her. Twice. In the woods near East Cemetery Hill, almost 150 years after she died.  

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