The House in July of 1863


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General Lee's Headquarters Museum
Gettysburg, PA

This picturesque house was built in 1834 and at the time of the Civil War was owned by the noted statesman Thaddeus Stevens. It was on July 1, 1863 that General Robert E. Lee established his personal headquarters in this old stone house. An ideal location, it was at the center and rear of his battle lines and it was on the same road that many more of his troops were quickly approaching.


Mrs. Mary Thompson

At the time of the battle, the house was the dwelling place of Mrs. Mary Thompson, who was known by the residents of Gettysburg simply as the "Widow" Thompson. She was not excited about having her house occupied by a "Rebel," but she "…testifies that the gentlemanly deportment of General Lee whilst in her house, but complains bitterly of the robbery and general destruction of her goods by some of his attendants."

In the Spring of 1922 the house was opened to the public as the Lee Museum by Mr. C. F. Daley who began displaying artifacts and relics found on the battlefield and brought back to town by visiting veterans. Since that time, the museum has been in continuous operation and remains one of the oldest museums in Gettysburg.

At the time of the battle of Gettysburg, the Thompson house was probably a duplex. The eastern side of the house was occupied during the period of the battle, while the western side was occupied by the widow Thompson. While the battle raged outside, Mrs. Thompson and her daughter-in-law with two small children probably sought shelter in the cellar beneath the house. Lee's staff chose this house not only because of this close proximity to the center of the Confederate line, but also because the house with its thick wall afforded the General some physical protection from artillery shells.

Continue on and learn about some of the soldier's stories...

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