Post Battle-Account of Gettysburg by Sgt. Isaac N. Durboraw, Co. K, 1st Pa. Reserves

Sgt. Isaac N. Durboraw
Sgt. Isaac N. Durboraw, with the company at Fairfax Court House just before they made their way north to Gettysburg.

This story of Company K of the First Pennsylvania Reserves was related to by Sergeant Isaac Newton Durboraw, a Gettysburg native. The company to which he belonged, styled the “Adams Infantry” was organized in Adams County, and made up of men from York Springs, Petersburg and Gettysburg. When the company returned to Pennsylvania during the fighting at Gettysburg, the men of this company were fighting within sight of their homes. Sergeant Durboraw, concerned for his family’s safety, left his post near the Round Tops to visit his parents’ house in rebel-occupied Gettysburg.

“Many of the company whose homes were in Gettysburg or the immediate vicinity, quietly slipped away, and believing that our work, for a while at least, was ended, I also went, saying to the boys when I started, ‘Boys if you go home, don’t fail to get back to-morrow morning.’ I am proud of the conduct of company K, at, as well as after the battle of Gettysburg, and why should I not be? These brave fellow[s] could easily imagine the dangerous surroundings of loved ones, during the terrible conflict, in their homes within the bounds of the battle-field, yet, not a man left the ranks or fled from duty, and while most of them got home after the battle, by a peculiar device, only one failed to return.

But to my story; I passed northward just in the rear of the line of battle, and through the Citizens cemetery, thence up Baltimore street to the Court-house on the corner of Middle street, which was a dangerous performance, as the whole route was exposed to rebel sharp-shooters, making it necessary to cross all streets and alleys at a bound. Having reached the point indicated, I found the residence of my father, on west Middle street one square from the Court-house, so completely covered by rebel sharp-shooters, that it was an impossible measure to go there.

l observed things closely, and saw a certain officer who was apparently not acquainted with the dangerous surroundings, turn the corner where I was standing, and walk deliberately down the middle of the street, without being molested, but, Alas! the poor fellow when he got below Washington street, was taken prisoner. So I took advantage of what I had seen, and walked down the street, with misgivings I con-fess, for doubtless many rifles were aimed at me, with a rebel finger on each trigger, ready to send as many messengers of death, if I should turn either to the right or to the left. It was an awful moment, but I determined to carry out my plan, which was to spring into a flower garden on the east side of the house, when I would reach that point, for I would then be in a safe place.

On! on, to hesitate would be fatal; and how terrible it would be to die so near to the loved ones; still on I went, not hurriedly, for the enemy must not even think that I have a purpose in view; Oh! If only the yard gate were open! Ah, it is open! A spring, and I am through it, and behind the cover of the house; I am safe, but what a shower of minnie balls strike the pavement over which I came, and how they tear through the palings of the fence on both sides of the open gate, terrible messengers they are, but harmless now as far [as] they concerned me.

Company K, the “Adams Infantry”, 1st Pennsylvania Reserves as they were at Fairfax Court House, June 1863 just prior to joining the Gettysburg Campaign.

None of the family were visible, so I entered the unlocked door of a back kitchen, which was empty, then into the main building I went and all through it from main floor to attic, and found no one; disappointed I turned to the cellar and was met on the stairway by a sister who failed to recognize me in the semi-darkness who said ‘Here!  what do you want? On the spur of the moment I said, ‘Can you sup ply me with just a bite to eat?’ With this she retired below and I followed to the foot of the stairs, and took a seat near the lower step, and this is what I then saw: father and mother, four sisters and a brother. two or three improvised beds, an almost consumed callow dip on the end of a barrel in a far off corner, and each person being a perfect image of dejection and despondency.  Sister Lucy whispered something to mother, who then entered in adjoining pantry, doubtless to get the ‘bite to eat,’ while a younger sister approached me inquiring, ‘I wonder how much longer we will have to remain in this cellar?’ I merely answered, ‘Not long,’ but I discovered that they were entirely ignorant of the state [of] affairs without.

She looked at me closely, and then followed mother into the pantry.  Presently, mother approached me, bearing a huge piece of bread in her hand, and peering very closely into my face, then as if in glad surprise, she ejaculated, ‘Oh, you bad fellow, I know you now! Here’s your supper.'”

City Letter Carrier at USPS | | Website | + posts

Currently a resident of Burke, Virginia - I'm originally from the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have been a student of the Pennsylvania Reserves since 1997 and thoroughly enjoy telling their story. By trade I'm a former IT Professional but presently working as a Letter Carrier for the United States Postal Service.