Applied Archaeology and the Civil War Trust go In Search of General Lee's Headquarters, Gettysburg.

After the battle ended in 1863, the site, alternatively known as General Lee's Headquarters or Mrs. Thompson's House and which lay in a critical portion of the Gettysburg Battlefield, spent the next 150 years catering to the accommodation needs of the tourist who came to visit the battlefield.  Once the farmstead of a poor widow and then the headquarters of a Confederate general, the site next became a campground before changing again in the late 20th century with the construction of a motel.  The widow's house was converted into a museum and her old barn became a restaurant to serve the hungry tourists flocking to the area.  In 2014, the owners decided to sell the four acre property and the Civil War Trust made the purchase with the goal of restoring the property to the conditions which existed in 1863 - picket fence, cedar shake roof, orchard, dog house and all.  

Mrs. THompson's House/General Lee's Headquarters on the edge of Gettysburg

Mrs. THompson's House/General Lee's Headquarters on the edge of Gettysburg

Applied Archaeology and History Associates, Inc. was contracted by the Civil War Trust to conduct archaeological investigations in advance of the proposed changes.  Grund surfaces were examined and subjected to a metal detector and ground penetrating radar surveys, while test units were excavated to investigate the condition of the house's foundation.  

Rear of Mrs Thompson's House/General Lee's Headquarters During Renovations

Rear of Mrs Thompson's House/General Lee's Headquarters During Renovations

From the results of these multiple surveys, we determined that the years between the battle and the present had been exceptionally destructive.  The construction of the motel and its pool had left no remnant of the former farm or the battle which raged around Mrs. Thompson's house.  Using the results of the Ground Penetrating Radar, we di identify what we anticipate to be the foundation of the Riggs House on the opposite side of Route PA 30 from the Mrs. Thompson's house.  Located beneath the parking lot that is associated with the James Thompson House, these foundations will be left undisturbed and preserved in place. 

With the all clear for cultural resources, the Civil War Trust proceeded with the renovation of the house and lands surrounding the old house.  On October 28, 2016 their work was finally complete and a ribbon cutting ceremony was held to to show off their accomplishments.  Photos and more information on the event can be found here

Civil War reenactors in formation during the Civil War Trust's Ribbon Cutting ceremony for General Lee's Headquarters

Civil War reenactors in formation during the Civil War Trust's Ribbon Cutting ceremony for General Lee's Headquarters