Leister Farm (Gettysburg)

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Leister House, photo © by Mike Kendra, taken April 7, 2002.

This small farmstead took on important significance during the Battle of Gettysburg when Union General George Gordon Meade occupied the home and utilized the property as the headquarters for the Army of the Potomac. On the evening of July 2, 1863, General Meade held a famous council of war in the home.

Landmark Details

  • Also Known As: General Meade’s Headquarters
  • Location: 9 Acres at Taneytown Road at the intersection with Hunt Avenue
  • Built: House, 1840; Barn, 1800
  • Occupants in July 1863: Lydia Leister
  • Current Owner: National Park Service, acquired 1933

History of the Leister Farm

The 9 acre farm was purchased by widow Lydia Leister from Henry Bishop, Sr. in March 1861 for the sum of $900. Lydia's husband had died in 1859. The 1860 Census listed Lydia with five children ranging in age from 21 to just 3.

As the last shots of the first day's battle faded and the night began, a contingent of weary officers rode into the yard of Lydia Leister's home. Situated on the Taneytown Road behind Cemetery Ridge, this humble two-room house served as headquarters for the Army of the Potomac. A modest, wood frame building with a single fireplace, the widow Leister made her living by working a small farm that included a small log barn, orchard, and vegetable garden.

By the evening of July 2, the widow's fences had been partially knocked over and the garden trampled by the passage of courier's horses. Leister's food stores had been raided by hungry staff officers and headquarters guards, and some of her furniture dragged into the yard for use as writing desks. This home would play host to one of the most important meetings that would take place during the battle.

The Leister's family left the property early in the battle and when they returned to the farm, it was severely damaged by artillery fire from the great cannonade which preceded Pickett's Charge on July 3, 1863. The one story frame and log barn just west of the house held wounded Union soldiers during the fighting, and over the years the structure was altered and enlarged.

In 1888, Mrs. Leister sold the property to the Gettysburg Memorial Association for $3,000. The farm was leased by tenants until 1933 when the National Park Service assumed responsibility for the property and stopped the leasing program.


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