Sarah Margaret Bushman “Sadie” was born 19 August 1853 in Cashtown, Adams County, Pennsylvania. Her family lived in Gettysburg at the time of the Civil War. Here is an amazing account of this dear little heroine and my relationship to her. Grace Honor Bushman is my Great-grandma.
If Only We Had Known
by Becky Bushman Shields
When you were in school and studied about American History and the Civil War did you know that you had Bushman relatives that lived in Gettysburg? Did you know there was a Bushman Farm in the very center of the Battlefield? Did you know there were also several other Bushman family farms near by?
Perhaps if you and I had only known that we had family who lived there we would have paid much closer attention to what actually happened in the worst battle in our American history. Did you know more lives were lost at Gettysburg than any other battle before it? Perhaps if we had known, we would have cared more about the families who lived there and how it affected them for the rest of their lives. Perhaps if we had known the story I’m going share with you it would have made a big difference. For me personally it has made all the difference.
If only we had known!
Let me begin by introducing you to a little nine-year-old girl named Sadie. Sadie is your relative. Her given name is Sarah Margaret Bushman, but she was known as “Sadie.” This is a true story about her and her family.
Around 3:00 a.m. the morning of July 1, 1863, Sadie was awakened and told to dress quickly and hurry on ahead to her grandmother’s house which was only a couple of miles away. Soldiers had been arriving by the hundreds and it seemed there would be a battle very soon. The Bushman family needed to flee for safety.
Sadie dressed and left with her little brother William. Her parents Emanuel and Catherina promised they would come as soon as possible with the other younger children. Sadie was very afraid of being in the dark but knew the way go. It was starting to get light when they heard the loud sounds of gunfire and cannons going off near them. They were knocked to the ground by a huge explosion! A cannon ball had miraculously missed them. Sadie and William were stunned and terrified to realize they were in the battlefield. They were in helped up by a Union Surgeon and taken the rest of the way to their Grandparents home. His name was Dr. Benjamin Franklin Lyford. His medical tents were set up right in her Grandparents yard and Orchard. Sadie loved going to Grandma’s but that day it was totally different. Things were in complete and total chaos. There was no time to think and process what was happening. There were the sights and sounds of wounded and dying men all around her.
Regardless of her young age Dr. Lyford put Sadie to work. A badly wounded soldier was brought to the front yard and needed his leg amputated immediately to save his life! Putting what was left of the soldier’s leg over a carpenter’s saw horse, Dr. Lyford turned and said to Sadie, “give him a drink of water while I cut off his leg.” Sadie did as she was told and witnessed the entire gruesome operation. It was the first of many such surgeries she would assist Dr. Lyford with. Sadie was exhausted from working day and night helping to care for the endless wounded and dying men. She hard such a hard time sleeping because of the heat, the flies, and the horrible smell of blood and rotting flesh. More than anything else she worried about her family. Where were they? What happened to them? Were they all dead? Is that why they didn’t keep their promise? These unanswered questions only made concerns, fears nightmares worse.
After two very long horrific weeks of separation, Sadie was finally reunited with her family. All of that time her parents had hoped and prayed their children and made it safely to Grandma’s. Sadie found out that her mother had gone into labor while preparing to leave their home. She had to have the baby in the cellar as the battle had begun and Cannons were firing from their yard. They were unable to leave or get a message to any of their family. What a joyful reunion it was to all be together again. All of them had survived the 3 day battle. There was still so much to do trying to survive and still help with the thousands of soldiers. So many had died and were dying everyday from their wounds.
For the next five months, Sadie helped Dr. Lyford. She helped to feed the soldiers who couldn’t feed themselves. There were so many who had lost hands, arms and legs. She was able to cheer and comfort them with her child-like innocence. The soldiers all loved her for her tender care and service to them.
Many years after the battle was over and all the men and horses were buried a mysterious letter is found in the pages of an old book in a second-hand book store in St. Louis Missouri. It was far from Gettysburg. The man who found this old letter was Paul Everett. Paul was touched by the sincerity of the letter that he had it published in the newspaper. This letter was written by a soldier who was trying to locate and thank the little “Angel” who had given him a drink of water as his leg was being cut off after the battle at Gettysburg. He believed her name was Sadie Bushman and he was pleading with his comrades to help find her. This was the very same soldier Sadie had helped! Paul then wrote to Gettysburg inquiring about Sadie. He found that she had married a man by the name of Edward Jungerman and they had moved to California several years before. It is believed that Paul had an accident as he disappeared and Sadie never heard from him or received the treasured letter.
By chance or divine orchestration, Dr. Benjamin F. Lyford was reading an article in his local newspaper that caught his attention. It was a copy of the article Paul Everett had printed in the St. Louis newspaper. It talked about a soldier looking for a little girl by the name of Sadie Bushman. Dr. Lyford could not believe his eyes! He had thought of Sadie many, many times over the years and wondered what had become of that brave little girl. After thirty years, Dr. Lyford was able to find and reunite with Sadie Bushman Jungerman. Can you imagine their complete and total surprise to find out that Sadie had lived the past 15 years just miles from Dr. Lyford’s home!
As a thank you to Sadie for her courage and service back in Gettysburg, Dr. Lyford gifted Sadie and Edward a little cottage of their own on his beautiful large estate. He had become a very successful wealthy doctor over the years, specializing in the embalming process which was being pioneered during the Civil War.
Sadie had a baby girl Edith who died before her first birthday and they weren’t able to have any more children. Sadie had been a nurse most of her life, in addition to caring for her invalid husband Edward.
How fitting and appropriate that Sadie, the youngest nurse at the Battle of Gettysburg, was later given the newspaper headline title: “THE HEROINE OF GETTYSBURG.”
If Only We Had Known.
Below is the transcription and the newspaper article:
Printed in the Gettysburg Compiler
Gettysburg, PA., January 12, 1892, No. 20.
From San Francisco Call, Dec 31, 1891
The Part That a Brave Little Girl
Played During the Battle.
She Was Only Nine Years Old, But She
Served General Meade’s Army for
Two Weeks in the Capacity
In yesterday’s Call appeared a brief ac-
court of an incident of the great battle of
Gettysburg, in which a California lady played
an active part. A Call representative,
who called upon the lady, now Mrs. Edward
Jungerman, at her pleasant home, 822
Twenty-second street, in Oakland, was
treated to an interesting chapter of remi-
niscences of that memorable engagement,
such as must be a never-failing source of delight
to the juvenile Jungermans when,
childlike, they clamor for “a story.”
Mrs. Jungerman, then Sadie Bushman,
was a month or so less than 10 years old on
that bright July morning in 1863, when her
mother awakened her early with the startling
news that 40,000 men of Lee’s army
were within a few miles of the town, hurrying
on to join tbe main line at Cashtown.
The Federals were already in the field, and
it would not be long before tbe opposing
forces would be struggling fiercely for possession
of Seminary Ridge, the rocky emi-
nence on which Buford’s forces were already
“They are going to shell the town,” her
mother said, “and we must all get away.”
In a few minutes their plans were made.
Sadie was to take her little brother and
hasten to her grandmother’s, some two miles
down the valley. There were several smaller
children who, “in charge of their father
and mother, would follow as quickly as
Taking tight hold of her little brother’s
hand, the little girl started out. Her
parents, with the babies, came a little dis-
tance behind, but hardly had they reached
the street when a surging crowd of frightened
people hurrying to some place of safety
bore the two children away from the rest of
the party. It was two long weeks before
the brave little girl saw father or mother
again, and during those two weeks they
mourned her as dead.
Keeping out of the crowd as best she
could and holding fast to her little charge,
the child kept on her way toward her grand-
mother’s. It was not long, however, before
the pathway along which the two fled
brought them directly into the thick of the
fight, on the side of Seminary Ridge, among
the Union forces. On every side men were
falling. The air was thick with smoke.
The roar of artillery, the quick word of
command, the groans and cries of the dying
all struck terror to the child’s heart as she
hastened on. Her little brother clung to her
in despairing affright, but she soothed him
as best she could, realizing clearly in her
young mind that any minute might be their
last. There was no use to retreat; danger
lay behind as well as before. They could
only press forward, so on they hurried.
Suddenly there was a blinding flash, an ex-
plosion louder than any yet, and something
whizzed by her, whipping her short skirts in
its flight A gray-bearded officer seized the
two children and dragged them to one side
“ What an escape” he exclaimed. “That
was a shell!” Taking Sadie’s hand, he hur-
ried the two down the ridge in tbe direction
of their destination, and a few minutes later
breathless and nearly dead with fright, they
reached their grandmother’s farm-house.
”Things were almost as bad there
though,” said Mrs. Jungerman,” and every-
body was in an excitement of heightened con-
fusion. Just as I got there some Union
soldiers came, bearing another between
them, whose leg bad been terribly shot. A
surgeon was with them and they said the
leg must be cut off at once. There was no-
body there but us to help. The men could
not be spared from fighting. Then the surgeon
tnrned to me and asked me if I could
hold a cup of water to the poor man’s month
while the leg was being taken off. I was
terribly frightened, but I saw that I must
do it, so I stood where I was told and held
the cup as directed. I had to see the whole
operation, and I can remember every cut as
plainly to-day as I saw it then. They laid
the leg over a carpenter’s horse before they
began to operate. They did not take the
man into the house, but; performed the ope-
ration out under a big apple tree that grew
in the farm-house yard.
“Well, that was the beginningof the most
fearful two weeks I ever knew. Father and
mother did not come. I never saw them
until two weeks later; none of us knew
whether the others were alive or dead,
There was plenty to be done, though, to
keep us too busy to think. The churches
and school-houses in town were tuned into
hospitals, and even we children, those who
had the nerve to do it, had to help nurse
the wounded. I used to carry soup and
broth and feed those that couldn’t help
themselves. I reported every day to the
officers of the Christian Commission, and
they told me what to do, and it was day and
night work sometimes. I helped at other
operations, too, and, in fact, did what I
History has given us full particulars of
the awful carnage in that frightful battle.
There were over 7000 wounded Confederate
captives and more than 13,000 wounded
Uuion men to be cared for in those impro-
vised hospitals. It was a time to try the
souls and nerves of strong men and earnest
women. What the brave little nine-year-
old maiden must have suffered of fright,
home-sickness, anxiety and pain is easier to
imagine than to describe. Mrs. Jungerman
did not attempt to describe it to the Call
representative. She simply shivered at the
memory, even after this lapse of years, and
contented herself with saying it was an
It was a gala day for the little girl when
her father and mother with the rest of the
family were once more united, at the
end of the fortnight, under the old farm-
house roof. The horrors of war had held
them helpless elsewhere in the town, equally
busy, unable to proceed through the line and
only daring to hope against hope that the
two children were safe with their grand
Mrs. Jungerman cherishes a grim reminder
of that dreadful time in the form of a
paper-weight made from a minnie ball taken
from the skull of a rebel who fell on that
Mrs. Jungerman has been a resident of
Oakland for fifteen years.
A Child’s Benison.
AN OLD SOLDIER REMEMBERS WITH GRAT-
ITUDE A CUP OF WATER.
The following, from the Chicago Inter-
Ocean recalls an episode of the war, which,
connected as it is with the life history of a
lady now living in our sister city of Oakland,
is of more than ordinary interest to Cal-
ifornians. A dispatch from St Louis, under
late of December 8th, to the Inter-Ocean,
says: To the Editor. Will you kindly pub-
ish in your paper the inclosed copy of a
letter found by me in an old book in St.
Louis. The old soldier never finished it,
but he asked that it be published, so I send
a copy. I sent to Gettysburg for information
as to the girl, and find she is the daughter
of one of Gettysburg’s most respected citi-
zen’s. She is now living in Okland Cal.,
and is the wife of Edward Jungerman, I
enclose the picture of the lady.
ST. LOUIS, Nov. 15, 1830.
In the first day’s battle of Gettysburg I
had my leg shattered by a shell and was
taken to a field a short distance from town.
The farm was owned by a man named Bushman,
a wagon-maker. A motherly old lady
and little girl came up to me. The surgeon
turned to the little girl and said: “Hold
his cup of water to his lips,” which she did,
and stood by while they cut off my leg.
They did the best they could in those trying
times to care for me and others, and I have
aIways hoped to reward that brave little
girl, but have never been able. I wrote to
the surgeon, but he had gone where we all
must go some day. I ask the boys of the
Grand Army to do what I have never been
able to do. The girl was with the wounded
and sick and did all she could, and shells
flying all around. I heard she used to go
every day to the hospital. They all loved
that innocent little girl. She told me her
name was Sadie Bushman. She was only 9
years old, aud the old lady was her grand-
mother and her parents lived in Gettysburg.
Now, boys, see justice done her, the heroine
There were several Bushman farms in the battlefield areas. Here is the home where Michael Bushman lived:
If you visit the Gettysburg Museum today, you will learn more about what it was like to live in Gettysburg during this time.
Here is a hand saw that was used by doctors in Gettysburg to amputate limbs:
This is a photo of Dr. Benjamin F. Lyford, who performed the surgery.