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          23rd Pennsylvania

Joshua Simster Garsed

1st Lt. Company B, 23rd PA

Killed at Gettysburg-July 3rd 1863

On this page you will be able to view twenty letters written by Joshua Simster Garsed during the American Civil War. Tragicaly he was killed on July 3rd at the Battle of Gettysburg, ending a promising life before it had a chance to develop.

1st Lt. Joshua S. Garsed
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Grave of Joshua S. Garsed 2002
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Stalban's Church. Church that Joshua attended
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Stalban's Church. Church that Joshua attended
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Early Days

Joshua Simister Garsed, the eldest son of Joshua Garsed, Junior, and Susan Worrelll Garsed, was born on November 11th 1839, presumably at the “Monastery” (The Livezey House) on the Wissahickon (Creek), at that time just northwest of Philadelphia, (Today, Roxborough is part of the city of Philadelphia) where his parents were living at the time.

Young Man

He graduated from Central High School in Philadelphia in 1857, and went to work in the Law and Collection office of Messrs. Bullitt and Fairthorne in Philadelphia, where his father and brother, Frank also worked, as evidenced by the headings of many of the following letters. Like his Father, he was a vestryman of St. Albans, the first Episcopal Church in Roxborough where he attended as a teen and young man. It was situated near the house on Leverington Avenue, below Ridge Avenue, where Josh’s parents lived during the war years with his brothers, Frank and Harry. When they were not in the Army, which they were at various times, and with his young sisters, “Cassie” or Catherine Louise (later Janney) and Josephine (later Prowattain).

Civil War Service

Soon after the outbreak of hostilities, Joshua S. Garsed enlisted in the 23rd Pennsylvania Volunteers “Birney’s Zouaves” on August 2nd 1861, as a corporal. He was proved to be such a quality individual and soldier, that he was promoted several times, first to Sergeant, then to 2nd Lieutenant (October 20th 1861), and finally to 1st Lieutenant (July 12th 1862). He was taken prisoner, at White's Ford (Poolsville) on the Potomac a little more than a year after his enlistment (September 15th 1862) and was consigned to Libby Prison until exchanged on November 5th 1862. Early in June of 1863 Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army invaded Pennsylvania, pursued by the Army of the Potomac.


They caught up and collided at Gettysburg, with fateful results. On July 3rd 1863, the 23rd Pennsylvania was placed to the right and rear of Meade’s Headquarters near the Taneytown Road after spending the previous evening defending the earthworks on Culp’s Hill. At around 5:30 P.M, Joshua Simster Garsed was struck by a solid shot between the right shoulder and neck area and was instantly killed. His brother Frank stated that the impact “tore him to pieces”. In the words of a Newspaper letter to the Transcript written by a member of the 23rd Pennsylvania on August 11th 1863 it was stated:

Michael Frey Farm
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New Headstone for Joshua 2007
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Memorial Ring with Josh's Hair
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Inside of Ring with Engraving
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“We fell back from our lines on the Rappahannock, June 13th, and by forced marched by night and by day, retreating and advancing, we reached the battlefield on July 2nd in time for our First Division to turn back Joe Reb, and probably save a disaster to our Army. On the 3rd inst. Our Corps (Sixteenth Sedgwick’s) was under one of the heaviest shot and shell fires ever on this continent, acting as reserves and supports. Our regimental loss was slight, one killed and fifteen wounded. Near dusk First Leiut. Joshua S. Garsed was struck by a Whitworth shot and instantly killed. Garsed had been with the regiment since August 2nd 1861, participating in the Peninsular and Maryland Campaigns of 1862, and became distinguished for his coolness, bravery, and moral worth. He was beloved by all. His blood now consecrates Pennsylvania soil, another martyr to the Union.”

Joshua Garsed 2nd Lt.
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Plaque inside Stalbans Church
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July 19th Obituary
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Livezeys House (Garsed's Birthplace)
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His Remains Temporarily Buried

His body was removed from the field and taken to The Michael Frey Farm about a Half of a Mile South on the Taneytown Road. It was buried in a Shallow Two Foot Grave behind the House on the Late evening of the Third. Joshua Garsed Sr. was notified of his sons death by letter from the Chaplain of the 23rd PA, James Shinn. Joshua's Father and Brother Frank, made their way from Philadelphia to Baltimore to Hanover Junction and finally to Gettysburg on 11th of July. He made his way to the Home of Dr. Huber who took him to the Frey Farm. A Box was ordered at the cost of Fifteen dollars. Two Farmers disinterred the body and Josh Sr, noticed the care that was taken burying his son in a temporary grave. After identifying his son, he called Frank over and Frank said, "That's Josh". The odor was very offensive and the corpse was darkened due to being buried in a warm, water filled grave, due to the heavy rains of the 4th and 5th and the clay ground that kept the water. On the afternoon of the 12th Joshua Garsed's remains were taken to East Cemetery Hill to the tent of Dr. William Burnell for disinfectment. Joshua's Father clipped a piece of his sons hair and placed it in his pocket as witnessed by Frank. It was treated with Charcoal and Clorate of Lime. When finished there was no odor and the remains were preserved and placed in a new box. The box was then taken to the Adams Express Office and shipped back to Roxborough at the cost of $15.

The Marker at Gettysburg

Discovery of Joshua's Items

While in Gettysburg Joshua Garsed Sr and Frank Garsed visited hospitals to find soldiers that witnessed Joshua being killed. A soldier then took them to the site on the evening of the 12th. Frank Garsed had a piece of iron engraved with "JSG" placed in the ground and the family visited the site for the next twenty years. The site of Death was just east of Meade's Headquarters, on the eastern side of The Taneytown Road. Joshua's Sword and Watch were sent home and were lost until 2003 until discovered in an attic in Philadelphia by Frank P Marrone Jr. The Home was that of Emily Prowwatain, who had the original letters and transcribed them in the 1950's. Also in the attic in a chest were photos, letters, a sword and a gold ring with a lock of Joshua's Hair which Joshua's father had made for Joshua's Mother as a memorial to him.

The Garsed Letters/Related Garsed Letters

Of the twenty-four letters in this collection, twenty-one are from Josh himself, most of them to his brother Frank. His father wrote one of them to him only a few days before Josh’s death at Gettysburg. Another by the regimental chaplain, (James G. Shinn) informed his father of his death. The letter by Captain Jessie Simcox relates to the final return of his possessions to his family. Also included is his release from Libby Prison, a telegram announcing that release, and a detailed description by his father of the journey to Gettysburg to reclaim his body. The funeral took place at his father’s residence on Sunday July 19th 1863 in Roxborough, Pennsylvania, at 4 o clock P.M. It was attended by officers of the 23rd , his family, friends and many members of the church. The hearse was taken to Leveringon Cemetery in Roxborough where he was buried with military honors next to his grandfather. He lies there today in Section 14, Lot 21.

American Hero

In life, Joshua Simster Garsed was a young and promising man with a career in Law. He loved very much his entire family evidenced by his constant asking of them in these letters. He was a deeply devoted “believer and supporter of the Holy Religion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” as stated by Chaplain Shinn of the 23rd. He was also an American Hero, who at a troubled time in The History of the United States, when the country was on the verge of splitting up, he seen the call of duty and enlisted to serve his Country. He served it faithfully even unto death. By reading one of his letters in which he describes his Gold Watch, you even can tell that Joshua felt that he might forfeit his life. May the memory of Joshua Simster Garsed, and the 23rd Pennsylvania never be forgotten!

Joshua Garsed Sr. (Joshua's Father)
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Original Garsed Letters
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Frank Discovers Sword
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Original Garsed Letters
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Joshua S. Garsed Letter 1
Joshua S. Garsed Letter 2
Joshua S. Garsed Letter 3
Joshua S. Garsed Letter 3
Joshua S. Garsed Letter 4
Joshua S. Garsed Letter 5
Joshua S. Garsed Letter 6
Joshua S. Garsed Letter 7
Joshua S. Garsed Letter 8
Joshua S. Garsed Letter 9
Joshua S. Garsed Letter 10
Joshua S. Garsed Letter 11
Joshua S. Garsed Letter 12
Joshua S. Garsed Letter 13
Joshua S. Garsed Letter 14
Joshua S. Garsed Letter 15
Joshua S. Garsed Letter 16
Joshua S. Garsed Letter 17
Joshua S. Garsed Letter 18
Joshua S. Garsed Letter 19
Joshua S. Garsed Letter 20
Joshua S. Garsed Letter 21
Garsed's Fathers letter to Joshua a few weeks before his death.
Joshua S. Garsed's release from Libby Prison
Joshua S. Garsed Telegram
Letter from Captain Jesse Simcox
Letter from Chaplain James G. Shinn

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The information to put this write-up together was taken from the following sources:

  • “Life of the 23rd Pennsylvania “Birney’s Zouaves” ,William J. Wray 1904, 1999,2004
  • The Joshua Garsed Letter Collection
  • Decendants of Joshua Garsed
  • Research and Studies of Frank P. Marrone Jr.
  • Died at Gettysburg by Jeff Kowalis

    "Died at Gettysburg" by Jeff Kowalis (Click to Purchase)

    © October 25, 2010 - "Birney's Zouaves" The 23rd PA Infantry Volunteers
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