York’s Angels of Mercy – Mary Fisher
Mary Cadwell Fisher well after the Civil War in her East Market Street home in downtown York, Pennsylvania. Courtesy of the York County Heritage Trust.
Mary C. Fisher was the wife of the judge of York, Robert Fisher. She had witnessed the march of John Gordon’s Georgia brigade through the town on June 28, and had suffered through the subsequent occupation of the town by Jubal Early, who had threatened her husband that he would burn the locked county courthouse to the ground if Judge Fisher did not produce the keys. Mary would be among those York residents who ministered to the wounded following the Battle of Gettysburg.
When news arrived in York that a battle had started at Gettysburg, Mrs. Fisher hastened there to extend her assistance. She was out in the fields at the foot of Little Round Top when she encountered a stricken young drummer boy from a Rhode Island infantry regiment. She leaned over the boy, who calmly whispered, “Kiss me before I die.” Exhausted and frail, the lad was dying far away from his New England home and his own beloved mother, and the friendly face of the Pennsylvania woman comforted him in his final minutes on Earth. She kissed his pale cheek and tenderly held the young soldier in her arms until he breathed his last.
His broken drum lay not far from the boy. In the days following the battle, it was picked up by Jacob Weikert, a local farmer whose house was nearby. Weikert, typically thrifty as with most of the local German farmers, found a utilitarian purpose for this discarded martial instrument. For the next sixteen years, he used the old wooden drum as a hive for his bees!
In the months after the battle, the drummer boy’s grieving mother arrived in Gettysburg to search for her beloved son’s burial place. She wanted to recover his body and transport it home to Providence for burial. Unfortunately, she failed in several repeated trips to locate the gravesite. It was not found until 1867, when the remains were identified and dug up, placed in a coffin, and transported via railcar to Providence. The young Rhode Island musician had finally come home, and he was buried with his family present.