CSI: Gettysburg

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Confederates occupied the Shrivers’ home during the Battle of Gettysburg. Tillie Pierce, the Shrivers’ neighbor, recalled her father’s account of what he saw in the Shrivers’ garret (attic) during the fighting:

The south wall of this house, had a number of port holes knocked into it, through which the Rebels were firing at our men. All at once one of these sharp-shooters threw up his arms, and fell back upon the garret floor . . . afterward they carried a dead soldier out the back way, and through the garden.  

 Another eyewitness, Mr. John Rupp, confirmed Union soldiers “. . . killed two up in Mr. G. Schriver’s house. . .”.   

Almost 143 years later, the residue of blood was still evident. Investigator Det. Lt. Nick Paonessa, a Crime Scene Investigator from New York, used BLUESTAR® FORENSIC, a blood reagent, to reveal the presence of blood directly underneath the portholes knocked through the Shriver's attic wall during the battle. According to their website, “. . . the oldest blood discovered by BLUESTAR® FORENSIC was that of two confederate soldiers that were killed at the Battle of Gettysburg."  

Det. Lt. Paonessa first tested the attic floor boards in an inconspicuous area to be sure there would be no damage the original flooring. Satisfied with the results, he then saturated the floorboards immediately below the loopholes the Confederates used to shoot through in July, 1863 with the BLUESTAR® FORENSIC blood reagent. The results were astonishing.      

In an area about six feet in diameter a bright green luminescence confirmed the presence of blood. Numerous bright spots, from ¼” in diameter to the size of a nickel, revealed evidence of blood splatter. The shadow of a wiping motion was clearly observed, obviously produced by someone cleaning up the blood-laden scene. The brightest luminescence was visible where the boards came together. This was due to blood clotting as it seeped through the slight gaps between the floorboards. Paonessa’s experience led him to believe though witnesses declared two soldiers were killed in the Shrivers’ attic, there were definitely more than that shot. In his opinion there was an excessive amount of much blood for just two men.

The Shriver House Museum is extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with Det. Lt. Paonessa and his team. He was pleased to learn the presence of blood more than 140 years old can still be detected and, of course, we were pleased to have scientific evidence of the bloodshed in the attic of the Shriver's home.