MS - 022: David McConaughy Papers
Processed by: Jaclyn Campbell
Provenance: Donated by the McConaughy Family in 1932
David McConaughy, born in 1823, was the grandson of Irish immigrants who settled in Chester, Pennsylvania in 1712. His father died when he was four years old and he was raised by foster parents. He attended Gettysburg College from 1834 until 1838 when he transferred to Washington College (presently known as Washington and Jefferson College) where his uncle, also named David McConaughy, a former Presbyterian minister in Gettysburg, was the President. He graduated in 1840. McConaughy studied law under Thaddeus Stephens and became an attorney in Adams County.
He formed a company of scouts at the beginning of the Civil War, composed of his law clients called the Adams Rifles of which he was the captain. A mere 40 days after the Battle of Gettysburg, McConaughy desired to form a national cemetery for the war victims of the Battle of Gettysburg to be located on the Battlefield. He began to purchase lots on the battlefield for this memorial and asked veterans of the battle to contribute financially. In late August of 1869, McConaughy organized a reunion of the soldiers who fought at Gettysburg to recount their experiences and locate specific historic sites on the battlefield.
McConaughy served as a state senator for Adams and Franklin Counties after the Civil War. During this time, he commissioned the painting of the Battle of Gettysburg by P. F. Rothermel. This painting, The Battle of Gettysburg, was originally housed in Memorial Hall, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, but was later moved to the Capitol Building in Harrisburg.
McConaughy was also instrumental in establishing Gettysburg's Evergreen Cemetery, where he was buried upon his death in 1902.
Scope and Content Notes:
The McConaughy collection is composed primarily of correspondence and is arranged into four series: I. History of the Battle, II. McConaughy Family History, III. Correspondence Regarding the Soldiers' Reunion of August 1869, and IV. The Establishment of the National Cemetery and all administrative matters required therein.
Reports of General George M. Meade are included in this collection, as well as correspondence from General Robert E. Lee and General George M. Meade regarding the Soldier's Reunion of 1869, and correspondence from General U.S. Grant regarding his election to Honorary Director of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association.
For additional information concerning the Adams Rifles, see also Civil War Vertical Files 1 and 2.