"Tell Mother Not to Worry": Soldier Stories From Gettysburg’s George Spangler Farm

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Ronald D. Kirkwood
Pub Date:
June 2024
Hard cover, d.j., 6 x 9
7 maps, 91 images, 320 pp.
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About the Book

The George Spangler farm in Gettysburg is a place of reverence. Nurses held the hands of dying soldiers and prayed and spoke last words with them amid the blood, stench, and agony of two hospitals. Heroic surgeons resolutely worked around the clock to save lives. Author Ronald D. Kirkwood’s best-selling “Too Much for Human Endurance”: The George Spangler Farm Hospitals and the Battle of Gettysburg established the military and medical importance of the Spangler farm and hospitals. “Tell Mother Not to Worry”: Soldier Stories from Gettysburg’s George Spangler Farm is Ron’s eagerly awaited sequel.

Kirkwood researched thousands of pension and military records, hospital files, letters, newspapers, and diaries of those present at the hospitals on Spangler land during and after the battle. The result is a deeper and richer understanding of what these men and women endured—suffering that often lingered for the rest of their lives. Their injuries and deaths, North and South, brought not only tragic sadness to parents, spouses, and children, but often financial devastation as well.

“Tell Mother Not to Worry” profiles scores of additional soldiers and offers new information on events and experiences at the farm, including the mortally wounded Confederate Brig. Gen. Lewis Armistead. This sequel also includes another chapter on the often-overlooked First Division II Corps hospital at Granite Schoolhouse, a wounded list for that division, and a chapter on Col. Edward E. Cross, who died at Granite Schoolhouse in the middle of Spangler land. Kirkwood concludes by continuing the story of George and Elizabeth Spangler and their four children after the war and ends with an uplifting chapter on their modern-day descendants and how they were found after the release of “Too Much for Human Endurance.”

With this sequel, Kirkwood brings further understanding of the lives of the soldiers and their families and completes the story of George and Elizabeth Spangler’s historic farm.

Advance Praise


“Following in the footsteps of his best-selling book ‘Too Much for Human Endurance,’ Ron Kirkwood has taken his enlivened portrait of the George Spangler farm—an integral Civil War hospital site at Gettysburg—and magnified the humanity of that story as an immersive experience for us all. Harnessing the power of several previously unpublished sources, he skillfully guides our understandings beyond the hospital as a place of despair and death to a place of hope and survival.” — Britt Isenberg, Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide and co-author of Gettysburg’s Peach Orchard: Longstreet, Sickles, and the Bloody Fight for the “Commanding Ground” Along the Emmitsburg Road


 “Bookshelves overflow with works on the Civil War, but something like Ron Kirkwood’s ‘Tell Mother Not to Worry’ has never been done. Ron has broken new ground once again in this fascinating book on the accounts of the people at the two major hospitals on George and Elizabeth Spangler’s farm. This time, the stories get personal as the narrative turns to the soldiers, the doctors, the nurses, and the people who came to help in the aftermath of the battle. One can hear the voices of the wounded and dying. If you have any interest in what the world was like for wounded soldiers and their helpers after a horrific Civil War battle, you owe it to yourself to meet those who were there and learn how they coped as they faced their lives amid and after the chaos of war. ‘Tell Mother Not to Worry’ is a must-read for anyone who cares about the people who lived through the horrors of battle.” — Howard F. Burrell, Adams County Historical Society trustee, docent at the George Spangler Farm, and member of the Gettysburg Foundation


“With this fresh collection of insightful soldier stories, Ron Kirkwood’s ‘Tell Mother Not to Worry’ delves even deeper into the human tragedy of the XI Corps field hospital operating around George Spangler’s farm buildings. With additional individual vignettes drawn from little-studied artillery and infantry movements and even the operation of a second hospital on other parts of the Spanglers’ acreage, Kirkwood truly demonstrates the intense physical and psychological impact of Civil War combat and, as his interviews with Spangler descendants prove, its enduring legacy today.” — Carol Reardon, George Winfree Professor Emerita of History, Penn State University



Ron Kirkwood has spent the last eight years researching the George Spangler farm in Gettysburg and has written two books on it: “Too Much for Human Endurance”: The George Spangler Farm Hospitals and the Battle of Gettysburg, which was published in 2019, and the sequel “Tell Mother Not to Worry” in 2024. He is retired after a 40-year career in newspapers and magazines including USA TODAY, Baltimore Sun, Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News, York (PA) Daily Record and Midland (MI) Daily News. Ron edited national magazines for USA TODAY Sports, was NFL editor for USA TODAY Sports Weekly and managed the Harrisburg copy desk when the newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012. He is a native of Dowagiac/Sister Lakes, MI, and a graduate of Central Michigan University, where he has returned as guest speaker to journalism classes as part of the school’s Hearst Visiting Professionals series. Ron and his wife of almost 50 years, Barbara, live in the deer-filled countryside outside of Pittsburgh.