As promised, part III of this series is about how John Kramb came to own the Adams County Winery. It all started on July 3rd, 1863 when General Robert E. Lee ordered General George Pickett and two other generals to attack General George G. Meade’s Union troops on Cemetery Ridge during the battle of Gettysburg. Prior attacks on the flanks of the Union troops had failed on July 1st and 2nd so Lee ordered Pickett to attack straight up the middle on day three.
One of Pickett’s brigades was commanded by Brigadier General Lewis Armistead. Armistead had been a cadet at West P0int and was expelled for breaking a dinner plate over the head of a fellow cadet. After spending some time in California, Armistead moved to Virginia and joined the Confederate Army. On July 3rd Armistead was ordered to lead his brigade over a fence onto Cemetery Ridge. As the brigade advanced they were decimated by Union troops led by General Alonzo Cushing. As Armistead climbed the fence, he took off his hat, placed it on the tip of his sword and shouted, “Come on boys, give them the cold steel. Who will follow me?” Just as reached the first of Cushing’s three inch rifles, he was shot three times in the chest and arm. He was carried to a farm that was being used as a field hospital and died three days later.
How did this battle that occurred over 140 years ago cause John Kramb to buy the Adams County Winery? In Central Pennsylvania we have many groups of Civil War Re-enactors. One of them (The Lew Armistead Group) is dedicated to the memory of General Armistead. It turns out that John Kramb’s best friend is a member of the Lew Armistead Group. In 1993, they convinced the owner of the farm where General Armistead died to allow them to place a commorative plaque on the site. The plaque was dedicated in a private ceremony and John Kramb, living in Washington, DC at the time was invited. The ceremony was on July 3rd and John had no idea that hotel rooms are impossible to find in Gettysburg in July. He couldn’t get a room in Gettysburg so he stayed in Chambersburg. While on route to Gettysburg, he saw a sign for the Adams County Winery and stopped in. He also saw a “for sale” sign on the winery. John spent some talking to the owner and two days later, he purchased the winery.
That’s how John Kramb came to own the Adams County Winery. I hope I did John’s story justice and I hope you enjoyed hearing it as much from me as I enjoyed hearing it from John. The next time you’re in Gettysburg learning about Pickett’s Charge, stop into the Adams County Winery for another little piece of Civil War History.