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Emmitsburg in the Civil War

The Confederate Invasion (Part Two)

John Allen Miller

Part one of the Military Engagements Around Emmitsburg during the Civil War, I  discussed the Federal movements toward Gettysburg with the defensive position of the Pipe Creek Circular.  Part two of this article is about the Confederate invasion toward Gettysburg.  In 1961, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission issued a handbook that covers a good summary of the role the Keystone state played during the Civil War.  However there was a lot of information that was missing.  With this information complied with other sources of official reports, we will go into further detail of the Confederate Advance into Pennsylvania. During the Confederate Invasion of the Gettysburg Campaign, many small towns near Emmitsburg witnessed the passing of the Southern Army, towns such as Cashtown, Waynesboro, Fountaindale, and Fairfield to name a few.  

The Confederate advance into Southern Pennsylvania has been gaining importance to many towns today.  Many local Civil War historians are working hard to uncover the history of the Confederate advance toward the small town of Gettysburg.  Their research has showed the importance of their towns and how they contributed to the Gettysburg Campaign.  Many forgotten battles, engagements, and skirmishes are now being uncovered in many areas such as Shippensburg, Fountaindale, and also Greencastle.  Many people are unaware that such battles even took place.  As long as these towns remember their Civil War heritage, tourist and townsmen can gain a complete picture of this whole area from Hagerstown to York and from Waynesboro to Emmitsburg.  

The commonwealth of Pennsylvania saw more than it’s share of the Civil War.  Many volunteers filled the ranks of those regiments raised in Pennsylvania.  Franklin County alone saw the it’s sons form several regiments such as the 2nd Pennsylvania Artillery, 21st Pennsylvania Cavalry, 35th Pennsylvania, 77th Pennsylvania Volunteers, 107th Pennsylvania Infantry, 126th Pennsylvania Infantry, 158th Pennsylvania Infantry, 182nd Pennsylvania Infantry, and former Africa-Americans filled the ranks in the U.S. Colored Troops of the 54th Mass to name a few.  How many of these boys in blue would dream one day they be defending their homeland where they were born and raised.  On June 15, 1863 one of the biggest cavalry battles of the Civil War occurred in Virginia at a cross road named Brandy Station. As the battles occurred in the Shenandoah Valley, the main Confederate Army was making its way into the North for its second invasion known as the Gettysburg Campaign. 

The last days of June were crucial to both armies. The Confederate Cavalry kept the Federal Cavalry engaged, while General Lee's Army of Northern Virginia was crossing the Potomac River near Hagerstown, Maryland. At this time the Federal Army could not pinpoint General Lee's location, he had used the Catoctin and South Mountains as cover. During the last days of June, the Confederate Army moved about 50 miles into south-central Pennsylvania from Chambersburg. Parts of the southern army made their way to York even as far as the Susquehanna River outside of Harrisburg.

The first part of the northern invasion began on June 15, when Brigadier General A. G. Jenkins with 1,600 cavalry entered Pennsylvania and advanced toward Greencastle to Chambersburg, where they remained for two days.  The Confederate Cavalry destroyed the railroad bridge at Scotland. Not strong enough to hold his position, General Jenkins retired from the Chambersburg area on June 17 backtracking toward Greencastle.  He sent foraging parties in all directions, with one group reaching McConnellsburg.  During this time period, skirmishes had developed on June 15th and on June 17th at Williamsport, Catoctin Creek, and at Point of Rocks, Maryland, while the main Confederate army was crossing the Potomac River near Williamsport, Maryland. 

On June 19th, the Confederates were engaged at Middletown, Maryland and on June 21st a skirmish occurred at Frederick, Maryland. The Confederates in Frederick County were pinpointing the locations of any Federal troop movements that were in the area.  On June 22nd a skirmish erupted along a mountain pass called Monterey near present day Blue Ridge Summit.  Confederate General Albert Jenkins ran into an armed civilian militia.  After several minutes of fighting, the civilians were forced to retire.  Later that day General Jenkins withdrew toward Hagerstown and joined General Richard S. Ewell, who that was advancing on the soil of Pennsylvania in force.  

The Confederate advance toward Gettysburg starts with the crossing of the Mason and Dixon Line.  Two of General Ewell’s divisions, Major Generals Edward Johnson and Robert E. Rodes entered Pennsylvania on June 22 and advanced toward Greencastle, and was preceded by Jenkins’ cavalry. General Ewell crossed the over into Pennsylvania by way of modern day Route 11. From there his corps entered Greencastle by June 23rd-24th.  Some light skirmishing erupted, but General Ewell pushed on toward Chambersburg the following day. 

On June 25, Lieutenant General Ambrose P. Hill, accompanied by General Robert E. Lee, entered Pennsylvania with the Third Corps. Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s First Corps then followed, and on June 27 the entire force was encamped near Chambersburg. Two days later the divisions of these corps began to advance toward deeper into Pennsylvania nearing the little town of Gettysburg.  It wasn’t until Wednesday, July 1, when the Confederate force was strung out along the road with the advance unit beyond Cashtown and the rear still at Chambersburg.

Two cavalry forces were assigned to protect the Confederate flanks. To the west, Brigadier General John D. Imboden with 3,300 men entered the state on June 26 and posted himself near Mercersburg. Part of his force clashed on June 29 with Union scouts at McConnellsburg. To the east, Major General J. E. B. Stuart and a force of about 6,200 men entered Pennsylvania on June 30 and attacked Union cavalry at Hanover. Stuart was driven off, however, and found him unable to make liaison with the main Confederate army.

General Early entered Pennsylvania on June 23rd marching toward Waynesboro.  Once at Waynesboro, General Early marched north on Black Gap Road (Modern Day 997).  He traveled passed the little towns of Quincy, Mont Alto, and arriving at Black Gap on or near June 25(near the present day intersection of Route 30.)  General Early and his Division changed directions heading East on the Chambersburg Pike.  On June 26 East of Black Gap, General Early’s troops burned the ironworks at Caledonia.  Theses ironworks belonged to Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, whose radical antislavery views were widely known.

Once his army passed through the mountain pass of Cashtown on June 26th, local citizens shot a Confederate soldier.  General Early became outraged by this act and ordered the bushwhackers to be found.  He even threatened to burn the town of Cashtown in order to bring justice for the shooting of one of his men. However, the accusing party was never found and Cashtown was never burned. 

General Early came to a fork in the road to the right the road was called the Cashtown Road while the one on the left was called Hilltown Road.  General Early himself took the road on the left splitting his command into two columns.  A local family bible of a tavern owned by John Harding (today a Bed and Breakfast called the Harding House Inn) explains that General Early passed his property, and un-mounted from his horse stepping on a rock near the front door and walked in side. There he saw several ladies drinking tea and started to talk to them.  General Early noticed a map on the wall of Adams County Pennsylvania.  He took his knife, and cut the canvas map out and stuck it in his pocket.  General Early said, “I need this more than you do.” General Early then remounted his horse and started to the hid of his command 

From Cashtown, the larger part of Early’s forces passed north of Gettysburg, but Brigadier General John B. Gordon’s brigade of 2,800 men, supported by cavalry, advanced through the town on June 26, repulsing a detachment of the 26th Pennsylvania Militia on the way. This was known as the engagement of Rock Creek. The following day, while Gordon advanced directly on York, a cavalry battalion under Lieutenant Colonel E. V. White followed the railroad to Hanover Junction and destroyed a bridge there. Fearing Union opposition, White then fell back and marched north to rejoin General Gordon.

On Saturday, June 27, General Gordon received the surrender of York, which he entered and passed through on the following day. General Early, after having detached cavalry under Colonel William H. French to destroy the Susquehanna Bridge at York Haven, French entered York and sat up his headquarters.

From Greencastle Brigadier General George H. Steuart of Johnson’s division was sent to McConnellsburg with 2,500 infantry and 300 cavalry to guard the Confederate left flank and to round up live­stock and supplies. He rejoined the main force at Carlisle, where General Ewell arrived on Saturday, June 27.

In the face of Ewell’s advance, local militia forces fell back from Shippensburg to Carlisle after a brief skirmish.  The local militia then fell back to Harrisburg, where two entrench­ments called Fort Couch and Fort Washington were prepared on the west side of the Susquehanna on the heights overlooking the capital city. From Carlisle, General Jenkins and sat his headquarters at Mechanicsburg, and on June 29 he made a reconnaissance of the Harrisburg defenses. There were minor skirmishes near Oyster’s Point on June 28-29 and another at Sporting Hill on Tuesday, June 30. Confederate scouts ranged widely, and Harrisburg newspapers reported the sighting of enemy horsemen on the outskirts of Duncannon.

While this part of Ewell’s corps gained control of the railroad line between Hagerstown and Harrisburg, Early’s division moved eastward to cut the railroad between Baltimore and Harrisburg at York and to seize the bridge over the Susquehanna River between Wrightsville and Columbia. In attempt to destroy a vital bridge at Wrightsville, Pennsylvania, General Gordon failed to seize the bridge, when Union troops set fire to it on June 28. The flames spread into the town, and Gordon’s men helped to extinguish them. His troops returned to York the following day.

General Lee had meanwhile learned that Union troops had crossed the Potomac in pursuit of him, and he ordered Ewell’s corps to rejoin him. The first word received by Ewell at Carlisle indicated a concentration at Chambersburg;  General Johnson’s division marched southwest toward Chambersburg and encamped near Green Village. Later orders, named Cashtown; General Rodes (accompanied by Ewell) and Early both marched towards Heidlersburg, where on June 30 Rodes’s division camped at the town and Early’s about three miles to the east. To avoid delay, it was agreed that Rodes should proceed toward Cashtown by way of Biglerville, while Early followed a parallel route to the south through Hunterstown. Their westward march was cut short the next day by news that fighting had begun at Gettysburg, where A. P. Hill’s advance units had collided with Union cavalry.

Zora (not known as a town then) was a crossroad that led into Waynesboro, Emmitsburg, or Fairfield. Both armies had encamped and sat pickets along this intersection.  Two miles north of these crossroads was a little town called Fountaindale.  Many locals tell me that Fountaindale received its name from an actual fountain that belonged to Dale. Weather this is true or not, I don’t think the answer will be found anytime soon. Fountaindale played a major role in the battle of Monterey and the Confederate retreat from the fields of Gettysburg, and proved to be a key route for the armies during the Civil War. Both armies felt the need to obtain and protect their positions at the foot of South Mountain.  Fountaindale is located between Jack’s Mountain, Beards Hill, and is connected to two major mountain gaps.  Troops on both sides needed to keep the mountain Gaps open for communication proposes and the Confederates needed the gaps held open in case of a retreat. Scouts and pickets used the outskirts of Fountaindale to see the movements of troops that were coming from the direction of Emmitsburg, and Fairfield.

The clash between a small squad of Confederate Cavalry (who were attached to General Albert Jenkins) and Cole's Cavalry on June 28 was the first confrontation that occurred in the Fountaindale area.  A small squad of Cole’s Cavalry Company “C” under the command is Sergeant Oliver Horner came upon some Rebel cavalrymen with 20 stolen horses in their possession. Fifteen out of the Confederate Raiders were captured and the horses were recovered. Sergeant Horner received special mention, having captured a Rebel officer who was a bearer of dispatches from General Lee to General Ewell. The dispatches were turned over to General Meade, commander of the Union forces, and were of great importance. Sergeant Horner was later promoted.

After the skirmish, Cole's cavalry retired toward the direction of Emmitsburg. While scouting near Monterey, members of the 14th Virginia spotted a Federal patrol, believing they were a militia. The Confederates tormented the New Yorker’s by luring the Federal body into a trap. However, the New Yorker’s did not pursue the Confederates.

On June 28th after a sharp skirmish developed near Fountaindale, Pennsylvania, the Federal cavalry under John Buford came into town moving towards Fairfield, investigating the rebel forces in the area. By June 29, 1863, General John Buford suspected a battle would soon erupt in south-central Pennsylvania. There he stood at the opening of Monterey Pass through South Mountain, and overlooking the Cumberland Valley.  After seeing movements of the Confederates, General Buford retired to Fountain Dale.  

The Confederate Cavalry under the command of General JEB Stuart crossed the Potomac River near Seneca Mills outside of Urbana, Maryland. General Stuart had orders from General Lee to scout the Federal positions and report back as soon as possible. In Rockville, Maryland General Stuart captured a wagon train from the Federal Cavalry. General Stuart was slowed by his prizes, which he lost in the skirmishes that took place in the next few days. On June 28th, General JEB Stuart was in Westminster, Maryland where he engaged in his second major fight while in Maryland. This fight was made by the First Delaware Cavalry, however outnumbered they were forced to retreat. Subsequently JEB Stuart made his way through Union Mills where he camped on the night of the 29th.

By June 29, 1863, Union General John Buford suspected a battle would soon erupt in south-central Pennsylvania. There he stood at the opening of Monterey Pass through South Mountain, and overlooking the Cumberland Valley.  He saw the dust in the background toward the mountains in the Greencastle area. Making his way through Fairfield, Buford's Federal cavalry did not receive a worm welcome as he hope for.  Many people feel this was because Fairfield had already saw the passing Confederate scouts and were afraid of what would happen to their town if anything was said.

On June 30th, General Buford at Fairfield spotted a large Confederate force. About 3000 Confederates on horse back were guarding General A.P. Hill's right flank. General Buford had his bugler sound the charge. The horses were running rapidly towards their counter parts. Guns were blazing over the ridge as residents in Fairfield began to run for cover. The ground shook with much anger as the clash of sabers echoed in the valley and hills. Then in the distance, the Confederates started to unhitch their cannon. By this time General Buford had called the engagement off. General Buford could not determine the location of the main Confederate army. If the cannon had fired, it could have been a sign for reinforcements to arrive. General Buford could not afford to take such a risk. The Confederates had won the skirmish and gave the main Confederate army time, which they desperately needed. As General Buford retreated, the Union cavalry ran as fast as it could. After taking the wrong road, General Buford ended up in Emmitsburg, and saw that the 11th Corps of General O Howard was encamped three miles from General Reynolds’s Headquarters at Moritz Tavern Marsh Creek.  General Burford made his way and handed over the information of the positions of the Confederate Army. 

On June 30th, as JEB Stuart came into Hanover, PA, and was attacked by General Kilpatrick's command. It was General Custer and his men of the 7th Michigan Cavalry that managed to repel the Confederates at the battle of Hanover. The battle of Hanover was fought in the streets, and delayed General Stuart from rejoining General Lee. After leaving Hanover, General Stuart sought a route to rejoin General Lee.

In an all-night march he failed to get any news of General Early, who had gone to join General Lee, and he went on to Carlisle on July 1, only to find General Ewell who was also gone and the town in the hands of Union troops who refused to surrender. Stuart shelled the town briefly, burned the nearby barracks, and then set out for Gettysburg, the head of his column turning back from Carlisle and the rear going by way of Dillsburg. 

General Stuart on route toward Gettysburg ran into resistance by troopers belonging to General Custer’s cavalry.  Hunterstown is usually known as the oldest town in Adams County, named after the Hunters who settled the land in the 1700’s. In General Custer’s official report he wrote: 

“On July 2, at the battle of Hunterstown, one squadron, under command of Captain Duggan, was detailed to hold the road leading into the town from the right front of it. One platoon was deployed as skirmishers on the left of the road leading into town from the rear. This platoon was actively engaged and did good service. The regiment sustained no loss upon this day.”

The three-day battle at Gettysburg is known as the most bloodiest Civil War Campaign where over 50,000 casualties fell wounded, captured, and killed.  These smaller engagements of Southern Adams, Franklin, and Northern Frederick Counties have been overshadowed due to the importance of the battle of Gettysburg.  There are several small towns which impacted the Civil War in it’s own unique way.  The histories of these towns are as vital as the actual battle of Gettysburg.  They complete the history of the Gettysburg Campaign while the Confederate Invasion and the Pipe Creek Defensive Line tells the whole story of the Gettysburg Campaign. 

As General Lee maneuvered his forces, Southern Adams, Franklin and Northern Frederick Counties found themselves right in the middle of the two armies. When Lee’s main force reached Chambersburg, he retained one corps there, and sent two others eastward through Gettysburg toward York and then onto Harrisburg. Later, when he learned of the approach of the Union army from the south, General Lee concentrated them from the north, making Gettysburg a geographical contest.

There is still more that needs to be uncovered in order to learned about the battles of Fountaindale, Monterey, and also Emmitsburg.  Today there are no visible markers dedicated to those that fought in the battle of Fountaindale or to those who traveled along the Emmitsburg and Waynesboro Turnpike. 

Read part one: General Meade's Pipe Creek Circular

Read other articles by John Miller