Civil War Heritage of
educate, to interpret and to preserve
scene of parting from parents and sisters comes vividly before my eyes
today. It was a trying moment. Everybody had some little gift for us
that we might possibly need for comfort. With many
kisses and "God Bless You" we left Gettysburg in several large farm
wagons for Emmitsburg." Private William A. McIlhenny, Cole's Cavalry,
Photograph of Samuel
Walker, 10th Virginia Infantry CSA, VMI Archives
Areas of Interest
Timeline of Events
Emmitsburg, a Pivotal Crossroad of the Civil War
During the Presidential Elections, Emmitsburg’s
political views supported the Southern Democratic Party giving John C.
Breckinridge 323 votes, more than half the population of Emmitsburg.
December of 1860, Emmitsburg resident Charles
Donnelley is the first townsman to enlist in the Confederacy serving
three years in Charleston, South Carolina in the 15th South Carolina
Heavy Artillery. Charles Donnelley is one of nearly 500 Marylanders
who traveled by ship to Charleston Harbor and witnessed the
bombardment of Fort Sumter.
During a meeting with the Maryland State General
Assembly, Emmitsburg resident Doctor Andrew Annan was among those who
attended gave Emmitsburg’s support to the preservation of the Union.
Those Emmitsburg residents who had southern sympathies
but did not make the trip to South Carolina began to head into
Virginia and enlist into the service of the Confederacy.
Most of the Emmitsburg men who fought for the Union
enlisted into Company “C” of the 1st Potomac Home
Brigade, Cole’s Cavalry. Company "C" was mustered into service at
Frederick, Maryland on September 9, 1861.
In November, during the special elections, many Union
troops are sent to protect the voters at the Polling places.
September 4th-7th, General Robert E. Lee's Confederate
Army crosses the Potomac River and invades Maryland. His goals;
liberate, recruit, re-supply, and if possible take the war into
During the Maryland Campaign, on September 13th, Union
General Alfred Pleasonton, whose headquarters was at Frederick,
received an order from General McClellan to send a cavalry force to
scout the Lewistown and Mechanicstown area and report any Confederate
activity. As speculations of General Lee’s Army moving into
Pennsylvania grew, a detachment of cavalry under Captain William Boyd
made their way to Emmitsburg, arriving by nightfall.
September 17th, the Daughters of Charity are
petitioned by the state of Maryland to care for the wounded soldiers
October 11th, General JEB Stuart's Cavalry enters
Emmitsburg during the 1st Chambersburg Raid just as Rush's Lancers
were riding toward Gettysburg. During his raid Emmitsburg was occupied
by Union forces under the command of Colonel Richard Rush and his
A stable fire burns three-quarters of Emmitsburg. The
first portions of the Union Army known as the Middle Department seize
the mountain gaps upon South Mountain waiting for General Joseph
Hooker's Army of the Potomac to take over possession.
June 22nd, skirmish at Monterey Pass.
June 27th, General Hooker's resignation is approved
and General George Meade takes command of the Army of the Potomac. Newly promoted General George Armstrong
Custer and a portion of his command encamp near the Tollgate at Saint
Joseph's and hire Emmitsburg resident Jim McCullough as a guide.
June 28th, skirmish at Fountain Dale. Members of
Cole's Cavalry captures several artillerists on a foraging scout and
bring them to Emmitsburg.
June 29th, General John Reynolds orders the First and
Eleventh Corps to march toward Emmitsburg from South Mountain,
Middletown and Frederick around 4 a.m. and they will arrive at
Emmitsburg around 6 p.m. General Reynolds sets his headquarters at Saint
Joseph's Rectory and orders Signal Corps to Indian Lookout. First
Corps encamps on the ground of Saint Joseph's. General Oliver O. Howard sets up his headquarters at
Mount Saint Mary's and his Eleventh Corps encamps near Emmitsburg for
With three comrades from his old company, Gwinn, Wolf and Crooks,
Emmitsburg resident Samuel McNair started for Gettysburg and was the
first Union soldier to enter Gettysburg after Ewell's Division moved
North toward York. McNair captures a few Confederate soldiers, one of
them carrying dispatches from General Lee to General Ewell. After
reconnaissance of Lee's position, started to fall back to Gettysburg.
After being spotted by Confederate soldiers, McNair and his party made
a dash for safety. The rebel cavalrymen in hot pursuit, chasing them
at a rapid rate towards Emmitsburg. Fortunately for the three intrepid
soldiers at about the Peach Orchard, they met the advance of Buford’s
Cavalry. It was this little band of Company C, Cole’s Cavalry that
captured the first rebels on the famous battlefield of Gettysburg.
June 30th, General Reynolds moves the First Corps to
Marsh Creek and sets up his headquarters at the Moritz Tavern. He places
the Brigades of Generals Stone and Biddle on picket between
Emmitsburg and Gettysburg. On the evening of June 30th, through the
morning hours of July 1st, the Third Corps under General Daniel
Sickles was at Bridgeport, Maryland just east of Emmitsburg. Birney's
Division of General Sickles' Third Corps was ordered to march to
Emmitsburg and encamped at Saint Joseph's. General George Meade comes
up with the Pipe Creek Defensive Line that stretches from Emmitsburg
July 1st, General Sickles’ Third Corps marched from
Bridgeport through Emmitsburg heading to Gettysburg between two and
three o'clock that afternoon. Union engineers began surveying the land
around Emmitsburg for a possible battle. For a few hours, the town of
Emmitsburg was crucial to the war efforts. Preparing for the march,
General Sickles took one brigade from his two divisions and two
batteries and placed General Charles K. Graham in charge of the troops
that General Sickles was keeping at Emmitsburg. General Sickles then
sent a dispatch to General Meade stating he was taking his Corps
forward to Gettysburg and that he had left two brigades of infantry
and two batteries behind.
July 2nd, more Federal soldiers came into
Emmitsburg. These soldiers were the Army of the Potomac's U.S. Cavalry
under the command of General Wesley Merrit. A dispatch came on July
2nd to move forward with the wagon train toward Emmitsburg, Maryland.
With these orders General Merrit came into Emmitsburg and set up camp.
Then the orders came for General Merrit to report to the battlefield
on July 3rd.
July 4th, a detachment of Confederate General Albert
Jenkins' Cavalry Brigade enters Emmitsburg.
Union General Judson Kilpatrick enters Emmitsburg
being re-enforced there and heads toward Monterey Pass, where a major
battle occurs that evening.
July 5th, General JEB Stuart enters Emmitsburg after a
brief skirmish near the modern day Emmit House. Stuart's Cavalry
captures more than 70 Union prisoners and a few sutler stores. Among
the prisoners are Alexander Gardner's staff that works for the Matthew
Brady Photography Firm. Stuart leaves Emmitsburg after learning about
the battle that erupted at Monterey Pass on South Mountain. Stuart
heads towards Thurmont and then heads north back toward Emmitsburg after
learning Harman's Pass on the Catoctin Mountain is occupied by Federal
Cavalry. Cutting his way through Emmitsburg Gap, Stuart captures the
Signal Corps at Indian Lookout.
July 6th-7th, Union troops march past Emmitsburg
trying to head Lee's retreating army off by way of Middletown to
July 7th, General Meade enters Emmitsburg and is
hailed by Emmitsburg citizens.
July 5th, Confederate General Early's Corps and
General John C. Breckinridge's Division started to cross the Potomac
River at Shepherdstown. As a precaution, Union Cavalry detachments
patrol the area.
July 9th, Battle of Monocacy.
July 10th, Confederate Cavalry forages the area of
July 14th, Union Colonel Clendenin's Cavalry moves
toward Emmitsburg. The newly formed Second Delaware Cavalry under the
command of Captain Milligan was to patrol the Middleburg area near
Emmitsburg as part of their efforts to protect Baltimore.
July 18th, Union forces began to patrol the
Waynesboro area. General Lew Wallace sent Captain J. C. Hullinger,
commanding a detachment of the 21st Pennsylvania Cavalry to march to
Waynesboro via Emmitsburg.
July 19th, Major General David Hunter received a
dispatch from General D. N. Couch informing him that a few cavalrymen
of his Department of Susquehanna had been scouting and fighting in
Maryland. More cavalrymen were needed and ordered along the line near
Greencastle, Waynesboro, and Emmitsburg.
A detachment of Hunter’s cavalrymen were
ordered to march by South Mountain toward Emmitsburg. General Halleck
sent another dispatch to General Hunter stating that Clendenin's
Cavalry was ordered to scout toward Emmitsburg and send back
information on the Confederate force that had entered Chambersburg.
Meanwhile, General Lew Wallace sent a detachment of the 21st
Pennsylvania Cavalry, under the command of Captain J. C. Hullinger to
march to Waynesboro via Emmitsburg.
A signal camp was opened at
Emmitsburg by Chief Signal Officer Amos M. Thayer relaying messages to
the cavalry stationed at Emmitsburg as they waited. By that afternoon,
a skirmish erupted at Emmitsburg as a repercussion from the burning of
Chambersburg. A small contingent of Union cavalry guarding the area
around Emmitsburg was driven into Emmitsburg by a superior number of
July 31st, Captain Franklin E. Town, Chief Signal
Officer sent Lieutenant Ellis to Emmitsburg to communicate with
Captain Thayer and ordered him to go to Chambersburg and report the
operations of the enemy there. A line of communications was made along
the Mason and Dixon Line that kept General Crook in communication with
headquarters during his march toward Emmitsburg.
August 1st, Lieutenant Ellis reported from High Rock
that Chambersburg was burned.
No more military activity was reported until the end
of the Civil War.
Cole’s Cavalry was mustered out of service at Harper's Ferry. The
cavalry command then rode to Baltimore to be formally discharged.
Many Confederate Veterans chose not to
return to Emmitsburg.
Want to learn more about the area?
Then try the Greater Emmitsburg Historical Society