The bloodiest signal day of the Civil War was fought near the town of Sharpsburg, Maryland on September 17, 1862 along a small creek called Antietam. Sharpsburg is approximately 29 miles west of Emmitsburg, Maryland. The Army of the Potomac, under the command of General George B. McClellan, sat quietly along the banks of the Potomac River. A cautious General McClellan felt his men were not yet prepared enough to fight another major battle with General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. However, skirmishing continued along the banks of the Potomac River near Shepherdstown, West Virginia until General Lee’s Army was in the safety of Virginia.
By October, nearly two weeks after the Battle of Antietam, General McClellan’s army was still waiting to be issued orders. During this time President Lincoln repeatedly sent out messages to General McClellan asking why no attempt was made to pursue General Lee. General McClellan repeatedly sent dispatches back to President Lincoln stating his army was not ready, they needed supplies or they needed time to heal their wounds. President Lincoln himself came out to where General McClellan was encamped and to see why no further attempts to pursue General Lee were made. General McClellan’s cautiousness led him to loose his command in late October.
Also in October, General JEB Stuart with 1800 troopers and Major Pelgram’s Battery of two to four guns made their way to the Potomac River and on October 9th, crossed a ford near Clear Springs, Maryland. General Stuart received orders from General Lee not to harm or seize any property in Maryland. This raid into Maryland and Pennsylvania was made completely around General McClellan. This is known today as General Stuart’s “Second ride around McClellan.” General Stuart’s orders were to capture equipment that the Confederates needed, to disrupt communication lines, destroy parts of the C&O Canal and also take out parts of the B&O railroad at and near Chambersburg. This was also a diversion keeping the Federals from being re-enforced in the Kanawha Valley (West) Virginia in order for the Confederate Army of South Eastern Virginia to take possession of the valuable salt mines in that area.
By October 10th, General Stuart was in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and had captured a Federal arsenal consisting of clothing such as great coats, socks, underwear, along with supplies that the Confederate army so desperately needed such as rifles, pistols and swords. General Stuart ordered the arsenals to be burned destroying excess items that they could not carry. General Stuart was also worried about crossing the Potomac River, since torrential downpours may have caused the Potomac River swell and fording the river may be a problem. Also the bridge they had been sent to destroy was made of iron, making it impossible to demolish.
Orders were given to mount up and the Confederate cavalry left Chambersburg. General Stuart ordered his troopers to head back toward Hagerstown to return to General Lee’s Army. As they made their way up South Mountain, the Confederate cavalry realized that the Federal cavalry might be pursuing them, since burning the Federal arsenals at Chambersburg. Needing an escape route, General Stuart detoured traveling in an eastern direction. As his troopers made their way down Old Chambersburg Pike toward Cashtown.
Upon leaving Chambersburg, the Federal cavalry was pursuing the Confederates. Colonel Rush had his command split leaving several units in Frederick, Maryland, while his 6th Pennsylvania cavalry was scouting in the area. One of the units, under his command, was the First Potomac Home Brigade better known as Cole’s Cavalry. Company C under the command of Captain Albert M. Hunter was part of Cole’s Cavalry that was stationed on stand by at Frederick, Maryland. Company C was raised in the Emmitsburg and Gettysburg areas, and was made of young and reckless farm boys who were not afraid of their counterparts. Also, these young boys did not have families of their own which meant they were not tied down. This cavalry proved to be competition against the Confederate cavalry.
The Governor of Pennsylvania wrote to General McClellan about the issues of the Confederate Cavalry. He wrote in this correspondence:
“Harrisburg, October 11, 1862-4.10 P.M.
Rebels crossed Potomac near Clear Spring, and entered Pennsylvania by Blair’s Valley. Latest advices say they are moving in direction of Gettysburg, thence by Emmitsburg, to destroy Government stores at or near Frederick. These statements are mere conjectures, given to you as received.
A. G. Curtin, Governor of Pennsylvania.”
General Alfred Pleasonton who was tracking for the Confederate Cavalry received false intelligence of General Stuart’s whereabouts. He thought that General Stuart was retracing his footsteps back toward the Potomac River in the direction in which he came. General Pleasanton started to pursue the Confederate cavalry at Knoxville, Maryland on October 10-11 in the direction that intelligence report stated. Soon afterwards, he was ordered to proceed toward Emmitsburg and Mechanicstown. This is the official order given to General Pleasonton from General McClellan’s Chief of Staff after examining Governor Curtin’s report:
“ Headquarters of the Army of the Potomac, October 11, 1862
Brigadier-General Pleasonton, Hagerstown:
A report from Governor Curtin this morning states the rebel cavalry force camped at Chambersburg last night, and left there at 9 this morning the direction of Gettysburg. Force about 2,000 strong, consisting of Stuart and Hampton’s cavalry. It is thought, by Mr. McClure, of Chambersburg, that they intend returning by way of Frederick and Leesburg. You will at once move with your force, and all of Davis’ cavalry, at Hagerstown, by Cavetown and Harmon’s Gap, to Mechanicstown, where the Sixth Cavalry has been ordered to join you.
You will send scouts on the direct road from Hagerstown to Gettysburg, and also to Emmitsburg and beyond, to ascertain the movements of the enemy. It might be well to send citizens, if you can get them to go, and send any information you may get to these headquarters by telegraph from Hagerstown or Frederick, as may be most convenient.
You will take the best route to cut off the enemy, depending on the information you obtain. Pursue them vigorously, and do not spare your men or horses, if you see an opportunity of overtaking them. They should not be allowed to escape unharmed.
R. B. Marcy, Chief of Staff.”
General Pleasonton lost two hours of valuable time that allowed General Stuart and his Confederate cavalry to slip by and head directly into Emmitsburg. Since leaving Chambersburg, General Stuart had already ridden over 31 miles and was approximately 45 miles from the Potomac River. At the same time, General McClellan order General Stoneman, who was at Poolesville, Maryland to be on the lookout for General Pleasanton and try to intercept General Stuart at Emmitsburg or Mechanicstown.
That afternoon, on October 11th, General Stuart made his way into Cashtown passing by the Harding House Inn that was a tavern near the Cashtown Inn. General Stuart at this time was about seven miles away from Gettysburg. General Stuart and the five-mile long column then turn southeast taking the old Fairfield Road. At Fairfield, the Confederate cavalry traveled into Maryland where they reached Emmitsburg, Maryland at about sunset. Once his cavalry reached the Mason and Dixon Line Stuart ordered the men to close formations and stop collecting livestock.
Lt. Colonel Jacob M. Sheads, noted that during the Raid in Adams County, General Stuart took 13 prisoners. Among them were John B. Paxton, John C. Martin, Sanford Shroeder, Shields Hunter, Abraham Stockslager, Andrew Hartman, Nelson Boyd, Lewis Pittinger, Andrew Lowe, Andrew Warren, David Baer, John Hartman, and Alexander Benchoff. Sheads also stated that Warren Danner of Adams County man rode with Stuart’s cavalry during the first raid on Chambersburg.
In Adams County Stuart’s men confiscated over 80 horses and roughly 1,500 dollars worth of supplies. In Cashtwon, $22 worth of goods were taken from the Williams Ruff store and $10 worth of goods were taken at Captain Mark’s Store. At Fairfield over $1,000 worth of hats, shoes, and clothing from the Paxton and McCreary store and $200 worth of merchandise were taken from Sullivan’s store and 30 stands of arms from the Home Guard Armory.
Just one hour before the Confederate arrival in Emmitsburg, 140 men of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry known as Colonel Rush’s Lancers had passed through the town and headed toward Gettysburg. Members of General Stuart’s advance guard charged the through Emmitsburg chasing after the stragglers of the four companies of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Orders came from Stuart to rest, feed and water their horses.
The town of Emmitsburg hailed the Confederate troopers as the townsmen opened their arms to the Confederate cavalry. Many people of Emmitsburg applauded very loudly as the Confederate Cavalry entered the town. There they received fresh bread, buttermilk, and meat and the town itself was being very supportive to those dressed in gray. Emmitsburg, at the time, had never really seen a Confederate and the town was curious to hear the tales they had to tell. The Confederates were observed as being very polite to the residents of Emmitsburg. Major Henry B. McClellan observed General Stuart enjoying the hospitality among the local citizens of Emmitsburg.
Some reports claim that the Confederate cavalry was dressed in Union blue and that the citizens of Emmitsburg seem to think they were federal cavalry. After researching many first hand reports and descriptions of the Confederate cavalry entering Emmitsburg, there is a key phrase that eliminates this folklore. Major Henry McClellan wrote in his book basically stating the Confederate advance guard charged the through Emmitsburg chasing after the stragglers belonging to the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
The book entitle “War Years with JEB Stuart” published in 1945, written by Lieutenant Colonel W.W. Blackford who was a captain during the 1862 Chambersburg Raid and also part of the Corps of Engineers gives a description of Emmitsburg as they trotted into town:
“The success of the expedition was largely due to the excellent guides General Stuart had provided himself with; and now Logan and Harbaugh, who had lived in Pennsylvania, acted, but as we approached Maryland, Capt. B. S. White became the guide; his residence in that part of Maryland made him thoroughly acquainted with every road in it. It was very pleasant to get amongst friends once more upon crossing the line into Maryland, though we could not take their horses.
The first place we came to was the little town of Emmitsburg, which we reached about sundown, thirty-one miles from Chambersburg, and still forty-five miles from our crossing place. If we had fallen from the clouds the people could not have been more astonished than at seeing us come from the direction we followed, and their demonstrations of delight at seeing us were unbounded.
An hour before our arrival a detachment of Rush’s Lancers, a scouting party of a hundred-forty men, sent to look for us, had passed through the town, and hearing of this, General Stuart had issued orders to overtake and capture any one attempting to leave the place while we were in it. Just as the advanced guard entered the street, a young lady rode out of a yard of a house before us, and seeing, to her dismay, a body of soldiers, which she took for Federals of course, she dashed off out of town towards her home some miles in the country.
Our men called upon her to halt, but this only made her whip up her horse the more, and being reluctant to use their firearms, the only thing to do was for two of the best mounted to overtake and capture her. It was an exciting race for a mile and the poor young lady was, as she told us, scared almost to death, but finding she could not escape she pulled up and surrendered in great terror. But when she and her captors appeared leisurely riding back they were in high good humor, laughing and talking over the adventure.
The young lady returned to the house she had been visiting and was requested to remain there until we had been gone an hour. Though only a mile or two from the Pennsylvania state line, the people here seemed to be intensely Southern in their sympathies and omitted no opportunity of showing us attention during the short half hour we passed among them.”
Friendly citizens also greeted members of Stuart’s Horse Artillery, as they paused long enough to feed and water their horses. General Stuart ordered pickets to set up along the roads leading into Emmitsburg. A courier was captured as Federal cavalry was catching up to the rear of the Confederate cavalry. General Stuart learned Colonel Rush, and also General Alfred Pleasonton and some 800 members of his cavalry were pursuing him and were riding from Hagerstown toward Mechanicstown. The courier was blind folded and released to fool Colonel Rush. General JEB Stuart attended to his horse and stood up against a tree for about a half an hour before moving out.
A gentleman who entered Emmitsburg with General Stuart was Major Johann August Heinrich Heros Von Borcke, known as the “Giant dressed in gray” simply because he stood more than six feet tall. He was a Prussian Military Officer in the Second Brandenburg Regiment of Dragoons, who came to America shortly after the Civil War had began. He departed for the Confederacy, landing at Charleston, South Carolina, during May of 1862. He was then introduced to General Stuart and they quickly became good friends. The two men never left each other’s side until Major Borcke’s wounding in 1863.
With General Stuart at Emmitsburg, the alarm was sent to other communities around Frederick County, Maryland and also Adams County, Pennsylvania. Several reports stated that Stuart’s men were in Gettysburg and also as far north as Carlisle, Pennsylvania. General Stuart was now in a hurry to get back to the Potomac River. Then the order was given to mount up. Fearing that General McClellan knew his location, General Stuart left Emmitsburg shortly after sun down. Only a few stragglers stayed behind in Emmitsburg. Some reports state that Colonel Rush caught a few of these stragglers.
On the road toward Frederick, General Stuart accompanied Southhall, who commanded the advance guard, before leaving him, General Stuart ordered him to keep up the fast gait and ride over any opposing parties. Soon after, a courier was captured carrying dispatches from Frederick to Colonel Rush’s Lancers. From this information General Stuart learned that even though the enemy was trying to intercept him, they still had no ideal of his location or movements. He also learned that Colonel Rush had enough men in Frederick to protect the city, even though four companies of his Lancers were headed for Gettysburg. With this information captured from the courier, the dispatches also stated 800 men under the command of General Pleasonton was hurrying to Mechanicstown just four miles from Stuart’s position and the railroad crossing of the Monocacy was occupied by two brigades of infantry, ready at a moments notice to steam the railcar engines and deploy them in either direction.
With this new found information, General Stuart ordered the column to turn east at Rocky Ridge, Maryland and travel toward the Woodsboro Road two miles away. At around 9 P.M., the advance guard reached Rocky Ridge; they met a scouting party of General Pleasonton’s Federal Cavalry, which turned immediately toward Mechanicstown. Just two hours before 9 P.M. Colonel Rush ordered two scouting companies east, the first company traveled to Johnsville, while the other company headed to Woodsboro to find the location of General Stuart.
A half past 10 P.M. a company of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry observed the march of General Stuart’s column through Woodsboro. This information of General Stuart’s location was dispatched to Colonel Rush and to General Pleasonton only few miles away at Mechanicstown. Only though this information only had to go from Rocky Ridge to Mechanicstown, a mere three hours it took to relay. General Pleasonton receive word on General Stuart’s location past midnight. Meantime General Stuart continued his order of march toward the Potomac River.
Some reports in Frederick on October 12th stated:
“That the Confederates were encamped at Emmitsburg, Maryland and that Frederick needed to be protected. The following is an excerpt of what Frederick officials had reported. “During Saturday afternoon and evening large bodies of Union troops were ordered to the vicinity of Frederick to protect the immense stores there, it being anticipated to be the purpose of the Rebels to destroy these, as well as the railroad bridge at Monocacy Station…Other troops were sent on different roads leading from the Pennsylvania line. Intelligence was received Saturday night at 12 o’clock, that the enemy were moving toward Frederick and had reached Woodsboro…they have diverged from the direct road from Emmitsburg, so as to be able to choose a route east of Frederick on their way to the Potomac, if it should be necessary for their safety. On reaching Woodsboro, Stuart ascertained, that a large Union force was stationed to intercept him, and that McClellan had discovered his movement eastward in time to afford ample protection to the Government property at Frederick and vicinity. This made it necessary that he must move rapidly to avoid capture before reaching the Potomac. Four additional regiments had arrived during the evening by railroad from Harper’s Ferry, with additional artillery, to re-enforce the force already here, which fact…was repeated to the enemy at Woodsboro. On receiving the information that the rich prize they anticipated at Frederick and Monocacy Junction was safe consisting besides the bridge of 12 heavy engines, 200 loaded cars and great quantities of hospital and army stores and wagons, they started off in an easterly direction by the Libertytown road to New Market on the Baltimore turnpike. This movement required a wide detour to reach the Potomac of 10 or 15 miles, making it necessary to push for fords below…the mouth of the Monocacy.”
“Hanover Junction, October 12, 1862-7.25 a.m.
George B. McClellan, Headquarters:
I am here with two regiments of infantry and a battery of artillery; two more regiments are expected soon, when I shall go with the whole force to Gettysburg. The following dispatch has been received from Captain Haseltine, Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry, dated Gettysburg, October 11, 8.40 p. m.
General Stuart, with about 3,000 cavalry and a battery of artillery, is now in Emmitsburg, Md. There is no force in Frederick adequate to meet them this morning in case they go that way.
John E. Wool Major-General”
“Headquarters Eighth Army Corps, Baltimore, Md., October 14, 1862
General: On Friday evening I received (about 10-o’clock) information, by telegraph from Governor Curtin, of Pennsylvania, that the 3,000 rebel cavalry and a section of artillery, under the command of General Stuart, were in possession of Chambersburg. It appears that the town had been surrendered upon the demand of the rebel general. I immediately ordered three regiments and a battery of six pieces to be got ready and proceed at once to Harrisburg; afterward I ordered a fourth regiment.
The next morning, at 6 o’clock, and as soon as I could obtain a special train, I proceeded to Harrisburg, were I arrived early in the day, and visited Governor Curtin. He appeared quite anxious about the safety of Carlisle. Although I did not agree with him on the subject, yet I proceeded to that place. On the way I received a telegram, informing me that the rebels had gone to Emmitsburg. I returned immediately to Harrisburg and saw Governor Curtin, who had received the same information. I at once preceded to Hanover Junction, where I arrived about 4 a. m., and where I met my troops ordered from Baltimore. These I immediately set in motion for Gettysburg, where they arrived about 1 p. m., and headed off the rebel cavalry, previous to which the advance of the rebels had been attacked by some of the Home Guards, when they retreated, leaving, 5 prisoners in the possession of the Home Guards.
The rebels went to Emmitsburg, and from there to Waynesborough, and were proceeding toward Boonsborough, when, on being informed of the advance of Pleasonton, they changed their course and proceeded with all haste to the Potomac, in a more easterly direction, and, as I was informed, by telegraph from Major-General McClellan, in the following language, viz:
General Pleasonton, who was in pursuit of the rebel cavalry reports that they have been driven back, into Virginia, crossing the Potomac near the mouth of the Monocacy, and having marched 90 miles in the previous twenty-four hours, while Pleasonton, in pursuit, marched 78 miles in the same time.
Colonel Cram, under whose direction I placed the troops at Gettysburg, reported to me on Sunday that the rebels had retired to Harbach’s Valley.
On Monday, 2.30 p. m., he reported, by telegram, that a part of the rebels he thought, from information received, were yet in Harbach’s Valley. He sent scouts to ascertain, who were to report to him last night or this morning. I think the colonel will find that all the rebel cavalry have returned into Virginia, and have probably escaped altogether the vigilance of Major-General McClellan, having, in the mean time, made nearly the whole circle of the army of the Potomac-certainly a bold and daring enterprise, in the execution of which the soldiers at Chambersburg changed the rags which covered the for the uniform clothing of the United States, and supplied themselves on their route with 1,000 fresh horses, besides destroying, at Chambersburg, the railroad depot, with all the rolling-stock. They also tore up some of the rails of the road, and destroyed several bridges.
Staff and myself were in motion from Friday evening until yesterday afternoon at 2 o’clock when we returned to Baltimore. During that time we had no rest or sleep, except what little could be taken in the cars.
From want of cavalry, we could not follow the enemy, as he, from reports made to me, kept continually on the trot, and sometimes even galloped his horses.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
John E. Wool, Major General”
While at headquarters near Frederick, Maryland, Colonel Rush wrote in his official report of what he witnessed during General Stuart’s Raid into Pennsylvania and Maryland. He mentions the Emmitsburg area in great detail.
“Headquarters Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry, Camp near Frederick, Md., October 13, 1862
General: I have the honor to report that, on Saturday morning, at 6.30 o’clock, your note, requiring me to scout the country north of Frederick, to gain intelligence of that force and movements of Stuart’s cavalry, was at once executed by my sending four small companies (140 men) toward Emmitsburg and Gettysburg. they left my camp by 8 a. m. no information or rumors of the enemy could be obtained by them between this place and Emmitsburg, which point they reached at 4 p. m. They then pushed on toward Gettysburg, scouting well to their left, and had not left Emmitsburg an hour when information was brought them from the rear that the advance guard (about 400 strong) of the rebels had charged into Emmitsburg and held the place. The rebels entirely cutting off all communication between my pickets and myself. All the couriers sent to me, to apprise me of the presence of the rebels, were turned back until after midnight.
At 3 p. m. on the 11th I received a telegraphic order from General Marcy to send one squadron at once to Middletown, to picket and scout the valley northward. This was at once done, but no important report or information was received from them.
At 6.30 p. m. of the 11th was received, directing me to extend my scouts toward Gettysburg, &c., and informing me that Stuart had left Chambersburg in the morning on the Gettysburg road; also that General Pleasonton was to be at Mechanicstown, and to communicated with him, &c., and to call on the First Maine Cavalry if I wanted more force, &c.
Rumors from Frederick reaching me at about 7 p. m. that the rebels were reported to be at or near Emmitsburg, and knowing that General Pleasonton would cover the pike through Mechanicstown, I at once called on Colonel Allen, of the First Maine Cavalry, for one company, and sent my only remaining, company, these two companies to proceed one to Woodsborough and one to Johnsville, and to cover the line of country with scouts from the vicinity of Creagerstown, Woodsborough, New Windors, and toward Westminster, and to communicate any information to General Pleasonton and myself.
As my company, ordered to Woodsborough, entered the town at 10.30 p. m., they found the head of the rebel column just passing through and taking the road to Liberty. This information was communicated to me at 12 midnight, with information that it, had also been sent to General Pleasonton, at Mechanicstown. This information being soon confirmed, that the rebel column was all passing toward Liberty, I at once sent a message and dispatch to General Marcy and yourself to that effect. A large portion of the rebel column halted between Woodsborough and Liberty, to feed and get information of our forces. Their rear guard did not leave Liberty until 7 a. m. of the 12th. I had no force whatever left me to follow their rear, or in any way to harass their march.
I have no casualties to report in my regiment. I would especially commend to your notice Corpl. John Anders, of Company D, regiment of Lancers, for gallantry on scout at Woodsborough. He dismounted and entered the town on foot, in disguise, while the rebel column was passing; talked freely with their men; was suspected and detained, and escaped and rejoined me soon after daylight, bringing most valuable information; also Private Joseph Dougherty, of the same company and regiment, for gallantry in dashing; through Emmitsburg while it was occupied by the enemy, in order to carry a message to my companies near Gettysburg.
I regret very much that this second raid has been so successfully accomplished by Stuart’s cavalry; but, with the small and crippled force at my disposal near this town (but seven companies, of about 275), it has been impossible for me to do more than I have done to check this unfortunate raid.
My scouts captured 12 prisoners, a very intelligent young man, Jonathan Scott, of the First Virginia Cavalry. He tells me that the rebel force consisted of the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth and Tenth Virginia Cavalry; the First and Second North Carolina Cavalry; the Cobb Legion, and the Jeff. Davis Legion, and was between 4,000 and 5,000 strong, and that they had captured and carried off 1,500 horses from Pennsylvania. This prisoner I have turned over to Colonel Allen, at Frederick, Md. He also states that they entered at Dam Numbers 5, and were to leave at Edwards Ferry.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant, Richard H. Rush, Colonel Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry, Lancers.”
In his official report Major General Alfred Pleasonton recalls the Emmitsburg area while in pursuit of the Confederate Cavalry under General Stuart.
“Headquarters Cavalry Division, Camp near Knoxville, Md., October 13 1862.
General: I have the honor to report the movements of my command in pursuit of the rebels who recently made a raid to Chambersburg. Pa.
On Saturday morning [October 11], at 4 o’clock I received my orders to start with my command, and soon after I was en route to Hagerstown where I arrived at about 11 a. m. Receiving information there that the rebels were moving in the direction of Mercersburg, I started with my command toward Clear Spring, on the Hancock road, to intercept them, had proceeded some 4 miles when I was ordered to halt, by dispatch from headquarters, and await further orders.
About 1.30 P.M, I received orders to move to Mechanicstown, via Cavetown and Harman’s Gap, sending patrols to Emmitsburg and Gettysburg to obtain information of the enemy. I executed these orders, and arrived at Mechanicstown about 8.30 p. m., from which point I sent out scouts in the direction of Emmitsburg, Taneytown, Middleburg, and Graceham, and picketing all the roads in that vicinity.
At 12.30 a. m. my scouts in the direction of Middleburg reported that the rebel cavalry, under Stuart had passed through a small town, called Rocky Ridge, some 5 miles to the east of Mechanicstown, one hour before that time, taking a private road to Woodsborough, to which place said they were going, and from thence to Liberty, on the road to the Monocacy. They had traveled at a trot, and were continuing to do so. As soon as I received this information I started immediately for the mouth of the Monocacy, via Frederick City, passing through the latter about 5 o’clock in the morning, and reaching the Monocacy about 8 a. m. Upon my arrival I found some 400 or 500 infantry guarding the canal aqueduct, and picketing the roads, and fords in the vicinity. They told me that they had not seen or heard anything of the enemy. I immediately crossed to Monocacy with the portion of my command that had come up, viz, a part for the Eighth Illinois Cavalry, a part of the Third Indiana Cavalry, and two guns of Pennington’s battery, and sent forward a company on the Barnesville road to reconnoiter that place, while the main column should move in the direction of Poolesville, to take up a position most suitable for covering the fords in that vicinity.
A. Pleasonton, Brigadier-General, Commanding”
General Stuart wrote in his official report about the expedition into Maryland and Pennsylvania. He gives in great detail how his cavalry moved throughout the countryside in Pennsylvania and also in Maryland. He also explains the citizens and how his cavalry treated them.
“Headquarters Cavalry Division, October 14, 1862.
Colonel: I have the honor to report that, on the 9th instant, in compliance with instructions from the commanding general Army of Northern Virginia, I proceeded on an expedition into Pennsylvania with a cavalry force of 1,800 and four pieces of horse artillery, under command of Brigadier-General Hampton and Cols. W. H. F. Lee and Jones. This force rendezvoused at Darkesville at 12 m., and marched thence to the vicinity of Hedgesville, where it encamped for the night.
At daylight next morning, October 10, I crossed the Potomac at McCoy’s(between Williamsport and Hancock) with some little opposition, capturing two or there horses of enemy’s pickets. We were told here by citizens that a large force had encamped the night before at Clear Spring, and were supposed to be en route to Cumberland. We proceeded northward until we reached the turnpike leading from Hagerstown to Hancock (known as the National road). Here a signal station on the mountain and most of the party, with their flags and apparatus, were surprised and captured, and also 8 or 10 prisoners of war, from whom, as well as from citizens, I found that the large force alluded to had crossed but an hour ahead of me toward Cumberland, and consisted of six regiments of Ohio troops and two batteries, under General Cox, and were en route via Cumberland for the Kanawha.
I sent back this intelligence at once to the commanding general. Striking directly across the National road, I proceeded in the direction of Mercersburg, Pa., which point was reached about 12m. I was extremely anxious to reach Hagerstown, where large supplies were stored, but was satisfied, from reliable information, the notice the enemy had of my approach and the proximity of his forces would enable him to prevent my capturing it. I therefore turned toward Chambersburg. I did not reach this point until after dark, in a rain. I did not deem it safe to defer the attack until morning, nor was it proper to attack a place full of women and children without summoning it first to surrender.
I accordingly sent in a flag of truce, and found no military or civil authority in the place, but some prominent citizens who met the officer were notified that the place would be occupied, and if any resistance were made, the place would be shelled in there minutes. Brig, General Wade Hampton’s command, being in advance, took possession of the place, and I appointed him military governor of the city. No incident occurred during the night, during which it rained continuously. The officials all fled the town on our approach, and no one could be found who would admit that he held office in the place. About 275 sick and wounded in hospital were paroled. During the day a large number of horses of citizens were seized and brought along. The wires were cut, and railroad obstructed, and Colonel Jones’ command was sent up the railroad toward Harrisburg to destroy a trestle-work a few miles off. He, however, reported that it was constructed of iron, and he could not destroy it.
Next morning it was ascertained that a large number of small-arms and munitions of war were stored about the railroad buildings, all of which that could not be easily brought away were destroyed, consisting of about 5,000 new muskets, pistols, sabers, ammunition; also a large assortment of army clothing. The extensive machine-shops and depot buildings of the railroad and several trains of loaded cars were entirely destroyed. From Chambersburg, I decided, after mature consideration, to strike for the vicinity of Leesburg as the best route of return, particularly as Cox’s command would have rendered the direction of Cumberland, full of mountain gorges, particularly hazardous. The route selected was through an open country.
Of course I left nothing undone to prevent the inhabitants from detecting my real route and object. I started directly toward Gettysburg, but, having passed the Blue Ridge, turned back toward Hagerstown for 6 or 8 miles, and then crossed to Maryland, by Emmitsburg, where, as we passed, we were hailed by the inhabitants with the most enthusiastic demonstrations of joy. A scouting party of 150 lancers had just passed toward Gettysburg, and I regretted exceedingly that my march did not admit of the delay necessary to catch them.
Taking the road toward Frederick, we intercepted dispatches from Colonel Rush (lancers) to the commander of the scout, which satisfied me that our whereabouts was still a problem to the enemy. Before reaching Frederick I crossed the Monocacy, continued the march through the night, via Liberty, New Market, Monrovia, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, where we cut the telegraph wires and obstructed the railroad. We reached, at daylight, Hyattstown, on McClellan’s line of wagon communication with Washington, but we found only a few wagons to capture, and pushed on to Barnesville, which we found just vacated by a company of the enemy’s cavalry. We had here corroborated what we had heard before, that Stoneman had between 4,000 and 5,000 troops about Poolesville and guarding the river fords.
I lost not a man killed on the expedition, and only a few slight wounds. The enemy’s loss is not known, but Pelham’s one gun compelled the enemy’s battery to change it position three times. The remainder of the march was destitute of interest. The conduct of the command and their behavior toward the inhabitants is worthy of the highest praise; a few individual cases only were exceptions in this particular.
Brigadier-General Hampton and Colonels Lee, Jones, Wickham, and Butler, and the officers and men under their command, are entitled to my lasting gratitude for their coolness in danger and cheerful obedience to orders. Unoffending persons were treated with civility, and the inhabitants were generous in proffers of provisions on the march. We seized and brought over a large number of horses, the property of citizens of the United States. The valuable information obtained in this reconnaissance as to the distribution of the enemy’s force communicated orally to the commanding general, and need not be here repeated. A number of public functionaries and prominent citizens were taken captives and brought over as hostages for our own unoffending citizens, whom the enemy has form from their homes and confined in dungeons in the North. One or two of my men lost their way, and are probably in the hands of the enemy.
The results of this expedition, in a moral and political point of view, can hardly be estimated, and the consternation among property holders in Pennsylvania beggars description. I am especially indebted to Captain B. S. White (C. S. Cavalry) and to Messrs. Hugh Logan and Harbaugh, whose skillful guidance was of immense service to me. My staff is entitled to my thanks for untiring energy in the discharge of their duties.
I enclose a map to appear in Atlas of the expedition, drawn by Captain William W. Blackford, to accompany this report: also a copy of orders enforced during the march. Believing that the hand of God was clearly manifested in the signal deliverance of my command from danger, and the crowning success attending it, I ascribe to Him the praise, the honor, and the glory.
I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant, J. E. B. Stuart, Major-General, Commanding Cavalry. CSA”
At daylight of October 12, General Stuarts advance guard entered Hyattstown, over 33 miles from Emmitsburg. General Stuart along with his men and artillery had traveled an amazing 65 miles within 20 hours. By the time General Stuart reached Hyattstown on October 12th, Cole’s cavalry caught up with the rear of Confederate cavalry. A skirmish developed and seven Confederate troopers were captured.
The Federal cavalry had several opportunities to attack General Stuart’s cavalry at Emmitsburg and Rocky Ridge. With false intelligence, missed opportunities, and the slowness of the Federal couriers of these intelligence dispatches had allowed General Stuart more time to get further away.