Historical Markers
Gettysburg Campaign [Cumberland Valley] Historical Marker
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Gettysburg Campaign [Cumberland Valley]

Hershey/Gettysburg/Dutch Country Region


Marker Location:
US 11 at north end of Chambersburg

Dedication Date:
December 5, 1947

Behind the Marker

Portrait of Confederate General Robert Emmet Rodes, by William D. Washington, ca. 1863. (VMI Class of 1848).
Confederate General Robert Emmet Rodes, ca. 1863.
The markermain Confederate invasion of Pennsylvania began in earnest on June 22, 1863. As before, General Albert G. Jenkins' cavalry led the advance across the Mason-Dixon Line. After occupying Chambersburg, Jenkins went into camp north of the town at Shirk's Hill, waiting for the order to continue north up the Cumberland Valley. When the infantry of Robert Rodes' Division began to arrive in Chambersburg, General Richard S. Ewell gave Jenkins the order to proceed north in advance of his corps.

Jenkins immediately mounted his brigade and started north up the pike, present-day US Route 11. The advance quickly ground to a crawl as Captain William Boyd's troopers sparred with the advancing Rebels. Repeating a tactic that had worked well in previous engagements, Boyd deployed his small company as if to charge. Then, as the enemy dismounted and prepared to receive his attack, Boyd wheeled his men around and fell back to the next advantageous piece of terrain.

With all this maneuvering, Jenkins did not reach Shippensburg, eleven miles away, until around one o'clock in the afternoon of June 24. There, storekeeper J. C. Attick recorded the Confederate arrival in his daily diary:

"Wednesday, June 24, 1863
Clear warm and pleasant all day and evening. Night clear and moonlight. At home all day and night. Stores all closed. Quite an excitement all forenoon. 1 o'clock P.M. the Rebels came into and took possession of the Town our Cavelry about 75 retiring slowly before them. A Surgeon came in and took about 250 $ worth of drugs paid in Confederate scrip. Town very quiet all evening."

Once in Shippensburg, Jenkins seemed to be in a quandary. The next major town to the north was Carlisle, the county seat of Cumberland County, and only twenty-odd miles from Harrisburg, the state capital. The question was which way to go?

Three roads led from Shippensburg to Carlisle-the main valley pike, a road through Newville on the left, and the Walnut Bottom Road to the right. Since the Yankees might be anywhere and could come down any of these roads to attack him, Jenkins spread his men out and placed strong picket forces on each road and in the territory between them.
"The Scouting Party", by Edwin Forbes, between 1839-1864.

While Jenkins deployed his men, Captain Boyd kept up the pressure on the invaders by staging several quick raids against the enemy during the night. The sudden firing unnerved Jenkins, who sent a courier back to Chambersburg reporting that he was under attack and needed support. Shortly after midnight, Rodes dispatched General Junius Daniel and his large brigade of North Carolinians, to support Jenkins. They arrived around five in the morning of June 25.

The next day the rest of Rodes' Division marched north and went into camp just south of Shippensburg. Soon, Edward Johnson's Division joined them. It had rained heavily the night previous, so muddy roads had slowed the trek from Chambersburg to Shippensburg. By late afternoon, however, Ewell had two of his divisions on hand for the next phase of the planned attack on Harrisburg. The next day they would march up the Cumberland Valley and occupy the town of Carlisle.
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