Historical Markers
Confederate Dead [McConnellsburg] Historical Marker
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Confederate Dead [McConnellsburg]

Hershey/Gettysburg/Dutch Country Region


Marker Location:
PA 16, .4 mile southeast of McConnellsburg

Dedication Date:
February 10, 1948

Behind the Marker

Ledger page from a McConnellsburg store.
Ledger page from a McConnellsburg store.
markerFulton County was off the beaten path, even back in 1863. When the Confederate army invaded Pennsylvania in June 1863, troops came up the Cumberland Valley to the east. But on June 19 and 24, enemy raiding parties crossed the mountain into Fulton County to carry off horses, cattle, and anything else the soldiers in gray deemed useful.

Around 8:30 on the morning of June 29, Captain Abram Jones led his Company A, 1st New York Cavalry, into McConnellsburg, to the cheers of its citizens. After Jones and his thirty-one men tethered their horses, the captain sought refreshment at the Fulton House, and then sent a picket detail east to watch for any Confederates.

Later that morning, a company of unarmed militia cavalry from Huntingdon County rode into town. Their captain, H. M. Morrow, had just started talking to Jones when the New York picket detail came riding into town at the gallop.

"They are coming down the mountain," yelled the sergeant, in response to Jones' query.
"How many?"
"Don't know, not over two hundred."
The captain called out to his company, "Get on your horses and get to your places; "I'll fight them."

Jones quickly devised his plan. He told Morrow to ride his unarmed company, into the courthouse square, and then retreat to the western edge of McConnellsburg. As his men walked their horses westward, the leading Confederate horsemen, Company G, 18th Virginia Cavalry, led by Captain W. D. Ervin, appeared at the crest of a small hill.

Part of General John D. Imboden's command, Ervin's regiment was a mixed force of cavalry and mounted infantry that usually served in western Virginia, raiding Yankee outposts and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Imboden, in response to General Robert E. Lee's orders, had brought his brigade north across the Potomac to guard the rear of Lee's northward advancing army. Scouting across the mountain, Company I this day was moving into McConnellsburg on a reconnaissance.
Dedication of the monument that marks the graves of the two Confederate soldiers killed on June 29, 1863. The ceremony was held in 1929.
Daughters of the Confederacy dedicating the granite monument they placed over...

Seeing Jones' men, Captain Ervin instantly gave his order, "Charge the damn Yankees!" And charge they did, only to see some of Morrow's blue-clad troopers riding down from the square to see what was happening. "Flankers to the right of us," cried out the Rebels, who then hesitated, exactly as Jones had anticipated.

Jones then ordered his own company to wheel about and charge the Rebels. A local merchant who was watching the scene recorded his impressions: " . . . as the sabers went up it seemed as if a bright sheet of steel, about two and a half feet wide by one hundred long, had been suddenly turned up on its edge, the sight of which struck the rebels with fear and confusion."

Alarmed at the Union attack, Captain Ervin ordered a retreat even as Morrow's militia, fearful of the charging Rebels, turned and fled north from McConnellsburg. But they had served their purpose. The Rebels were in retreat, pursued by the New Yorkers, who caught up with their enemy as they galloped up the hill just east of the Fulton House. A few of the Yankees fired their weapons at the fleeing enemy, some of whom fired back, but the majority of the fighting involved cavalry sabers, wielded with intensity by both sides.
Birds-eye view of McConnellsburg, Pa.
Birds-eye view of McConnellsburg, Pa.

The New Yorkers soon overwhelmed the Southerners, killing two, wounding several, and capturing thirty-two, including the captain. Only a few of Jones' troopers were wounded. Captain Jones marched his prisoners to Bloody Run (modern Everett), where the survivors of the Union defeat at Winchester, Virginia, were assembled.

After the skirmish, local citizens carried the bodies of the two dead Confederates into McConnellsburg, where they were laid out in the courthouse until coffins could be made. When the coffins were ready, a funeral procession took the bodies of William B. Moore and Thomas Shelton out the Mercersburg Pike and interred them where they fell in action.

At three o'clock, while the funeral was taking place, Confederate General Imboden arrived with his entire brigade. The townspeople waved a white handkerchief to signify that they were unarmed. After Imboden learned what had happened and that there were no Yankee soldiers in McConnellsburg, his soldiers conducted a house-to-house search for weapons, then mounted up and rode back over the mountain into the Cumberland Valley.

In 1929, the Daughters of the Confederacy placed a granite monument over the graves of the two soldiers killed on June 29, 1863. Moore and Sheldon were the first Confederates to be killed in battle in Pennsylvania. In the great battle at Gettysburg that was soon to follow, more than 7,600 Southern and Northern soldiers lost their lives. They would number among the more than 600,000 people who would perish during the course of the American Civil War.
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