Historical Markers
Gettysburg Campaign [Stuart in Carlisle] Historical Marker
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Gettysburg Campaign [Stuart in Carlisle]

Hershey/Gettysburg/Dutch Country Region


Marker Location:
Pennsylvania Route 74 just east of Carlisle near I-81

Dedication Date:
July 29, 1947

Behind the Marker

Following the cavalry marker Battle of Hanover on June 30, 1863, Confederate cavalry leader J. E. B. Stuart moved his weary men toward York.
This contemporary Harpers Illustration depicts members of the New York militia under fire from J.E.B.Stuart's horse artillery on July 2, 1863 in Carlisle.
Members of the New York militia under fire from J.E.B.Stuart's horse artillery...
Local newspapers he had appropriated along the march had printed stories of markerGeneral Jubal A. Early's march across York County and the skirmish at markerWrightsville. Thus, Stuart hoped to link up with Early sometime on July 1.

By sunup, having marched all night, Stuart's column reached the York Pike seven miles west of the city. But there were no signs of fellow Confederates anywhere in the area. Frustrated, Stuart turned his troopers to the northwest, arriving at Dover sometime later in the morning. Here, Stuart permitted his bone-weary men four hours of rest. But he also sent out squads of men in every direction, trying to locate friendly troops. Stuart also dispatched an aide and a small escort due west to find the army.

After the rest period in Dover, Stuart headed his troopers northwest toward Carlisle, hoping to find at least some of Richard S. Ewell's troops there. Already exhausted, many of Stuart's troopers were now riding two to a horse because so many horses had broken down during the march north since crossing the Potomac. As they made their way across South Mountain on their ride to Carlisle, men were dozing in the saddle and occasionally falling off their mounts. Horses shuffled along and as they did, the column became more and more spread out along the road.
Oil on canvas of "Return of Stuart." by Mort Künstler.
Return of Mort Künstler.

Toward the evening of July 1, General Fitzhugh Lee's brigade approached Carlisle, only to discover Yankee militia led by General William F. Smith. After the June 30 fighting at markerSporting Hill, Smith had marched his men to Carlisle, where they had arrived earlier that day. By dark, Smith had moved three brigades of infantry and two artillery batteries into Carlisle. Overjoyed by the arrival of the men in blue, townspeople had brought long tables loaded with food out onto Main Street near the square, and invited the incoming militiamen to help themselves.

This was the state of affair in downtown Carlisle when the Rebel cavalry approached. When General Stuart learned that Yankee militia occupied the town, he ordered Fitz Lee to press ahead and demand that the Yankees surrender. Stuart's men then marched past the Carlisle Barracks, unlimbered a six-gun battery of cannon, and fired a brief barrage of shells toward the center of town.

The sudden noise of artillery shells brought the merriment to a screeching halt as townspeople ran for cover and the soldiers fell into line. Stuart sent in a flag of truce with a request that the Yanks surrender. Smith politely refused. A half hour later, the general refused a second demand of surrender.

The Rebels then resumed their shelling of Carlisle. One of Smith's batteries fired three shots in return, but their firing only served to indicate their position and make it easier for the Rebels to find their range. Still, no civilian was hurt, and perhaps a dozen militiamen were wounded before the shelling ceased around midnight.

Stuart then sent in a third surrender demand, which Smith again refused. So the Rebels again fired, for about an hour, then called it quits. They had fired 134 rounds into Carlisle. By that time, Stuart's aide had returned from General Robert E. Lee's headquarters with orders for the cavalry to march to Gettysburg.

Before departing, Fitz Lee ordered the destruction of the Carlisle Barracks. His men also set fire to the town gas works and a lumber yard. According to local accounts, sparks from this fire spread and consumed several barns and at least one home.

Out of touch with Lee's army for more than a week, Stuart marched his tired troopers southward through Papertown and Heidlersburg toward Gettysburg. Lee's "eyes and ears" were finally heading for the battlefield.

There, on July 3, Stuart would take his troopers east around the Union flank and attempt to get into the rear of the Army of the Potomac. But Union horse soldiers intercepted them and a large cavalry battle took place east of Gettysburg. Here, a young and ambitious George Armstrong Custer played a prominent role in repelling the horsemen in gray.
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