145 years ago today – June 30, 1863
James E. B. Brown, CSA Major General, led three brigades of veteran cavalry through southwestern York County after a half-day battle at Hanover.
At dawn, Confederate troops stir in their various camps, enjoy a final breakfast in York County, and prepare to resume their marching. Young Isaac Avery led his brigade out of downtown York, as the Tar Heels gustily sang “We’ll Plant Our Colors on a Northern Hill,” a popular ditty of the day. They picked up the Louisiana Tigers and Smith’s Virginia brigade, and, trailing French’s cavalry, marched toward Davidsburg.
In the meantime…
John Gordon’s Georgians marched westward on Canal Road, while White’s Comanches took the tunrpike toward Abbottstown (today’s Route 30). Several Confederates reported hearing distant artillery fire to the south, toward Hanover. Gordon unlimbered his artillery battery (Tanner’s Courtney Artillery, a veteran battery from Richmond, Virginia) on the Ramer farm in Jackson Township, but, no enemy in sight, they soon limbered and resumed the westward trek.
Concurrently, Jubal Early, Harry Hays, and Billy Smith were finishing their lunch at a Davidsburg tavern (Avery, being the junior brigade commander, was presumable with the resting columns of infantry). All heard the booming, but did not investigate. Early is recorded as supposing it was militia, and may have thought that Gordon was dealing with them. In any event, the sound was from the early part of J.E.B. Stuart’s fight at the Battle of Hanover.
The long Confederate columns resumed their march to Heidlersburg, with Gordon and Tanner rejoining Early in the afternoon. White’s men spotted Federal cavalry near Abbottstown (Judson Kilpatrick’s troopers from the Army of the Potomac), and a West Virginia cavalryman was captured by Early at East Berlin, giving him the first evidence that the Federal Army of the Potomac was near.
In York County, stragglers from Early’s column linger in downtown and along various country roads. Some desert and are never heard from again; others are eventually picked up by Union cavalry patrols.
Stuart’s cavalry battles Kilpatrick most of the afternoon before slowly withdrawing by brigade to the east. He turned northward, and trotted through Jefferson and New Salem, as men paused to steal horses and rob country stores. A brief skirmish near Jefferson results in no casualties, but slows Union pursuit. Late at night, Stuart’s column began to arrive in Dover, where they will finally catch some sleep.