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Modern view of The Picket. (Scott Mingus photo)

159th anniversary of the Battle of Hanover

June 30, 1863. 159 years ago today in York County, Pa.
  1. Having received orders to withdraw from York and head toward Heidlersburg to rejoin the Second Corps, Maj. Gen. Jubal Early’s division breaks camp and marches westward at dawn. Most of the soldiers use Davidsburg Road or Canal Road to reach East Berlin Road; White’s cavalry takes the York-Gettysburg Turnpike.
  2. York Countians believe the danger is over, and word quickly spreads that Early is gone. Throughout the day, men who had hidden their horses begin to return to their farms with their animals.
  3. Elements of a Union cavalry division under Judson Kilpatrick ride through Hanover in mid-morning to the cheers of the populace and head northward toward the York-Gettysburg Turnpike. They are unaware that Early’s entire division has been using roads that could intersect their path.
  4. As the 18th PA Cavalry, in Kilpatrick’s rear, approaches Hanover on the Frederick Road the vanguard of Maj. Gen. Jeb Stuart’s three brigades rides in on the Westminster Road. They collide, triggering the Battle of Hanover. As soldiers battle in the streets, some residents, including women, reportedly fire at the Rebels from their windows.
  5. As Stuart feeds in more troops, Kilpatrick gallops back to Hanover from the Pigeon Hills to direct the fighting. Union cavalrymen almost capture Stuart and a staff officer, who escape by leaping their horses over a 15-foot-wide stream south of Hanover.
  6. Fighting rages most of the day as Stuart, not knowing that Early had left York hours ago, slowly withdraws his force one brigade at a time and heads through Jefferson toward York.
  7. At New Salem, Stuart learns that Early is long gone and decides to head toward Carlisle via Dover, which will be his campsite for the night. The lead elements do not arrive in Dover until 2 a.m. on July 1.