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Confederate campsite, June 30, 1863

A view looking westward on Pennsylvania Route 234 (East Berlin Road) at Plum Run, near Round Hill.

The quiet evening of June 30, 1863, was the final night on earth for more than a thousand soldiers in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, and a similar number for the I and XI Corps of the Army of the Potomac. Rodes’ Division of Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell’s Second Corps camped just north of Heidlersburg, Pennsylvania. Three miles east of the village was the camp of the division of Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early, consisting of brigades from Georgia, Virginia, Louisiana, and North Carolina, as well as artillery and cavalry.

Here is a brief passage from Old Jube’s official report for the Gettysburg Campaign: “At East Berlin, a small squad of the enemy’s cavalry was seen and pursued by my cavalry advance, and I received information at this point from Colonel White that a cavalry and infantry force had been on the York road, at Abbott s Ford, but had moved south toward Hanover. A courier from General Ewell met me here with a dispatch, informing me of the fact that he was moving with Rodes’ division by the way of Petersburg to Heidlersburg, and directing me to march in that direction. I encamped about 3 miles from Heidlersburg, and rode to see General Ewell at that point, and was informed by him that the object was to concentrate the corps at or near Cashtown, and received directions to move next day to that point. I was informed that Rodes would move by the way of Middletown and Arendtsville, but it was arranged that I should go by the way of Hunterstown and Mummasburg. Having ascertained that the road from my camp to Hunterstown was a very rough and circuitous one, I determined next morning (July 1) to march by the way of Heidlersburg, and then from that point to the Mummasburg road.”

One of the Confederate campsites along Plum Run, looking toward the southwest from the previous location. I have been unable to identify which specific brigade camped where, and the sites are all private property so please don’t relic hunt or trespass.

“That evening was pleasant and clear, and stars twinkled overhead. Captain William Seymour, the adjutant of the Louisiana Tigers, is one of the few soldiers whose writings from this campsite have been preserved. He walked among his men and observed that they were ready for a scrap. He believed “it was inspiring to see the spirits of the men rise at the prospect of a fight. We all knew that, were Meade’s Army to be defeated, the roads to Washington, Philadelphia and Baltimore would be open to us.”