Dillsburg’s postmaster chronicles the Rebel invasion
Early 20th century view of downtown Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, looking up Baltimore Street, the town’s main street. A. N. Eslinger’s post office and store were on the east side of the street in the middle of the block as one walked toward the town square from Locust Alley. Courtesy of DIllsburg Online.
Augustus N. Eslinger became the postmaster of Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, in early 1863 following a succession of other local merchants and businessmen to hold the position. Eslinger would give the office stability, capably filling the job until July 1885. A. N. and Agnes (Diller) Eslinger raised several children in Dillsburg and among the borough’s leading citizens throughout the mid and late 1800s. A proud pro-Union man, he named one of his sons Edwin Lincoln Eslinger.
In 1902, the former postmaster became an author, writing and publishing an interesting little book on the history of his adopted hometown, entitled Local History of Dillsburg, Pa. By then, he was in his fiftieth year as a resident.
Among his collection of memories and thoughts is a brief treatise on the pair of Confederate cavalry incursions – one a raid by Brigadier General Albert Gallatin Jenkins and then a subsequent and unrelated trip through town by the partial division of Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, which paused in Dillsburg on July 1 after marching up from Dover, Pa.
Here is A. N. Eslinger’s rarely retold eyewitness account of Dillsburg during the Gettysburg Campaign…
INVASION OF THE CONFEDERATES.
On June 28th, 18G3, part of the Confederate Army came into Dillsburg on Sunday afternoon. This was part of General Ewell’s Corps. They were under the command of Col. Jenkins. They encamped over night just a short distance south of the borough. They sent squads of their soldiers into Dillsburg for provisions, such as bread, meat, coffee and tobacco, &c, and offered to pay for it in Confederate script, but it was worthless to our people. They left the camp on Monday morning the 29th, after taking all the good horses in the borough and from the farmers all around the country.
On the following Wednesday, July 1st, 1863, the battle of Gettysburg opened, and the cannonading could be heard distinctly in Dillsburg, and on the same day Stuart’s cavalry
passed through Dillsburg. They numbered probably about eight thousand, under the command of General Fitz Hugh Lee and General Wade Hampton. They robbed the stores in Dillsburg, and the post office of all the money and stamps and even the postmaster’s overcoat, and all the goods they could find in the stores. Fitz Hugh Lee led his brigade up to Carlisle, bombarded the town, and burned the United States Garrison, located there at that time.
General Wade Hampton led his brigade out north as far as John Mumper’s farm, where he camped for the night. This place is about one and one-half miles north of the Borough. But before morning they got word to come to Gettysburg immediately, so they all left during the night for the battlefield by the way of the mountain road through Beaver town, to the State road that leads to Gettysburg. This was the last of the Confederate army in Dillsburg, and it was a happy riddance to our town and the vicinity.
Recent posts on the Confederate incursion into Dillsburg and Carroll Township:
In the Footsteps of J.E.B. Stuart: Dillsburg merchants robbed
In the Footsteps of J.E.B. Stuart: Dillsburg
In the Footsteps of J.E.B. Stuart: Rebels enter Carroll Township
Dillsburg grocer arrested by U.S. government; later raided by J.E.B. Stuart
For all posts on the Dillsburg area, please click here.