Hanover Junction residents rued visit by New York infantry
Hanover Junction, Pennsylvania, was an important railroad intersection and telegraphic communications center during the American Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln paused there in November 1863 while a new locomotive was coupled to his train. He was en route to Gettysburg to deliver what later became known as the Gettysburg Address. Earlier that summer, Confederate cavalry raided Hanover Junction and destroyed the bridge and other railroad structures, as well as rails and telegraph wires.
It was not the first time that the residents of the sleepy track-side hamlet had been terrorized by the prospects of armed soldiers raiding their property.
A year before, in mid-October 1862, the culprits were United States soldiers.
Here is a passage from the History of the One Hundred and Twenty-eighth New York, D. H. Hanabaugh, author (Pokeepsie, NY, 1894).
Nothing of special importance transpired until the nth of October, when the rebel General Stewart [J.E.B. Stuart] made his famous raid into Pennsylvania and greatly frightened all the people of that State. Orders were now received for the 128th to take two days rations and be ready to move. We left camp at 10:30 A. M. and marched to the depot of the Pennsylvania Central Railroad, and then lay in the streets all night. At seven o’clock the next morning we took cars for Gettysburg. Several other regiments formed a part of the expedition, the whole under the direction of Major General John E. Wool, who was in command of the Army Corps at Baltimore and other stations.
A general and hearty welcome was given us along the way by the people of the various villages, which was expressed in their generous gifts of fruit, apple-butter, and eatables of all kinds. This expression was especially abundant at Hanover, where we made quite a lengthy stop.
We reached Gettysburg in the evening of the 13th, and remained in the cars during the night. About ten o’clock of the 14th, the grand entree was made into the town, and quite hastily, as it was reported that the enemy was advancing. We took possession of the public square. The bakers supplied us, while lying in the streets, with hot molasses “Bolivars” at low prices. The new rush of visitors did not cause the price of board and provisions to go up. Pickets were posted on all roads leading to the village.
The Confederate cavalry were reported to be within two miles of the place when we took possession. The citizens were greatly excited. Teamsters came within our lines with heated horses showing the great haste with which they had driven and their fear of being overtaken. Their haste had exaggerated the progress of the enemy. On learning of our arrival General Stewart took the gentle hint and fell back across the Potomac.
We left Gettysburg about 10 A. M. of the 15th, to return to Baltimore. Near Hanover Junction a railroad bridge had been broken a brief time before, by the passage of a train of coal cars, in consequence of which our train was delayed. The apple orchards near by suffered somewhat. Men and women in the homes where attempts were made to purchase provisions, were alarmed to find so many blue coats in their midst, and perhaps not knowing enough about the soldier’s garb to make the distinction, and frightened by the rumors of the advancing rebels, fled upon our approach. On this trip, the 128th received the praise of being the best behaved Regiment which had passed over this road.
We reached “Camp Millington” near evening on the 17th. The 38th Massachusetts, supposing we did not intend to return to our camp, had carried off our flag-pole. Learning of their mistake, they soon returned it to its former position. We found the 150th New York Volunteer Infantry, which was raised in Dutchess County soon after our own Regiment was completed, and under the command of Colonel Ketcham, had arrived during our absence and encamped near our grounds. Hearing of our long fast they generously brought of their cooked rations and supplied our immediate wants. A strong bond of fellowship was formed between the two Regiments never to be broken.”