Confederate Major General James Ewell Brown Stuart led 4,500 Confederate cavalrymen through York County during the Gettysburg Campaign (Library of Congress)
Where was Jeb Stuart’s northernmost campsite in the Gettysburg Campaign?
Tired. Saddle-weary. Hungry. Sleep-deprived. Dulled senses.
The Confederate cavalrymen were deep in enemy territory and in desperate need of rest.
It was the early evening of Wednesday, July 1, 1863. South Mountain cast shadows from the setting sun as Confederate Brigadier General Wade Hampton III and his brigade rode through the streets of Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, and headed out the road toward Carlisle. Two of brigades of Major General J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry division of the Army of Northern Virginia were somewhere ahead of Hampton farther to the northwest in Cumberland County. Stuart himself, with the brigade of Fitzhugh Lee (Robert E. Lee’s nephew), would ride all the way to Carlisle where he would encounter Union troops. His guide, Isaac Fishel of the Union Army’s 166th Pennsylvania, later was tried for desertion and piloting Lee’s brigade through York County. The treasonous York Countian was convicted and sentenced to death (his penalty was later reduced to ten years in prison).
Stuart left orders for General Hampton, protecting about 125 captured Union supply wagons, to set up camp outside of Dillsburg and await further orders. Hampton complied, only to be roused after midnight with new orders to head toward Gettysburg to the southwest, where a battle had raged all day against the Union Army of the Potomac.
Soon, Hampton’s exhausted troopers were back in the saddle again and on the march through the darkness toward York Springs.
The exact site of Hampton’s campsite, the last camp of any organized Confederates in York County, remains somewhat uncertain.
What is known is that Hampton camped on land owned by John Mumper, a horticulturist noted for developing the popular Mumper Vandervere strain of apples.
Here’s what I wrote in my short book, Confederate Calamity: Jeb Stuart’s Cavalry Ride Through York County, Pa.
“John Mumper’s farm was located in Carroll Township at the corner of today’s Route 74 and Campground Road, only a couple of miles from Dillsburg. Nearby, the family mined iron ore, hauling it eight miles on wagons to Mechanicsburg, the nearest railroad station. His sons ran the daily affairs of the farm and mine. Perhaps as many as 1,700 Rebels camped on the 46-year-old Mumper’s farm on July 1. Weeks later, he would die from a massive heart attack.”
Mumper owned at least three farms near Dillsburg, the one near Campground Road northwest of town along today’s Route 74 (the suspected campsite), another one northeast of town off of today’s Harrisburg Pike on Mumper Lane (near modern Calvary United Methodist Church), and the third one close by to the second. I have circled these on this detail from the 1860 Shearer & Lake Map of York County (Library of Congress).
Confederates destroyed Mumper’s prized orchard by breaking off limbs and eating the apples. Wood from the trees and fencing became fuel for Rebel campfires.
While John Mumper had several orchards, I suspect his farm along Route 74 is where Hampton camped. That location gave the Rebels a nearby source of water in Dogwood Run, as well as being on the same road that Stuart and Lee had taken to Carlisle. John Chambliss’s brigade was not far away just across the Cumberland-York county line.
I photographed the suspected campsite in early September 2020.
Another view from Campground Road.
I did not get a chance to speak to the current homeowners about their knowledge of the history of this farm. I am told that at one time, the sprawling apple orchard stretched up the mountainside. A reminder: This is private property so please do not trespass or hunt for Confederate relics without authorization.