Old memorial plaque recalls J.E.B. Stuart’s occupation of Dover PA
Back in November of 1907, the citizens of Dover, Pennsylvania, commissioned a copper-plated cast iron plaque commemorating the July 1, 1863, raid by Major General J.E.B. Stuart‘s Confederate cavalry on the town and its environs during the Gettysburg Campaign. That plaque was later moved to the Dover Fire Hall when it was built and is now on one side of a small rectangular brick pillar, along with an old fire bell and a flag pole.
The Stuart marker was one of the earliest memorials to the events surrounding Stuart’s Ride unveiled in southern Pennsylvania, and it remembers the suffering of the residents of that day while their small town was occupied by three full brigades of Rebel cavalry, concurrent with the opening of the Battle of Gettysburg some 30 miles to the southwest.
1908 Yearbook of the Pennsylvania Society of New York describes this plaque in its listing of memorials erected in the Keystone State during the previous year:
Dover, York County.–Civil War Memorial Tablet; erected by the citizens of Dover, unveiled November 23. The tablet commemorates the paroling of two hundred and fifty Union soldiers at this point. The inscription on the tablet fully explains its purpose, and is as follows: “Gen. J. E. B. Stuart with three brigades of Confederate cavalry, commanded by Wade Hampton, Fitzhugh Lee and John R. Chambliss, in all 8,000 men, entered Dover on the morning of July 1, 1863, the day the Battle of Gettysburg opened. Stuart had been defeated by Kilpatrick’s cavalry at Hanover, June 30, and marched all night with a train of 125 wagons through Jefferson and York New Salem to Dover, in order to meet Early’s infantry division, which had taken possession of York on June 28. After Stuart had heard that Early had withdrawn from York he marched with his entire column toward Carlisle, and from thence to Gettysburg. Before leaving Dover he paroled about 250 Union prisoners who had been captured at Hanover and elsewhere.” Erected by the citizens of Dover, Nov. 23, 1907.
The Dover Fire Hall and the commemorative display are located one block immediately east of the town square on East Canal Road. Stuart’s ride to Dover was the subject of an article I wrote that was published in the Gettysburg Magazine a couple of years ago.