Rebels visit Dover – part 2 (Jefferson to York-New Salem)
Three brigades of veteran Confederate cavalry under Major General J.E.B. Stuart passed through scenic York County, Pennsylvania, on June 30, 1863, en route from the Battle of Hanover to Dover, PA where they camped for the evening near Fox Run.
Background post: Rebels visit Dover – Part 1 of a series.
Dover had managed to miss the big one so far, as Jubal Early’s 5,000 infantrymen bypassed the town on June 28 and instead headed farther south to Weigelstown before cutting across York County to the Harrisburg Road near Emigsville and turning south to York. Now, on the afternoon of June 30, Stuart’s three brigades, burdened by a slow moving captured Union supply train of 125 forage-laden wagons, began pulling out of the Hanover vicinity.
Their destination was York, where Stuart hoped to link up with Early, but circumstances would lead them to Dover.
The main route of Stuart’s lengthy column through southwestern York County, as traced using period accounts and old damage claims.
Stuart’s column, led by the Virginia brigade of Brig. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, passed slowly past this period house on the public square in Jefferson, Pennsylvania, en route to Dover. Troopers raided the nearby dry goods stores of Albert Kraft and Henry Rebert.
Stuart’s command left Hanover at different times, with Lee’s brigade in the lead, followed by Colonel John R. Chambliss’s brigade guarding the captured wagons and nearly 300 prisoners of war. Toward evening, Brig. Gen. Wade Hampton III left Hanover as the rear guard. Several farmers in southern Heidelberg Township were struck by raiding parties as Stuart departed, including J. W. Gitt.
At one point in the long day and evening, Hampton’s rearmost regiment was nearly 17 miles behind Fitz Lee’s vanguard. One of Stuart’s officers, John Esten Cooke, paused in Jefferson for what he hoped would be a sumptuous meal cooked by a local girl. However, he would be sadly disappointed.
The southern approach to what is today referred to as York-New Salem. In 1863, it was more often referred to simply as New Salem. There were approximately 20 houses in New Salem when Stuart passed by, the majority of them on the left or western side of the road. The white house is the 1863 J. Shupp house, which was the southernmost house in the villlage. The J. Glatfelter house next door was visited by some of Stuart’s men, who stole a horse, as they did from the Messersmith stable across the street.
Stuart’s weary men silently rode through New Salem, where Stuart dropped off Captain Cooke to await the arrival of Hampton’s brigade. He was to inform the South Carolinian that the new destination was Dover, as Jubal Early had departed York. Scores of farmers in Heidelberg, Manheim, Codorus, and North Codorus townships lost horses to Stuart’s roving patrols, or to stragglers, as the Confederates passed through the countryside.
Captain Cooke paused on a porch in New Salem, possibly the one on the white building seen in this photo, to await Hampton’s arrival. He would be viewed with suspicion by the locals, who were intrigued by the lone enemy cavalry officer dozing off on the portico.
By early evening, the lead elements had reached the Gettysburg-York Turnpike, where a left turn would have allowed them to head westerly and follow part of Early’s Cavalry. However, Cooke reported the locals did not (or would not) speak English, and no one informed the Rebels of the passage a few hours before of Lige White’s cavalry from Early’s command.
A couple of miles later, Stuart crossed over East Berlin Road, which had been used by John Gordon’s brigade and part of the 17th Virginia Cavalry earlier in the day. Again, Stuart did not turn left.
The route of Jeb Stuart’s column northward on South Salem Church Road toward Dover is shown in yellow. They would turn right onto Canal Road to enter the village in the wee hours of the morning of July 1, 1863. Notice all the undulations and contour lines in the map. York County is quite hilly and uneven, and it is not the best terrain for a weary column of horsemen.
Slowed by the wagons and the undulating, hilly terrain, Stuart’s lead brigade crossed over Admire Road and then Davidsburg Road well after dark, again not realizing a left turn at either road would lead them behind Early’s main body, which was camped several miles to the west near Heidlersburg.
Stuart finally made a turn when his column reached the end of South Salem Church Road. A left at this final intersection would have again put him on a path to catch up to Early.
Instead, he turned right and made the short trip into Dover.
To be continued later this week…