The 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry visits York County
The Hanover Branch Railroad’s station house at Hanover Junction, Pennsylvania, has been restored to approximate its 1863 appearance.
Background post: The Hanover Junction cavalry countermarch, an account of William Miller of the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Among the Union cavalry troops in David M. Gregg’s division who visited Hanover Junction on July 1, 1863, was the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry, also known as the 60th Pennsylvania regiment. One of the earliest cavalry regiments to be mustered from the commonwealth, it was recruited during the spring and summer of 1861, under the direction of Colonel William H. Young. It was initially known as Young’s Light Kentucky Cavalry. Companies A, C, F, K and M were recruited in Philadelphia, with the majority of the rest of the men from Chester, Clinton, Allegheny, Delaware, and Schuylkill counties. Company D wasn’t from Pennsylvania at all; it had been recruited in Washington D.C. from residents of the District of Columbia.
A few years after the war, the regimental historian briefly discussed the troopers’ activities in southwestern York County. This is one of the very few accounts that mentions the Union vanguard encountering stragglers from J.E.B. Stuart’s Confederate column and capturing them at Hanover Junction. Other stragglers from Stuart’s column had reached Gettysburg on July 1, where they were spotted by Jubal Early’s men.
“None but small parties of Confederates, chiefly stragglers, were encountered, for Kilpatrick, whose duty it was to cover the center and front of the advance of the army, had taken the direct and shorter road from Frederick, by way of Littlestown, and at Hanover had intercepted Stuart’s line of march, thus heading him off and compelling him to move over to the right in the direction of Dover and Carlisle. At Manchester the division again became united. That night some much needed sleep was snatched and something to eat, and shortly after daybreak of the next day (July i) we were again in the saddle.
The division continued its march, crossing “Mason and Dixon’s Line” into Pennsylvania. Upon reaching Hanover Junction it was found that the railroad track had been destroyed and the telegraph wires cut, and the fag end of a portion of Stuart’s command was encountered and captured or dispersed. The main column halted for a short time at Hanover Junction, and a scouting party was sent out on the right flank in the direction of York. During the halt orders were received to send a brigade back on the road we had just traversed, for the purpose of guarding the rear of the army and protecting the trains which were to assemble at Westminster, and for the balance of the division to move in the direction of Gettysburg, where the army was concentrating.
Accordingly, Huey’s Brigade with Fuller’s Horse Battery started back for Manchester, while Mclntosh’s and Irvin Gregg’s Brigades with Randol’s Horse Battery, under General Gregg, together with Rank’s two guns and the Purnell Troop, continued on to Hanover, which was reached about one o’clock that night.
The march had been a terrible one, especially from Manchester to Hanover. We had previously been in the saddle on an average for twenty hours out of the twenty-four for three days, without sleep and with scarcely anything to eat for either man or horse. The intense heat at times was almost unbearable, the dust almost impenetrable. Horses by scores fell from exhaustion along the road.
The route in rear of the column toward the last presented a motley appearance. Officers and men, begrimed past recognition, tramped along on foot, leading their worn-out horses to save their strength, well knowing how much depended upon it. Dismounted cavalrymen, whose horses had fallen dead or dying, struggled along, some carrying their saddles and bridles in hopes of being able to beg, borrow, buy, or help themselves to fresh mounts, others without anything but their arms. All strained their energies in the one direction where they knew the enemy was to be found. The men of Rank’s section of artillery implored to be allowed to rest and get something to eat. Such hardships they had never before endured, but the rest denied to others was likewise denied to them.
But little time for rest or other bodily refreshment was allowed at Hanover, for by 3 o’clock next morning (July 2) we were off for Gettysburg as hard as we could march.”