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The Hanover Junction cavalry countermarch

While the Battle of Gettysburg raged on July 1, 1863, elements of David M. Gregg’s cavalry division of the Union Army of the Potomac wasted several hours on a fruitless countermarch near Hanover Junction, Pennsylvania, because of conflicting orders the general received from HQ. This was not uncommon in the Civil War (or today).

Per the narrative of Capt. WIlliam E. Miller of the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry… “Our movements at this place illustrate to some extent the uncertainties of the campaign. After a short delay [SLM comment: undoubtedly while the men remained mounted on their horses in the July heat] General Gregg received an order to proceed south toward Baltimore.”

Miller added… “Scarcely was the division drawn out on the road when a second order came directing him to turn about and move north as rapidly as possible toward York… Just as we were starting in the latter direction the final order came to send Huey’s brigade back to Manchester, Maryland, and to march with Mclntosh’s and Irvin Gregg’s brigades westward to Gettysburg.”

Colonel Pennock Huey’s brigade continued southward toward Glen Rock to Maryland. They would miss the Battle of Gettysburg.

Miller recounted… “After losing some valuable time in consequence of these conflicting orders, we (Mclntosh’s and Gregg’s brigades) advanced over a crooked road to Hanover, where we went into bivouac.” They undoubtedly took the Junction Road, even today winding and crooked, to reach Green Valley Road, which would have taken them through Jefferson, Pennsylvania, to Hanover. In my research at the Pennsylvania state archives, I can verify this route from a few damage claims filed by farmers who lost horses to the Union cavalry in this movement.

The old market shed in Hanover’s center square as seen in 1863 (Author’s postcard collection)

Miller wrapped up…”At Hanover we found the streets barricaded with boxes, old carriages and wagons, hay, ladders, barbers’ poles, etc., the marks of Kilpatrick’s encounter with Stuart on the previous day, for the Third Division, while we were making the detour on the right flank, had taken the direct road from Frederick, and at Hanover had intercepted the line of march of the Confederate cavalry while we had been following it up. By this time we had become a sorry-looking body of men, having been in the saddle day and night almost continuously for over three weeks, without a change of clothing or an opportunity for a general wash; moreover we were much reduced by short rations and exhaustion, and mounted on horses whose bones were plainly visible to the naked eye.”

Update 12/2014 from historian Ray Kinard:

“I think Gregg came to Hanover Junction via.the Paptasco road from Limeboro to SticksĀ  then to Brodbecks then right turn to Shaffers church, then south to the junction. To get to Seven Valleys from New Salem you turned right at the top of the hollow to Zieglers church, then down past the pet cemetery to Green Valley road. turn left then to seven Valleys. You had to take Maple St. to get to Hanover Junction from Seven Valleys.”