The old Ziegler house – did Jeb Stuart and his officers conference here?
Confederate Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart is known to have met with some of his subordinate cavalry officers on the Ziegler property near Hanover Junction, Pennsylvania, as he marched toward York following the June 30, 1863, Battle of Hanover during the Gettysburg Campaign.
At that conference, Stuart abandoned plans to ride to York, recently occupied by Jubal Early’s infantry division, and instead ride northerly to Dover and the Shippensburg Road. Locals had reported that Early had left York and headed up the Carlisle Road toward Dover. Stuart’s inability to connect with Early and the Army of Northern Virginia would have ramifications for the July 1-July 3 Battle of Gettysburg.
However, the exact site of Stuart’s early evening meeting has been debated for years (see my earlier blog post for the background and arguments for this old house as the site and the counterarguments for a long ago razed tavern also owned by the Zieglers).
This photo, and those that follow, was given to me by historian / researcher Ray Kinard. The photographs were taken by descendants of the Zeigler/Ziegler family and are published with Ray’s permission.
The old house has been heavily modified over the years, likely to accommodate the expanding Ziegler clan. John Epley Ziegler (14 Apr 1806 – 19 Nov 1875) was one of the most prominent residents of the region, and his homestead would have been well known to those local civilian hostages that Stuart had forced into being his guides through the unfamiliar countryside northeast of Hanover.
The Ziegler properties in question were located near Hanover Junction, PA, in the southwestern part of rural York County. It is less than twenty miles north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Many of the residents of this region, like Ziegler, were farmers and descendant of early immigrants from southwestern Germany’s Palatinate region that settled here in the late 18th century.
Stuart never mentioned the conference in his official report, but he described the exhausted condition of his men as they rode from the Ziegler farm up and down the extremely undulating southern York County terrain: “General Fitz. Lee’s brigade was put at the head of the column, and he was instructed to push on with the train through Jefferson for York, Pa. and communicate as soon as practicable with our forces. Hampton’s brigade brought up the rear. We were not molested in our march, which, on account of the very exposed situation of our flank and the enemy’s knowledge of it, was continued during the night. The night’s march over a very dark road was one of peculiar hardship, owing to loss of rest to both man and horse.
After a series of exciting combats and night marches, it was a severe tax to their endurance. Whole regiments slept in the saddle, their faithful animals keeping the road unguided. In some instances they fell from their horses, overcome with physical fatigue and sleepiness. Reaching Dover, Pa., on the morning of July 1, I was unable to find our forces. The most I could learn was that General Early had marched his division in the direction of Shippensburg, which the best information I could get seemed to indicate as the point of concentration of our troops.”
For much more on the subject, please see the Ziegler descendants’ website.