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Winebrenner home struck by artillery shell during the Battle of Hanover

During the June 30, 1863, Battle of Hanover, Pennsylvania, Confederate horse artillery deployed on a low hill just off the Littlestown-Frederick Road southwest of Hanover. The guns were unlimbered, loaded, and aimed at a distant target – mounted Union cavalry along Frederick Street at the outskirts of the town. The lanyard was pulled and the gun discharged, hurling its iron shell toward the horsemen.
It missed its intended target.
Instead of striking the enemy troopers, the shell found a much different target – a house occupied by terrified civilians.

The Hanover Historical Society erected several wayside markers a few years ago commemorating key spots in and near the town that were associated with the Battle of Hanover. Among them is the Henry Winebrenner house, which is in a remarkable state of preservation and very nicely maintained. This marker recalls the opening of the fighting and the first artillery shots, one of which passed through the Winebrenner family‘s second floor balcony door and slammed into a bureau. It had been fired from a range of approximately 800 yards.

Closeup of the shell as depicted on the wayside marker.

Closeup of Dick Bloom’s photograph of the old Winebrenner door that the shell passed through.

And, finally in this series of closeups, here is the chest of drawers struck by the errant missile. The Hanover Historical Society provided the photo for the wayside marker.

In the mid-1800s, Henry Winebrenner was a wealthy tanner whose business was located in the open farmland immediately southwest of Hanover along the road to Littlestown and on to Frederick, Maryland. His business prospered and he expanded the operation after the war (the larger operation is shown on this 1876 map excerpt). His sturdy brick personal home was located not far from the tannery (up wind one would hope) and can be seen on the map in the cluster of homes on the east side of Frederick Street.

“Sallie” Winebrenner and her daughter Martha were standing on their second floor porch watching the action unfold in the street when they saw a distant flash and a roar from the Rebel artillery. She exclaimed, “We had better go down stairs; we are in danger here.” They ducked into the house just before the shell whizzed right through the doorway, smashed through a chest of drawers, and penetrated into downstairs, where is hit a brick wall in the very room the family was huddled. Concerned that the projectile could detonate at any time, Henry Winebrenner instinctively picked it up and threw it into the yard.
As of the Civil War centennial in 1963, the Winebrenner family still owned the old shell.

Henry Winebrenner was born June 29, 1809 in Heidelberg Township in southwestern York County. He was a son of Peter and Mary (Bargelt) Winebrenner. He married 29-year-old Sarah “Sally” Forney on October 6, 1836 in Emmanuel Reformed Church in Hanover. They initially farmed and operated a saddlery and harness trade before opening a tanning business in 1845, which he operated for the rest of his life. The couple raised six children, three boys and three girls.
Sons Peter F., David E., and Henry Calvin as adults all engaged in business in Baltimore, Maryland. Many of the Winebrenner / Shriver descendants still live in the Maryland / Pennsylvania region.
In 1866, one of the daughters, Mary Winebrenner, married Henry Wirt Shriver, whose post-war reminiscences of his service with he 26th Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia are chronicled in Flames Beyond Gettysburg: The Gordon Expedition, June 1863. The couple owned and operated the Shriver homestead and old mill at Union Mills, Maryland, which is still in existence.
Sallie Winebrenner died January 8, 1878 and Henry followed her in death on March 25, 1886.