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Hanover Junction, Free Press 1973, Part 2

Illustration from November 1973 Free Press article
Illustration from November 1973 Free Press article

Below is part two of three posts transcribing the lengthy article written by Doris B. Miller for the November 22, 1973 Southern York County edition of the Free Press. Click here for part one.

Civil War historian Scott Mingus recently published Soldiers, Spies & Steam: A History of the Northern Central Railway in the Civil War. He devotes at least half a dozen pages to the question of whether President Lincoln disembarked from the train that carried him to Gettysburg on November 18, 1863. Mingus makes some interesting points concerning the photographs. The book is available at the York County History Center bookstore and other outlets.

The 1973 article continues:

The train stopped at Hanover Junction, York County, about 30 miles from Gettysburg. The only railroad entering Gettysburg extended from the Northern Central line here and was named the Hanover Junction, Hanover and Gettysburg Railroad. Built in 1853 for a distance of twelve and a half miles, the railroad connected with the Northern Central. By 1865 the railroad had three locomotives: No. 1, Gettysburg; No. 2, Conewago; No. 3, Heidelberg. Later, others were No. 4, Hanover; No. 5, Alliance; No. 6 Six Wheeler. By 1886, the line had eleven engines. In September 1886 the Western Maryland absorbed the Hanover Junction, Hanover and Gettysburg Railroad. A round trip from Baltimore to Gettysburg totaled 142 miles.

Lincoln’s train was to meet with another coming south from Harrisburg with Pa. Governor Andrew Curtain and others. While at Hanover Junction, it was learned that the Governor’s special train had been delayed so they decided to go on to Gettysburg. George R. Prowell, late York County historian, told of the events at the Junction as follows:

“Mr. Lincoln knew that a few minutes would intervene before the engineer would put on the steam for Gettysburg. He stepped from the car and while gazing over the surrounding hills and valleys, Captain A.W. Eichelberger, of Hanover, the president of the railroad, engaged in conversations with him. On June 27, 1863, a battalion of four hundred Confederate Cavalry had been sent to Hanover Junction for the purpose of burning the railroad bridges. When this was accomplished and the telegraph wires torn down, communications between Washington and Harrisburg were cut off. The destruction of these bridges was well known to Mr. Lincoln, who asked Captain Eichelberger to relate to him all the local incidents which took place at Hanover Junction three days before the Battle of Gettysburg opened. He listened with the closest attention to everything that was said.

When the conductor, John Eckert, called ‘ All aboard,’ Mr. Lincoln remarked: ‘I reckon, Captain, we don’t want to be left behind.’ Both then got into the car.”

The late Clayton Hamme, a native of the Hanover Junction area, stated that his uncles remembered Lincoln’s passing through the Junction. They told him they remembered that engines were switched, and during this time, dispatches were handed to the President. Other recollections that they had were of the return trip to Washington, but it is known that the President was ill then.

The day before Lincoln made his journey Marshal Lamon and others went to Gettysburg to prepare for the celebration. They left Washington at 11 o’clock on November 17, and on the way to Hanover Junction a collection was taken for the prisoners at Richmond. The train was delayed at Hanover Junction for some time, because there was no available car to take them to Gettysburg.

(to be continued)

The Pennsylvania Historical Marker shown above in the 1973 photo was erected in 1953. Click here for more on the site and the marker.