Home | Mission & Goals | Meeting Schedule | Search | Contact Us | Submit A Story | Links

 The Civil War Along the Tom's Creek Region and Waynesboro Pike

The Struggle of Fountain Dale

John Miller

Six miles north of the Mason and Dixon Line is a little town called Fountain Dale. Fountain Dale is located between Jack’s Mountain, Beards Hill, and is connected to two major mountain gaps along the old Waynesboro Pike. Many locals tell me Fountain Dale received its name from an actual fountain that belonged to a man named Dale. There is a old church at Fountain Dale that bears the inscription of 1857 possibly the founding year of the town. With a only a few houses and stone fences there really isn't much to this small town.

Although being a small town today, Fountain Dale has a very fascinating Civil War Heritage. During the Gettysburg Campaign, both Union and Confederate soldiers scouted and picketed the area of Fountain Dale to observe the movements of troops that were coming from the direction of Emmitsburg, Fairfield and Waynesboro.

On June 27th, parts Pegrams Artillery Battalion had lost several horses by the time they encamped at Fayetteville. Because of the concerned state the horses were in, Lieutenant John Hampden Chamberlayne led a small detail soldiers from Purcell, Crenshaw, and Lecture’s Batteries and made their way through Franklin County toward Waynesboro. Private Thomas Goosey who traveled with Chamberlayne's small detachment noted "We pushed on and soon struck the village of Waynesboro, where United States flags were displayed in great numbers, which, of course, we greeted pleasantly."

From Waynesboro, Chamberlayne's men traveled up the mountain to Monterey traveling toward Fairfield in Adams County when they came across a small church at Fountain Dale on June 28th. This small church was built in 1857 and is located on Old Waynesboro Pike. It was Sunday as church services were underway; Ham Chamberlayne saw about 20 horses tied to a post and decided that these horses were what his battery needed.

Lieutenant Chamberlayne opened the church door and then brushed into the church with his pistol drawn and demanded that each person give up their horse and that they would be paid in full by means of a treaty between the Confederate States Government and the United States Government. Chamberlayne then walked back outside and untied the horses.

Chamberlayne's men started for their camp, when a detachment of General Buford's cavalry was spotted coming down Waynesboro Pike. This was a small squad of Cole’s Cavalry Company “C” under the command of Lt. William A. Horner.

During the Gettysburg Campaign Cole’s Cavalry separated and each company was to act as an independent organization. With permission from Captain Albert Hunter, Lt. Horner and his men went on scout. Seeing rebel horsemen near the church Lt. Horner, order his squad to intercept them.

It was at this time that Ham Chamberlayne asked his men who had revolvers to make a stand him, while the others made their escape.  After hand selecting only six men with revolvers loaded, Chamberlayne leading his men then charged at Horner’s men. A clash then erupted between these two forces. Private Goosey mentions the small detail fell back to its main party. After the charge, Chamberlayne and his six men were taken prisoner. The prisoners were Lieutenant John H. (Ham) Chamberlayne, Sergeant R. H. Malloy, Sergeant Alpheus Newman, Sergeant Hugh Davis Smith, and John Alexander Estes.

After the skirmish, Horner's Keystone Rangers retired with their prisoners to Emmitsburg. The other 19 men of the detail made it safely back to Fayetteville. Sometime after the Skirmish, local residents were encouraged to take inventory of their livestock and to report any missing animals to the local sheriff.

Oliver Horner who was a Sergeant during the engagement of Fountain Dale later recalled: “Fifteen of the Confederate Raiders were captured and the horses were recovered". Sergeant Horner was later promoted to Lieutenant for his actions during the battle of Fountain Dale.

After the battle of Fountain Dale, while scouting near Monterey, members of the 14th Virginia spotted a Federal patrol, believing they were militia. The Confederates tormented the New Yorker’s by luring the Federal body into a trap. However, the New Yorker’s did not pursue the Confederates. During the evening of June 28th the Federal cavalry under General John Buford came into Fountain Dale moving toward Fairfield, investigating the rebel forces in the area.

By June 29, 1863, General John Buford suspected a battle would soon erupt in south-central Pennsylvania. There he stood at the opening of Monterey Pass through South Mountain, and overlooking the Cumberland Valley.  There at Monterey, he saw the Confederate troops in Greencastle. That evening General Buford counter-marched back toward Fountain Dale, there on the highest point he looked down the valley toward Fairfield, and saw the campfires of those troops belonging to General Henry Heth's Division, who ordered a detachment of North Carolinians and Mississippians to guard the approaches from Emmitsburg by way of Fairfield. 

Although being a small town today, Fountain Dale just as many of these small towns that are along Waynesboro Pike impacted the Civil War in it’s own unique way. There still is a lot to be learned about the battle of Fountain Dale. The battlefield itself still remains intact but is in private ownership. The history of the Emmitsburg and Waynesboro vicinity is only a footnote in history. When asked about these events, visitors are surprised to see that not much information are in the town’s records about the movements of troops and the actions they fought so bravely in.

Read other articles by John Miller