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Emmitsburg: The Pivotal Crossroad
of the Civil War

John Allen Miller

Emmitsburg is a small community and it holds the same charm and appearance as it did in our town's past. Emmitsburg history tells us stories of Patriots joining General Washington's army to Francis Scott Key's house not far from town where he was born. We also have stories of the Civil War and how Emmitsburg served as a crossroad for the soldiers on both sides. Emmitsburg has raised some of our country's best military units ready to defend our country. Even though our history books forgot to mention Emmitsburg, we all can relate to the important role Emmitsburg has played for over two hundred years.

William Emmit founded the town of Emmitsburg in 1785
and through the years Emmitsburg grew to become recognized as a symbol of religion due to its many churches such as Saint Joseph College, and Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary School. After researching many aspects of the Civil War in the greater Emmitsburg area, I soon realized that the Emmitsburg area played a major role in the Civil War, more than what has been given credit. But why was Emmitsburg so important during the Civil War? Emmitsburg became a pivotal crossroad of the Civil War.

During the outbreak of the Civil War, many town residents mustered into the military fighting on both sides. As the Civil War progressed, Emmitsburg had split loyalties for the Union. Some men were faced with the harsh decision of state rights that included the issue of slavery. Those men who fought for the Southern Cause would become an outcast in their town's society as no records of any post war gathering took place. These men were viewed as traitors fighting for the inhuman traits of slavery. Most of these men that fought for the south would have been members of a Maryland Regiment in the Army of Northern Virginia. One of Francis Scott Key’s relatives by the name of John Franklin Key fought with Stuart’s Horse Artillery.

Cole’s Cavalry Company C
a federal unit is remembered the most in our town’s Civil War history. They were known as Horner’s Company, being named after it’s commander Captain John C. Horner. During the summer of 1862, Captain Horner retired from service and Captain Albert Hunter became the new commander. Most of the men in Horner’s Company of Cole's Cavalry were from Western Maryland and Southern Pennsylvania thus included the Emmitsburg area, the Taneytown area, and the Gettysburg area. Most of the men were farmers, planters, young, unmarried, accustomed in the use of firearms and had knowledge of riding. This was a talent that most cavalry companies were missing during the first two years of the war. Many of the recruits in Horner’s Company even brought their own horses. Their extensive knowledge of Western Maryland, and the topography of the Shenandoah Valley that runs through Pennsylvania deep into southern Virginia, served as a great asset to the Union cause.

The Chambersburg Raid of 1862

The Civil War first affected Emmitsburg during the 1862 Raid on Chambersburg. This was the first time Emmitsburg saw Confederate troops since the outbreak of war. Upon leaving Chambersburg on October 11,1862, the Federal cavalry, led by Colonel Rush, was pursuing the Confederate cavalry of General JEB Stuart. Colonel Rush had split his command leaving several units in Frederick, Maryland, which included Company C of Cole’s Cavalry under the command of Captain Albert Hunter, while his 6th Pennsylvania cavalry was scouting in the Emmitsburg area.
General Alfred Pleasonton who was also tracking for the Confederate Cavalry received false intelligence of General Stuart’s whereabouts. He thought that General Stuart was retracing his footsteps back toward the Potomac River in the direction in which he came. General Pleasanton started to pursue the Confederate cavalry at Knoxville, Maryland on October 10-11 in the direction that intelligence report stated. Soon afterwards, he was ordered to proceed toward Emmitsburg and Mechanicstown.

General Pleasonton lost two hours of valuable time that allowed General Stuart and his Confederate cavalry to slip by and head directly into Emmitsburg. Since leaving Chambersburg, General Stuart had already ridden over 31 miles and was approximately 45 miles from the Potomac River. At the same time, General George McClellan order General Stoneman, who was at Poolesville, Maryland to be on the lookout for General Pleasanton and try to intercept General Stuart at Emmitsburg or Mechanicstown.

On the evening, of October 11th, General Stuart made his way into Cashtown passing the taverns such as the Harding House Inn and the Cashtown Inn. At this time, General Stuart was about seven miles away from Gettysburg. Before he started to pull back toward Hagerstown, the Confederate cavalry realized that the Federal cavalry was pursuing them. General Stuart then took the old Fairfield Road and near sunset the five-mile long column reached the town of Emmitsburg. There, General JEB Stuart ordered his men to rest, and also feed and water their horses.
Just one hour before the Confederate arrival in Emmitsburg, 140 men of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry known as Colonel Rush’s Lancers had passed through Emmitsburg and headed toward Gettysburg. Members of General Stuart’s advance guard charged the through Emmitsburg chasing after the stragglers of the four companies of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry.

The town of Emmitsburg hailed the Confederate troopers as the townsmen opened their arms to the Confederate cavalry. Many people of Emmitsburg applauded very loudly as the Confederate Cavalry entered the town. There they received fresh bread, buttermilk, and meat and the town itself was being very supportive to those dressed in gray. Never before had townsfolk actually seen a Confederate and they were curious to hear the tales they had to tell. The Confederates were observed as being very polite to the residents of Emmitsburg. Major Henry B. McClellan observed General Stuart enjoying the hospitality among the local citizens of Emmitsburg. Friendly citizens also greeted members of Stuart’s Horse Artillery, as they paused long enough to feed and water their horses.

At this time, General Stuart ordered pickets to set up along the roads leading into Emmitsburg. A courier was captured as Federal cavalry was catching up to the rear of the Confederate cavalry. General Stuart then learned that Colonel Rush, and also General Alfred Pleasonton and some 800 members of his cavalry were pursuing him and were riding from Hagerstown toward Mechanicstown. The courier was then blind folded and released to fool Colonel Rush. General JEB Stuart attended to his horse and stood up against a tree for about a half an hour before moving out. Then the order was given to mount up. Fearing that General George B. McClellan knew his location, General Stuart left Emmitsburg shortly after sun down headed for Virginia. Only a few stragglers stayed behind in Emmitsburg. Some reports state that Colonel Rush caught a few of these stragglers.

On the road toward Frederick, General Stuart accompanied Southhall, who commanded the advance guard, before leaving him, General Stuart ordered him to keep up the fast gait and ride over any opposing parties. Soon after, another courier was captured carrying dispatches from Frederick to Colonel Rush’s Lancers. From this information General Stuart learned that even though the enemy was trying to intercept him, they still had no idea of his location or movements. He also learned that Colonel Rush had enough men in Frederick to protect the city, even though four companies of his Lancers were headed for Gettysburg.

The dispatches also stated that 800 men under the command of General Pleasonton was hurrying to Mechanicstown, just four miles from Stuart’s position and also that the railroad crossing of the Monocacy was occupied by two brigades of infantry, ready at a moments notice to steam the railcar engines and deploy them in either direction.

With this new found information, General Stuart ordered the column to turn east at Rocky Ridge, Maryland and travel toward the Woodsboro Road two miles away. At around 9 P.M., the advance guard reached Rocky Ridge; they met a scouting party of General Pleasonton’s Federal Cavalry, which turned immediately toward Mechanicstown. A half past 10 P.M. a company of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry observed the march of General Stuart’s column through Woodsboro. This information of General Stuart’s location was dispatched to Colonel Rush and to General Pleasonton only few miles away at Mechanicstown. Even though this information only had to go from Rocky Ridge to Mechanicstown, a mere four miles away it took more than three hours to relay. In the meantime General Stuart continued his march toward the Potomac River.

By daylight of October 12, General Stuart’s advance guard entered Hyattstown, over 33 miles from Emmitsburg. General Stuart along with his men and artillery had traveled an amazing 65 miles within 20 hours. By this time members of Cole's cavalry caught up with the rear of Confederate cavalry. A skirmish developed and seven Confederate troopers were captured.

The Federal cavalry had been given several opportunities to attack General Stuart’s cavalry at Emmitsburg and Rocky Ridge. With false intelligence, missed opportunities, and the slowness of the Federal couriers that carried these dispatches they had unintentionally allowed General Stuart more time to get further away.

The Gettysburg Campaign

During the Gettysburg Campaign of 1863, Emmitsburg witnessed several cavalry engagements. Skirmishes developed in and outside of Emmitsburg at Fountain Dale, Monterey Pass, Fairfield, the Emmitsburg Road, Emmitsburg Station (south of Emmitsburg), and also at the Farmer’s Inn (west of Emmitsburg). As part of the Pipe Creek Defensive Line, the Western Wing of the Army of the Potomac came into Emmitsburg on June 29th and stayed through July 2nd. Several military regiments encamped in Emmitsburg and stationed their supplies there during the battle of Gettysburg.

As the Confederate Army retreated, Emmitsburg became a detour on July 5th, for General Stuart as he made his way back to General Lee's army. On July 7th, General Meade traveled through Emmitsburg on his way to Frederick and was hailed by the town residents. More than half of the Army of the Potomac traveled through Emmitsburg on their way to and from the battlefields of Gettysburg.
The effects of the Gettysburg Campaign started on June 15 around eleven o' clock on a Monday night, when a major fire had started in the town of Emmitsburg at the loft of the Beam and Guthrie Stable. The fire had spread eastward up along Main Street, involving the northeast, northwest and southeast blocks around the old water hole More than fifty homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed. Some speculation and rumors stated that it was set on fire by parts of the Confederate Army or by some southern sympathizers. Civilians in Gettysburg were looking southward and saw the orange glow in the sky. Fearing the worst was coming their way; this was surely a sign of what was to come.

On June 22nd a skirmish erupted along a mountain pass called Monterey near present day Blue Ridge Summit, seven miles north of Emmitsburg. A detachment of Confederates under General Albert Jenkins ran into an armed civilian militia. After several minutes of fighting, the civilians were forced to retire. Later that day General Jenkins withdrew toward Hagerstown and joined General Richard S. Ewell, who was advancing on the soil of Pennsylvania in force.

On Saturday June 27th, two brigades of Michigan cavalry from General Kilpatrick’s division encamped just south of Emmitsburg on the old tollgate, before heading toward Hanover on the following Monday. A young, dashing general came riding into Emmitsburg, dressed in black velvet with a red scarf around his neck. This young man was General George Armstrong Custer. He was only 24 when he was promoted to Brigadier General in Frederick only a few days prior. A local resident by the name of Jim McCullough guided this force around the area.

As the Confederate troops marched toward Gettysburg, skirmishes developed on June 28 near Emmitsburg in a little Pennsylvania town called Fountain Dale. A portion of Cole’s Maryland Cavalry was under the command of Lt. William A. Horner and Sgt. 0liver A. Horner of Co. C. The small squad came upon a scouting detail under Lt. Chamberlayne of Crenshaw's Battery with 20 stolen horses in their possession. 6 of the 25 Confederates were captured. Sergeant Oliver Horner was later promoted to Lieutenant and then to Brevet Major.

After the skirmish, Cole's cavalry retired toward the direction of Emmitsburg. While scouting near Monterey, members of the 14th Virginia spotted a Federal patrol, believing they were a militia. The Confederates tormented the New Yorker’s by luring the Federal body into a trap. To the Confederate disappointment, the New Yorker’s did not pursue them.

On June 29th, after the skirmish at Fountain Dale, the Federal cavalry under John Buford moved toward Fairfield, Pennsylvania investigating the Confederate forces in the area. As General John Buford stood at the opening of Monterey Pass through South Mountain, overlooking the Cumberland Valley, he saw the dust in the background toward the mountains in the Greencastle area. At this time it was evident to General Buford that a major battle would soon erupt in south-central Pennsylvania.

As Emmitsburg started to see skirmishes on June 28th at Fountaindale and on June 29th at Fairfield, General Meade received dispatches from General Buford telling him that the Confederates were in Chambersburg, Cashtown, and also Fairfield heading south-southeast. After receiving this information General Reynolds was ordered to move the First Corp to Emmitsburg, followed by the XI Corp under the command of General Howard. As the western wing expanded further westward, General Meade relocated his headquarters to the Shunk Farm outside of Taneytown. The Shunk Farm, sits along Route 194 north of Taneytown, he stayed there from June 30th until the evening of July 1st.

As General Lee was maneuvering his forces, the Emmitsburg-Taneytown area found themselves between the two armies. When Lee’s main force reached Chambersburg, he retained one corps there, and sent two others eastward through Gettysburg toward York and then onto Harrisburg. Later, when he learned of the approach of the Union Army from the south, General Lee concentrated them from the north, making Gettysburg a geographical contest. In this description of the battle of Gettysburg, the Emmitsburg vicinity is roughly clarified as being boundaried on the north by Greenmount, or Marsh Creek; on the east by Bridgeport; on the west by Zora and Fountain Dale, and on the south by Mechanicstown as the Union Army was preparing for a clash.

On June 30th, seven miles north of Emmitsburg, the Confederates skirmished with parts of Buford's Union cavalry at Fairfield. This skirmish did not last long, as the patrols broke off the engagement with the Confederates and General Buford retreated not wanting a major contest to begin. From there General Buford entered Emmitsburg around nine o'clock in the morning.

The Union forces, tired from a day's march from Frederick and Middletown, Maryland, set camp in Emmitsburg. The soldiers' campsite covered the grounds of the present day National Fire Academy and reached almost to what is now the Post Office. The town’s residents welcomed the men in blue. After seeing the damage done by the fire on June 15th, the men in blue thought that the rebel army had torched the town. They soon found out that it was actually a stable fire that caused three sections of the town's square to burn down. The rebels were finally cleared of this false accusation.

It was at this time that Emmitsburg became the supply base for the Union Army. Major General John Reynolds, commander of the left wing of the Union Army consisting of the First, Third, and the Eleventh Corp, was moving toward Emmitsburg. Parts of the First and Eleventh Corps came through Emmitsburg during the day. The First Corp came into Emmitsburg to obtain supplies that the army needed, such as fresh milk, bread, pies, and cakes. There, the First Corp set camp at the present day Post Office and mustered to receive their pay. A small disturbance broke out when soldiers of the 76th New York were told to wait until the next day to receive their pay.

At the Southern end of town, toward Mount Saint Mary's College, the Eleventh Corp, under the command of General Oliver O' Howard, made their way into Emmitsburg. General Howard made his headquarters at Mount Saint Mary's Seminary. During the early evening hours General Reynolds decided to break camp and move the First Corp to Marsh Creek, which is located about five miles north of Emmitsburg. Just across the Mason Dixon line, General Reynolds made his headquarters at the Moritz Tavern and positioned the first corps at Marsh Creek on the evening of June 30. A battery of artillery was held in Emmitsburg as reserves on the heights toward Mechanicstown.

A soldier and later historian of the Twelfth Massachusetts Volunteers recorded a story about a young boy from Emmitsburg, Maryland. Later in life he wrote: “An instance of the bravery of a 15 year old Emmitsburg lad named J. W. (C.F.) Wheatley, as Baxter’s brigade was marching through Emmetsburg it was followed by the village boys, one of whom continued to the camp at Marsh Creek, where he offered to enlist. His offer, however, was ridiculed, and he was sent away. On the morning of the 1st of July he reappeared, and so earnestly entreated the colonel of the Twelfth Massachusetts to be allowed to join his regiment, that a captain of one of the companies (Company A) was instructed to take him on trial for a day or two. When the regiment halted near the seminary, the boy was hastily dressed in a suit of blue. Afterwards, during the action, he fought bravely until a bullet striking his musket split it in two pieces, one of which lodged in his left hand and the other in his left thigh. The boy was taken to the brick church in the town to be cared for, but nothing was afterwards seen or heard of him until July 4th. I saw him for the last time bitterly crying for his mother and sundry of other relatives. He was never muster into the service, and therefore fought as a civilian."

As soon as General Reynolds set up his headquarters, he received a message from General Buford stating that the rebel forces were now at Cashtown, advancing towards Gettysburg. General Reynolds forwarded the message to General Howard as well as to General Meade, whose headquarters were at Taneytown, just east of Emmitsburg. General Howard was instructed to position his men to Reynolds' left in case the Confederates happened to come from the direction of Fairfield. By this time it seemed that the Confederates were moving towards Emmitsburg.

During the evening, General Howard rode out to see General Reynolds at the Moritz Tavern. There they ate dinner and looked over maps. General Reynolds wrote a dispatch to General Meade telling him about the movements of the Confederate army. With that dispatch, General Reynolds also sent a message to General Meade that in case of a Confederate break-through, a defensive plan was required. General Reynolds wrote that a position north of Emmitsburg was a good place to make a stand. If they were to fight a defensive battle in this vicinity, north of Emmitsburg, the Confederate force would undoubtedly turn the western wing by way of Fairfield. After sending out the message to General Meade, the commander made his way to bed. On the ride back to Mount Saint Mary's, General Howard thought that General Reynolds seemed distracted. Perhaps the General was thinking about his love, Catherine Hewitt, or maybe he somehow knew the coming of day would be his last on earth.

General Reynolds met Katherine Hewitt in California in 1860. There they fell in love with one another. General Reynolds was then transferred to West Point. Miss Hewitt traveled back east with General Reynolds, while there she attended school in Pennsylvania at Sacred Heart Academy near Torresdale. General Reynolds and 'Kate,' as he called her secretly, planned to marry, however the marriage was postponed by the start of the war. They decided instead to get married after the war had ended, as so many others planned to do. Katherine Hewitt tried to keep their love affair private until the end of the war. When she asked to view the General's body, she told the members of his family that they met in California. A grieving Katherine Hewitt entered a convent in Emmitsburg, and kept in touch with the family of General John Reynolds. Ms. Hewitt stayed in Emmitsburg until 1868 when she vanished.

On July 1st General Sickles Third Corps marched from Bridgeport, Maryland through Emmitsburg heading to Gettysburg between two and three o'clock that afternoon. Emmitsburg was now holding troops in reserve for the western wing of the Army of the Potomac. The town of Emmitsburg was crucial to the war efforts. General Meade sent a dispatch to General Sickles and told him to hold Emmitsburg in case of a break through which would have Emmitsburg acting as a roadblock. General Sickles was subsequently ordered to leave Emmitsburg to rejoin the Army of the Potomac that was already heavily engaged at Gettysburg. One reason that General Meade ordered Sickles to leave Emmitsburg was due to so many Union troops being engaged at Gettysburg and it would be too risky to hold Emmitsburg as part of a plan that didn't involve a retreat. When another order came from General Meade to confirm the original order to stay at Emmitsburg, General Sickles disregarded it and moved on toward Gettysburg.

On July 2nd, more Federal soldiers came into Emmitsburg. These soldiers were the Army of the Potomac's U.S. Cavalry under the command of General Wesley Merrit. After being ordered to guard the mountain passes at South Mountain, General Merrit and his regulators were ordered to Mechanicstown, Maryland on June 29th. This left the U.S. Cavalry to guard and to protect the roadways and communication lines in the vicinity of Mechanicstown. A dispatch came on July 2nd to move forward with the wagon train toward Emmitsburg, Maryland. With these orders General Merrit came into Emmitsburg and set up camp. Then the orders came for, General Merrit to report to the battlefield on July 3rd. At a half hour past midnight, the 6th U.S. Cavalry under Major Samuel Starr moved out of Emmitsburg and headed toward Gettysburg. Their mission was to attack the Confederate's right flank.

The Emmitsburg Chronicle printed an article in 1951 that gives sharp description of Emmitsburg as seen by Union troops; “Small flags waved and dipped from the tower of the old Lutheran Church, used as a signal station by the army. Bearers of dispatches and squads of cavalry dashed madly through the town. The long roll of drums and the blood-stirring bugle calls filled the air; the fields were alive with soldiers. To the untrained eye it looked like a great mob, but it was not a mob in any sense, for in a very short time the men fell into orderly lines and in full marching swing, pressed forward across the fields toward Gettysburg, towards victory and also many of them-toward death. When the army began to arrive in town, the first thing the soldiers asked for was fresh bread. Nearly every house in the town was turned into a bakery and every woman who could bake was busy day and night, kneading bread while the soldiers needed more. The old-fashioned loaf was about three times bigger than the present baker's loaf. It was interesting to see a soldier, with a loaf under each arm, meet a squad of comrades. He would at once break the bread and hand it around. It would vanish quicker than the morning dew. No doubt it tasted to the poor fellows like the bread mother used to bake at home. The mother and the home that many a brave boy never saw again. The soldiers were well-disciplined and consequently well-behaved men and there was very little trouble between them and the people of town or country. From here there were three brothers, one in the Union and two in Confederate Armies. But the dreadful fraternal strife has passed away and peace, like a river, flows through the land, may it flow forever.”

After the battle of Gettysburg both Union and Confederate troops came through Emmitsburg, confiscating what little it had left. The roads were being torn apart by wagons, horse drawn artillery, and soldiers who marched through the town during a rainstorm. Roads around and in town were flooded with Federals pursuing the Rebels as they marched home to Virginia. The Confederates that came into Emmitsburg had no way of paying for the personal supplies that they received from the town. This was due to the fact that Confederate money did not hold the value of green backs or gold. The citizens of Emmitsburg couldn’t make a profit no matter how hard they had tried just like other small towns that had been ransacked by the war. As the Army of Northern Virginia retreated some of its companies came through Emmitsburg and settled in for the night by Tom’s Creek near the present day U.S. Post Office.

On Sunday, July 4th, Confederate cavalry under the command of General Albert Jenkins came into Emmitsburg. General Jenkins was patrolling around the wagon train that was in Fairfield at the time when he came into Emmitsburg. In his History of Emmitsburg,
James Helman mentioned a story about the Confederate Cavalry under General Jenkins when he came into Emmitsburg; “While watering their horses, residents who were curious of the outcome of the battle of Gettysburg asked the troopers who won, their reply was that the Confederates had won. The Confederate riders also became paranoid by some of this hamlet’s residents. On one occasion some rebels detected two gentlemen watching every move they had made, when suddenly the rebels raised their pistols. These rebels thought that the gentlemen were Union spies or were part of the signal corp. Once the two gentlemen explained that they were villagers of the town and were curious as to what all the bedlam was about, the rebels placed their guns back into their holsters.”

A lady in Emmitsburg who was born in 1920’s told me stories about her family life in Emmitsburg during the Civil War as told by her grandmother. “Farms in the area were also being raided for their horses. On one occasion, Confederate soldiers halted by a local mill and were in the process of taking the mill horses when the miller became aware of what was happening and ran outside and yelled "You can’t take my horses, I need them for my work." The soldiers told the miller that they needed them badly to get back home, and if they could use them to get to Hagerstown and across the Potomac the miller could have them back. So the miller went with the troopers and brought the horses back to his mill several days later.” Soon the rebel cavalry left Emmitsburg to rejoin General Jones up at Jack’s Mountain. Many stories such as these exist and after checking many official reports, they may be true.

On that same day General Kilpatrick’s men came riding into Emmitsburg at a full charge, hoping to find the parts of the Confederate cavalry in town. They were soon disappointed, for there were no rebels to be found. When General Kilpatrick arrived in town the Union cavalry proceeded to rest for a bit and get something to eat. The town had given away all the tobacco and most of the bread. Most of the medical supplies that the town had were being used to treat men who were wounded. Once General Kilpatrick learned of the movement of the Confederate cavalry only five miles away at Monterey Pass, the Union cavalry left Emmitsburg around twelve in the morning began to pursue the Confederate wagon train.

On July 5th, General Stuart came through the town of Emmitsburg during the dawn hours; here he learned that a large Union cavalry under the command of General Kilpatrick had just left the town only hours before his arrival. The Union cavalry was headed toward the rebel wagon train on Jack’s Mountain. General Stuart reported his movements:

"In the order of march (retrograde) one corps (Hill's) preceded everything through the mountain; the baggage and prisoners of war were escorted by another corps. Longstreet occupied the center, and the 3rd (Ewell's) brought up the rear. The cavalry was disposed as follows: two brigades on the Cashtown road, under General Fitz Lee; and the remainder, Jenkins' and Chambliss', under my immediate command, was directed to proceed by way of Emmitsburg, Md., so as to guard the other flank.

I dispatched Captain W. W. Blackford, of the engineer corps, to General Robertson, to inform him of my movement and direct his cooperation, as Emmitsburg was in his immediate front and was probably occupied by the enemy's cavalry. It was dark before I had passed the extreme right of our line, and having to pass through very dense woods, taking by-roads, it soon became so dark that it was impossible to proceed. We were in danger of losing the command as well as the road. It was raining, also. We halted several hours, when, having received a good guide, and it becoming lighter, the march was resumed, and just at dawn we entered Emmitsburg.

We there (Emmitsburg) learned that a large body of the enemy's cavalry had passed through that point the afternoon previous, going toward Monterey, one of the passes designated in my instructions to Brigadier General Robertson. I halted for a short time to procure some rations, and, examining my map, I saw that this force would either attempt to force one of the gaps, or, foiled in that (as I supposed they would be), it would either turn to the right and bear off toward Fairfield, where it would meet with a like repulse from Hill's or Longstreet's corps, or, turning to the left before reaching Monterey, would strike across by Oeiler's Gap toward Hagerstown, and thus seriously threaten that portion of our trains which, under Imboden, would be passing down the Greencastle pike the next day, and interpose itself between the main body and its baggage.

In and around Emmitsburg we captured 60 or 70 prisoners of' war, and some valuable hospital stores en route from Frederick to the army. I was told by a citizen that the party I had just attacked was the cavalry of Kilpatrick, who had claimed to have captured several thousand prisoners and four or five hundred wagons from our forces near Monterey; but I was further informed that not more than forty wagons accompanied them, and other facts I heard led me to believe the success was far overrated. About this time Captain Emack, of the Maryland Cavalry, with his arm in a sling, came to us and reported that he had been in the fight of the night before, and partially confirmed the statement of the citizen, and informed me, to my surprise, that a large portion of Ewell's corps trains had preceded the army through the mountains."

Another report of this action comes from Brig. General R. L. T. Beale of the 9th Virginia Cavalry. He later wrote in his book:

“On the morning of July 4th we moved to the right of our army, passing along in front of the infantry line, who appeared defiant and undaunted. Nothing betokened that we had suffered any reverse until we reached Pickett's division. Here we learned the extent of our loss on the day previous, and the certainty was disclosed of a disagreeable and fatiguing retreat before us. We next came to a great camp of prisoners of war, and barely cleared the infantry lines by dark. The night set in rainy and very dark. After halting in the road some time, we moved slowly, and arrived at Emmitsburg about light next morning (July 5). A few prisoners, ambulances, and sutlers' stores fell into our hands. We left the main 'pike leading from Emmitsburg before noon, and, filing off to the right, followed a narrow road which penetrated the Catoctin mountains along a ravine, having on either side precipitous bluffs and spurs.”

General Stuart also learned that the route he wanted to take to get back to General Lee was in the same direction that the battle of Monterey Pass had occurred when General Kilpatrick left Emmitsburg. Another detour was needed. While in Emmitsburg, General Stuart managed to get the medical supplies that the rebels needed from the convents in Emmitsburg. Once General Stuart got the required supplies needed, they left traveling down Old Frederick Road toward Mechanicstown. This led him and his men to the town of Cooperstown, (Creagarstown as its known today). Shortly before traveling into Cooperstown, the Confederate Cavalry divided the column and some came into the town of Graceham. They eventually met up in Mechanicstown. Once in Mechanicstown, Stuart learned that General Merrit’s U.S. cavalry occupied Harman’s Pass. The Confederate cavalry left Mechanicstown, and started for Emmitsburg.

As General Stuart came back toward Emmitsburg on the afternoon of July 5th, skirmishes developed when he tried to get over the Catoctin Mountain (present day College Mountain.) General Stuart did however manage to check his counter parts and force them back into Emmitsburg. In a report by General Custer’s he stated: “The 1st and 6th Ohio Cavalry also fought next to the Michigan boys at the battle of Monterey Gap, until they were ordered to Emmitsburg on the morning of July 5, where they skirmished with General Stuarts Cavalry in the afternoon.”
Around this time three photographers named, Alexander Gardner, Timothy O'Sullivan, and James Gibson passed through Emmitsburg and were the first to witness the carnage of what was the aftermath of Gettysburg. Gardner stayed at the Farmers Inn and Motel at Emmitsburg before his voyage to Gettysburg on July 4-5th. As General Stuart came into Emmitsburg on the dawn hours of July 5th, Gardner was captured and detained at the Farmers Inn and was not released until General Stuart was ready to move out.

On July 7th, Gardner and his crew came back into Emmitsburg on their way to Washington. While in Emmitsburg, the photography crew produced seven negatives of different scenes in Emmitsburg. One is a picture of the Farmers Inn and another is the town itself that shows the damage done by the fire that occurred on June 15. Their work on the Gettysburg battlefield and also those taken in Emmitsburg would become some of the most famous photographs that future generations would marvel upon.

Another forgotten aspect of the Gettysburg Campaign in Emmitsburg is about the signal corps operations that took place at Indian Lookout. A letter printed on March 25, 1976 in the Emmitsburg Chronicle by a gentlemen only known as A.J.B. wrote about the Battle of Gettysburg as seen from Indian Lookout directly behind Emmitsburg. A.J.B. wrote:

 “I should spare some of that talk for describing the battle of Gettysburg as seen by us from Indian Lookout. Occasionally we see a few troopers pass by, but this no longer attracts any attention, except on one occasion when Stuart’s Confederate Cavalry passed. Truly we are at that place (Indian Lookout) almost the whole time during the three days battle. We had plenty of glasses viz telescopes, spy, and opera glasses. We had a clear view of the field and could see so as to make the men in their lines, attending cannon, the cannon themselves, making charges, officers riding along about their lines, and in a word the whole scene was spread out to our view. We could distinctly observe the changes in the position of the armies: sometimes one army would slowly give way, but seeming to dispute every inch of ground with as much energy and determination as if the fate of the Nation depended on its holding or yielding its position again rallying and driving the foe headlong before it for some distance. When the retreating body either reinforced some fresh troops or perhaps reinforced with courage, the battle would become terrific.”

In a report to General Solcum a signal corps officer wrote:

 “During the late movements of the army, 3 signal officers and 6 flagmen were captured by the enemy. The only reported injuries were those of 2 flagmen slightly wounded at the battle of Gettysburg. The capture of Captain B. F. Fisher, chief acting signal officer, has been previously mentioned. Captain C. S. Kendall and Lieutenant L. R. Fortescue, acting signal officers, were taken at Emmitsburg, where they had been on station, by Stuart's cavalry upon their retreat from Gettysburg, July 5.

Emmitsburg saw Union troops for the several days. The I, VI, and the XI Corps marched through Emmitsburg on July 6th. Members of the I Corp found other members of the VI Corp resting after their march from Fairfield. Emmitsburg was now hosting the Union troops and opened their stores to them. A drummer boy named Bardeen purchased a fair amount of green peas at a price of ten cents at Emmitsburg’s General Store that is located across the street from the Farmers Inn (present day Emmit House).

Emmitsburg became a landmark for those in blue since other roads in poor condition could not handle the huge army. Poor conditions and detours caused the armies to split up their columns in pursuit of General Lee. On July 7th, General Meade himself came to Emmitsburg and was received with much enthusiasm. Many of the townspeople thanked the General for all he did in protecting the town from the Confederates. Members of the Fifth Corps came through Emmitsburg on their way to Utica, as they were last of the Federal soldiers who were passing through Emmitsburg.

Emmitsburg was able to reassemble the homes and businesses that were destroyed by the Great Fire of 1863, however the shortages of livestock and produce made it even harder for the town folks to get through the winter. The military left Emmitsburg to account for itself from the severity of the Gettysburg Campaign. By spring the pastures were being cultivated with produce and the imprints that were left by the armies were utilized and leveled. As for the towns people their lives would manage to get back to normal by harvest time. Those recollections left of the carnage of battle, would still hold its terror in the hearts of those who experienced the reality of the struggle of Emmitsburg during the Gettysburg Campaign.

General Early’s Raid of 1864

For a year Emmitsburg’s community was quiet and the effects of the Gettysburg Campaign had gone. The families of Emmitsburg's surrounding area had resumed in leading a normal life, and by 1864 the Civil War was at the gates of Richmond and no threat of the war was in sight until summer. The summer Campaign of 1864 was known as Early’s Raid, and caused a lot of commotion in Northern Frederick County where Emmitsburg is located.

To relieve the pressure off of General Lee’s thin stretched line, he requested that General Early take 18,000 men north to liberate Lynchburg, clear the Federals from the Shenandoah Valley, cross the Potomac River, and split his force into two columns. The first column would create havoc near Washington’s defenseless chain of forts, while the second column tried to free the prisoners of Confederates held at Point Lookout, Maryland. Unfortunately the plan was not carried out as successful as General Lee had hoped.

Confederate General Jubal Early traveled up the Shenandoah Valley and entered Maryland at Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Splitting the Confederate Army into two columns the cavalry proceeded to Hagerstown with the demands of $20,000 ransom. If the demands were not met, the officer in charge had orders to torch Hagerstown. The town officials came up with $20,000 dollars worth of medical supplies, food, and clothing so the town was spared. While the cavalry was at Hagerstown, Early’s Confederate Army sidestepped the Federal garrison at Harpers Ferry and crossed the Potomac River at near Shepherdstown into Maryland on July 5-6.

Communities all over Frederick County, Maryland were eager to hear about the news of the Confederates. Not knowing the reason why the Confederates were in Frederick County, troops of the of the Union army were sent to Emmitsburg in case the Confederate Army advancing in force to Baltimore by way of Pennsylvania. Once the Confederates engaged at Monocacy on July 9th, it was clear that Washington was their target. The citizens of Emmitsburg could now rest easy thinking that the threat of Confederates entering the town was over.

By late July, General Early again ordered his Army North, splitting it into two columns. The first column under the command of General John McCausland was sent forth to Chambersburg, PA, while the second column under Early himself set forth to Moorefield West Virgina.  Emmitsburg saw more Union troops entering the town as operations continued. The citizens must have wondered what was going on. Not realizing another threat was inevitable in Pennsylvania, the towns’ people pondered at the Union Cavalry. The terror of war was approaching and nobody knew what the targets or the reason why a Confederate force under the command of General McCausland was approaching in the direction of Chambersburg. As General Early’s operations against the B&O Railroad continued, Chambersburg was invaded by Confederate troops in late July.

On July 28, an unusual order arrived for General McCausland. General Early had enough of the new Federal policy of destruction. Later McCausland wrote:

"My men had just dismounted and were making camp and getting ready to eat what rations they could find. I was sitting there on my horse talking to Nick Fitzhugh, my adjutant, when a courier handed me a dispatch from Early. I opened it up and when I read those first lines I nearly fell out of the saddle. He ordered me in a very few words to make a retaliatory raid and give the Yankees a taste of their own medicine."

During the Chambersburg raid, the small contingent of Union Cavalry guarding the area around Emmitsburg was driven into Emmitsburg by superior numbers of Confederate forces and was, for a time, in danger of being cut off. Emmitsburg saw no more soldiers in combat until after the burning of Chambersburg in l864, a side effect of Early’s invasion. Confederate troopers skirmished with Federal Troops on July 30th west of Emmitsburg. However, the Union Cavalry held about a mile from the town and Emmitsburg was spared the destruction of war

This is a report of Major General Darius N. Couch, U. S. Army who was commanding the Department of the Susquehanna in Harrisburg, Pa., August 8, 1864. He writes:


GENERAL: I have the honor to report that on the 27th ultimo, Brigadier-General Averell, of the Department of West Virginia, with his force lay at Hagerstown, Md., covering the several fords of the Potomac in that Vicinity. At his request I sent him my mounted men, consisting of two companies of 100-days' men, retaining under my orders and within the department Lieut. H. T. McLean's party of forty cavalry from Carlisle Barracks, that covered the roads leading toward Mercersburg, and Capt. R. M. Evans' company of Independent Philadelphia Scouts, an unpaid force that watched in the vicinity of Emmitsburg. At Chambersburg there was part of an infantry company, under Capt. T. S. McGowan, and a piece of field artillery.”

During this raid, Capt. R. M. Evans, commanding Pennsylvania cavalry, wrote:

"My pickets were driven in at Emmitsburg this afternoon July 30 about one mile from the town by about 200 rebels. I was in danger of being cut off with my command, as there are a great many by-roads running down from the mountains.”

After burning Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, on July 30, Generals Johnson and McCausland’s cavalry rode toward Cumberland, Maryland, to disrupt the B&O Railroad. The Confederates destroyed the vital bridges along the B&O Railroad at Flocks Mill near Cumberland. General Benjamin Kelly organized a small force of soldiers and citizens to meet the Confederate advance. On August 1, Kelly ambushed the Rebel cavalrymen near Cumberland at Flock’s Mill, and skirmishing continued for several hours. Eventually the Confederates withdrew and the last major battle of the Civil War in the state of Maryland was finally over. Confederates troops also engaged Union troops at Flintstone Creek on August 1.

While Emmitsburg's luck held out, there were still many families in the valley who lost fathers, sons, brothers, and husbands. Samuel Maxell, a staunch abolitionist and owner of the mill located just upstream of Four Points Bridge, lost his son on July 5, 1864 during the battle at Piedmont. Samuel was a passionate advocate of the Union and was very influential in changing the sentiments of the local population with regard to slavery.

In 1862, Samuel sons Samuel Jr. and Thaddeus joined Cole's Cavalry Company C. Cole's Cavalry was like most units of that time, consisting of brothers and friends who had enlisted together to fight. Following the battle of Gettysburg, Cole's Cavalry joined in the Union attack down the Shenandoah Valley, often fighting the Confederate forces of Colonel John S. Mosby. During their advanced to Piedmont, Virginia, they collided with a Confederate Army under the command of Jubal Early.

While charging a breastwork, Thaddeus Maxell was fatally shot by a Confederate sharpshooter. Samuel Jr. accompanied his brother's body home where Emmitsburg witnessed his burial at the Lutheran church where his father served as both a deacon and an elder. Following his brother's funeral, Samuel returned to his unit and played a key role in the Battle of the Monocacy.

The Maxwell brothers represented just one of the Emmitsburg families who contributed and fought valiantly in the Civil War. The history of Emmitsburg and our community is rich with stories of everyday sacrifice and valor.

Cole's Cavalry was mustered out of service on June 28, 1865 at Harper's Ferry. The cavalry command then rode to Baltimore to be formally discharged. The operations of Cole’s Cavalry were amongst the most heroic and impressive of any organization in the Eastern Theater of the Civil War. It is estimated that the command rode over 7000 miles during its four years of military service. The men themselves stuck together as a fraternity long after the war. As late as 1892 they were holding reunions at the local Grand Army of the Republic headquarters, banqueting at the old Western Maryland Hotel, and holding "campfires" where they relived their old days in the field and camp.

Read other articles on Emmitsburg in the Civil War by John Miller