Emmitsburg Civil War Tour
William Emmit founded the town of
Emmitsburg in 1785. Today, Emmitsburg’s history tells us stories of
patriots joining General George Washington's army and of Francis Scott
Key's childhood home not far from the town where he was born. During
the American Civil War, Emmitsburg witnessed every raid that carried
over into Pennsylvania from JEB Stuarts’ first Chambersburg Raid of
1862, the Pennsylvania Campaign in the summer of 1863 and finally,
General Early’s Raids in July of 1864. Many men from Emmitsburg fought
in the Civil War. Many Confederate soldiers from Emmitsburg fought in
the Army of Northern Virginia; however, Charles A. Donnelly was the
first to enlist from the Emmitsburg area. Charles A. Donnelly enlisted
into the Confederate Army at the age of 24 on April 6, 1861, in Lucas'
Battalion of Infantry at Castle Pinckney, which is located in the
Charleston Harbor of South Carolina. Most of the Emmitsburg men who
fought for the Union were recruited and enlisted into Company “C” of
the 1st Potomac Home Brigade, Cole’s Cavalry. Company C, known as the
Keystone Rangers was mustered into service at Frederick, Maryland on
September 9, 1861.
Starting Point: Mount Saint Mary's University
Found in 1808, Mount Saint Mary’s did not escape the divided
loyalties at the outbreak of the American Civil War. It had a good
many Southern students who had proclaimed their allegiance to the
newly formed Confederate States of American. Dr. John McCaffrey was
the College’s President and a strong supporter of the Confederate
was the College’s Vice-President and a strong supporter of the
Union. Although a Union man, he still placed the practices of Mount
Saint Mary’s first and treated every southern student with respect.
John McCaffrey and John McCloskey didn’t allow their beliefs get in
the way of their friendship or College matters.
Daniel Beltzhoover, a professor of mathematics, was an 1847 graduate
of West Point and served in the wars in Florida and also Mexico.
Before the Civil War, he commanded a company of Zouave Mountain
Cadets and drilled them thoroughly. He entered the Confederate Army
and was commissioned in the 1st Louisiana Heavy Artillery Regiment.
He became a Lt. Colonel and a school teacher at Mobile, Alabama by
highest point in the Emmitsburg area, Indian Lookout became a
landmark. This area situated near Mount Saint Mary's College held
the most spectacular view of the battle of Gettysburg.
The Mountain Cemetery at the entrance to the Grotto is
the final resting place for many Civil War veterans including Daniel
Beltzhoover. A trail leading to Indian Lookout is also on the grounds
of the Grotto.
Stop One: The Toll Gate
During the afternoon of June 27th,
1863 a portion of General George Armstrong Custer’s Brigade of
Michigan cavalry encamped just south of Emmitsburg on the old
tollgate, before heading toward Hanover. George Custer was promoted
to Brigadier General in Frederick and replaced General Joseph T.
Copeland as commander. General Custer had scouted the Emmitsburg
area and hired a local resident by the name of Jim McCullough to
guide his cavalry around the Emmitsburg area. The old Toll House
stands next to the Getty gas station off of Route 15 at the exit for
South Seton Avenue. Traces of the old Emmitsburg Road can still be
Stop Two: Saint Joseph’s
From South Seton Avenue, three
Civil War Trail markers are located in the parking lot of the
Daughter's of Charity and St. Joseph's. The 5th Michigan Cavalry
encamped on the grounds of Saint Joseph’s on June 27th. On June
29th, as General Reynolds and his staff approached Emmitsburg that
evening, General Reynolds rode ahead of his columns and entered
Emmitsburg. Once there, Reynolds and his staff tried to recruit
locals to cross over the Catoctin Mountain Gaps to observe and
report in detail the movements of the Confederate army. General
Reynolds also placed a company of Signal Corps on the mountain
behind Mount Saint Mary’s known as Indian Lookout. Saint Joseph’s
witnessed the Union encampment on its grounds belonging to the First
and Eleventh Crops prior to the battle of Gettysburg. After General
Reynolds ordered the First Corps to Marsh Creek, General David
Birney’s Division of the Third Corps encamped on the grounds of
Stop Three: Lincoln Park
Using one of the baseball fields,
look toward the southwest. This is the direction of Mount Saint
Seminary. The Catoctin Mountain ends here at the high point you see.
This is known as Indian Lookout. Using the highest point in the
Emmitsburg area, Indian Lookout became a landmark. This area held
the most spectacular view of the battle of Gettysburg. Emmitsburg
resident George T. Humerick was sixteen years old when the Civil War
broke out. During the first day of the battle of Gettysburg, he
witnesses the flags waving from the top of the mountains west of
town. He went up to what is known as the old Wagaman farm and came
upon seven signal corpsmen taking signals from the Gettysburg
battlefield. The signal from Gettysburg read: "General Reynolds was
killed and they are pressing us hard.” Mr. Humerick, the first
civilian to hear of the death.
Stop Four: The Emmitsburg Post
Two Itinerary Signs are located
just off of South Seton Avenue. These signs were originally posted
at Emmitsburg’s square. Later they were removed to the current
Stop Five: The Emmit House
On the morning of July 5th, General
JEB Stuart made his way from the fields of Gettysburg to Emmitsburg.
General Stuart came to the town of Emmitsburg during the dawn hours
with the 34th Virginia Cavalry under Lt. Colonel Vincent Witcher
leading the advance into Emmitsburg where seventy Union men and
their captain were taken prisoner. Among the prisoners was a
photographer from Mathew Brady’s Photography Firm. Three
photographers named, Alexander Gardner, Timothy O'Sullivan, and
James Gibson all were traveling to Gettysburg when they came to
Emmitsburg on the night of July 4th. Gardner himself stayed at the
(Hoffman) Farmers Inn and Motel at Emmitsburg.
Stop Six: Elias Lutheran Church
Emmitsburg during the time of the
battle of Gettysburg: “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."
Stop Seven: St. Joseph's Rectory
Saint Joseph's Rectory was one of
few building on the block still standing from the fire of June 15th,
1863, General Reynolds set up his headquarters and directed Union
efforts from Emmitsburg’s Lutheran parsonage, St. Joseph's Rectory.