Midstate Historical Markers: JEB Stuart attacks Dillsburg

DILLSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Not all historical markers in Pennsylvania are erected by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. A concrete example is a marker set up in 1990 by the Northern York County Historical and Preservation Society.

Located on Baltimore Street, not far from the Dill Tavern, it commemorates the day in 1863 that Jeb Stuart and his Confederate cavalry marched through Dillsburg.

James Ewell Brown Stuart, or Jeb for short, commanded the cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia. When Robert E. Lee led the army in an invasion of Pennsylvania in June 1863, Stuart planned to circle around the Union army and meet the rest of Lee’s army closer to Harrisburg , wreaking as much havoc as possible along the way. .

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It turned out that much of the havoc he caused was under his own command. Contacts with Union forces continued to push him farther east than he wanted. When he reached Hanover on June 30, he ran into Union cavalry, in what would be the largest battle to ever take place in Pennsylvania—for less than 24 hours.

Stuart decided to head for Carlisle, hoping to join the rest of the army there. His troops traveled east through York County via Jefferson, then headed north to Dover. There he divided his forces into two columns. One was driving north on the old York Road, the other was on present-day Route 74. Along the way, they…requisitioned…everything they could get their hands on.

Stuart and his exhausted horsemen arrived at Dillsburg in the early evening of July 1.

Stuart went to Carlisle with part of his command. The rest, under Brigadier General Wade Hampton III, remained near Dillsburg to await further orders and try to rest, when not requisitioning.

A little after midnight, Hampton received new orders from Stuart. The weary men remounted their tired horse and rode south to a small town in Adams County named Gettysburg.

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