The Union Pursuit Out of Waynesboro

OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 27, Part 3 (Gettysburg Campaign), Page 991

[CONFIDENTIAL.] JULY 10, 1863-5. 30 a. m.


Confederate General Robert E. Lee

Major General J. E. B. STUART:

GENERAL: I received last evening your note of the 9th, relative to information brought by your scouts. During the night, Lieutenant [Thomas L.] Norwood, Thirty-seventh North Carolina Regiment, who was wounded at Gettysburg and made his escape, arrived. He reports he passed at Waynesborough what he supposed a division of the enemy, though it was called a heavy column. He also stated he heard that another column was passing down toward Boonsborough, and a third to Fredericktown. Notify [B. H.] Robertson to be on the lookout, and offer stiff resistance. Lieutenant N. says that General Couch, with Pennsylvania militia, was at Chambersburg. We must prepare for a vigorous battle, and trust in the mercy of God and the valor of our troops. Get your men in hand, and have everything ready.

Very truly,

R. E. LEE, General.


Report of General Joseph Knipe At Waynesboro, Encamped at Washington Township


Union General Joseph Knipe



The brigadier-general commanding calls the attention of the command to the certainty of an early with the enemy, and it is strictly enjoined upon brigade, regimental, and company commanders to attend at once to the condition of the arms and ammunition of the men under them. No time is to be lost in putting the arms in perfect order, and seeing that the boxes are filled with cartridges. The rations on hand must be cooked and out in haversacks, so that no detention will ensue when the order to march is given, and also that the men may not suffer for food when it may be impossible for the supply trains to reach them. By order of Brig. General W. F. Smith, commanding First Division:

ALEXANDER FARNHAM, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

Promulgated by order of Brigadier-General Knipe:

ROBERT MUNCH, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General .

Also the following.

Preparations were immediately made to carry out the above orders. Rations were procured and cooked under the directions of Quartermaster John C. Mullett, and orders were received to form in line at 3 p. m. of the 11th instant. Here, at this time, we joined you brigade for the first time, having been separated, as before mentioned, during our stay at Waynesborough, and marched down the hill on to the road; halted for the other regiments in our brigade to come into line, where we had to wait one full hour before they came into line, a delay, I am happy to say, which the gallant Sixty-eight regiment never caused any officer or brigade while in the service, being always prompt . Preparations being completed, orders were given,

“Battalion, right face; forward march!” and we were off for “Dixie, ” our march being on the direct road to Hagerstown from Waynesborough . Outmarch was with quick step for the first 4 miles. When we arrived at the Little Antietam – a river, from the heavy rains which had fallen, had become much swollen, and was very rough and rapid, the bridge over which had been destroyed by Lee’s army, on their retreat after the Gettysburg fight, only three days before, which we had to ford -we had now advanced some 2 miles across the line into Maryland, After fording and getting everything across, our march was slow and cautious, being in close proximity with the rebel pickets, and every moment expecting an engagement . Marching slowly, the night very dark, mud deep, we came to a halt in an open field about 10 o’clock, where the division bivouacked for the remainder of the night having sent out pickets and taken every precaution against a surprise . Before arriving where we bivouacked, my sickness became so severe that I was obliged to turn over my command to Lieutenant-Colonel Swift, and stopped, accompanied by Surgeon-

Soldier’s Aid Societies

By Alicia Miller

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The Union Soldier Monument stands guard, looking South from the Chambersburg Diamond. The same direction that many Confederate invasions took place from. 

How many of you are familiar with Soldier’s aid societies? Franklin County had its fair share of these societies during the Civil War, contributing all that they could for the welfare of their soldiers. At the outset of the war some women were reluctant to see their men join the army because they well understood the economic and emotional consequences of such action. These wives and sweethearts urged caution and counseled patience but they were in the minority and could not drown out the drumbeats that rallied communities to war. Most women supported the war and contributed to its conduct in numerous ways. Women on both sides of the mason and Dixon line took on roles that were quite similar during the war years. Clothing the first round of volunteers was but one way that they contributed to the initial rush to arms. They were expected to take care of the household and keep it running until the men returned. They also helped the war effort by sewing blankets, making bandages, joining nurse’s organizations and working at hospitals. Women rose to such challenges not only because they had the valuable skills of homemakers but also because they like their men folk had developed organizations ranging from sewing circles to temperance groups that allowed them to rally for quick collective action.

Soldiers Aid Societies became very prevalent in the war years on both side of the war. The Semi-Weekly Dispatch printed an article on January 28, 1862 urging the women of Pennsylvania to form Ladies’ Aid Societies in every village and town, as well as church and school societies, to make sure that all women contribute necessary supplies for the soldiers who are ill in hospitals throughout the Union.

Locally there were Ladies Societies in Mercersburg, Waynesboro, Chambersburg, Greencastle, and Fayetteville and they were very active both during the Civil War and the years following it. In 1861 the ladies of Chambersburg provided picket guards protecting the town with baskets of supplies and food, and presented a flag to the 7th and 8th regiments. In 1862 the Ladies of Waynesboro crafted a flag for the 126th Pennsylvania.

An article about the appreciation for the ladies societies in the area was in the Valley Spirit on July 30, 1862 entitled Our Patriotic Ladies: We visited, on Friday last, the Associate Reformed Church, which is occupied during the week by the Ladies Aid Society. We found the room pretty well filled with ladies, engaged in the noble, patriotic and christian duty of providing clothing, and other comforts, for our sick and wounded soldiers. We might say much in praise of our ladies, but this is an age in which noble deeds bring their own reward. We will say this much, however, the ladies of Chambersburg will compare with any in existence, in their efforts to provide for the wants, and relieve the suffering of our sick and wounded in the army. They have enlisted in the good cause their nimble fingers and their noble, warm and patriotic hearts with a will. All honor then to our ladies who have thus nobly evinced their patriotism and vindicated that judgment which the poet has pronounced upon their sex, and which the world has applauded. “When pain and anguish wring the brow, A ministering angel thou.”

The following article in Valley Spirit on May 6, 1863 is a striking comparison to the previous: How little is now in reserve for the next battle? With what remorse will every man and woman regret the indifferences of the present hour, when garments and various comforts are suddenly required? Heretofore hundreds of boxes were ready for shipment–now everything is lacking. The great rise in the price of material is one cause of this falling off; and this should render more imperative the duty of concentrating and sending through the most efficient channel all the stores which our loyal women furnish. Another cause of this falling off is in the weariness consequent upon this protracted war. But in the language of the President of the Commission, “As long as the men fight the women must knit and sew,” and the friends at home furnish means to alleviate the sorrows and wants of the camps and hospitals. Whatever you may have hitherto been doing, from this time consider how you can best and most surely reach the suffering soldier, where he is most exposed and most forgotten. Do not delay; do not abandon your efforts after a short time. You must enlist in the work for the war. It is the woman’s part in the patriotic struggle we are in.

In October 28, 1863, according to the Franklin Repository the Ladies Aid Society of Chambersburg reported some of their contributions to their soldiers in need: We forwarded in May and June 7 boxes containing the following goods (including a package from the ladies of Fayetteville, consisting of 4 shirts, 7 pair of drawers, 1 pair of pillow cases and 2 quilts,) 90 pillow cases, 62 pair drawers, 75 shirts, 14 bed sacks, 76 sheets, 127 towels, 68 handkerchiefs, 7 pair of stockings, 6 fans, 20 comforts, 15 quilts, 4 blankets, 22 wrappers, 4 pair of slippers and 14 pillows; also from friends in town and country a large quantity of canned and preserved fruit, bologna sausage, 14 doz. eggs, corn starch, jellies, butter.

In the latter years of the war many local ladies aid societies held held fairs benefitting Christian commission’s work for sick/diabled soldiers and by 1864, they were receiving letters from soldiers and officers asking them for items they needed and requesting the women to help supply them directly, certainly a sign of the need for such an organization and of the Aid Society’s success. In the years following the war the ladies aid societies of the area still continued to work tirelessly to improve the welfare of the soldiers, even with intentions of erecting a monument to Franklin County’s soldiers.

Initiated by the ladies aid society and secured through gifts of Franklin County citizens, the Memorial Fountain and Statue in downtown Chambersburg honors the town’s role in the Civil War. It was dedicated on July 17, 1878 to honor the men who fought in the Civil War and has a faithful Union soldier guarding the southern gate at the fountain.

A Confederate Jewish Soldier Recollects His Experience At Monterey Pass During The Confederate Retreat From Gettysburg

L. Leon (Louis) Diary of a Tar Heel Confederate Soldier, Charlotte, N.C.: Stone Publishing Co., 1913. Pg. 38-39(53rd North Carolina Infantry)

July 5 – Left this morning at 5 o’clock. Only marched ten miles to-day. The enemy being in our rear, and skirmishing very strong.

July 6 – Our company was ordered out as skirmishers to-day, as our regular skirmish corps was broken up during the fight. We were the rear of the army, and therefore had a very hard job before us. Fighting all day in falling back we certainly had fun. We were close enough to the enemy to hear their commands. We would hold them in check and give them a few rounds, then fall back again. They would then advance until we would make a stand, fight again, and so it was until we reached Fairfield, six miles from Gettysburg. I don’t think there were many lost on either side in this skirmish. We crossed South Mountain at Monteray Gap. When we came to the above town I pressed into service a citizen’s coat, in this way: We were ordered to rest, and, as usual, we would sit on fences and lay about the road. Some of the boys jumped on an old hog pen. It broke through. They fell in, and, lo and behold, there were boxes of clothing, dresses, shawls, blankets, and, in fact, everything in the line of wearing apparel. I, being a little fellow, crawled through some of the boys’ legs and captured the coat. If the fool citizen would have left his things in his house they would have been safe, but to put it in our way was too much for us to leave behind. We also passed through Waterboro, and Waynesboro, Pa., where the Maryland line commences. We then passed through Latisburg [Leitersburg], and halted in Hagerstown, Md., on the evening of the 7th. We marched yesterday and all night up to 11 o’clock – twenty-four miles.

Confederate Gunner George Neese during the Retreat from Gettysburg to Monterey Pass

George Neese. Three years in the Confederate Horse Artillery, New York and Washington, The Neale Publishing Company, 1911 Pg. 189-193

July 4 — It seems that the great battle is over and from all appearances our forces intend to strike out for Dixie’s fair land. The last reverberations of the deep booming thunder of the artillery that shook the hills around Gettysburg have died away, and the thick sulphury folds of the battle cloud that hung like a canopy over the battle-scarred plain and hugged the bloody crest of Cemetery Hill had dissolved in the soft summer air before General Lee’s army unwound itself from its deadly coil, and like a huge and dangerous serpent glided slowly and defiantly away toward the Potomac.

As soon as the Federal commander was thoroughly convinced that the Confederate forces were withdrawing from his front, he dispatched his cavalry on missions of destruction, to harass our rear and if possible destroy the immense trains of commissary and ordnance stores that were on the road toward the Potomac, by the way of Hagerstown valley.

Vast squadrons of the enemy’s horsemen soon swarmed and hung along our track like hungry vultures, ceaselessly watching for vulnerable points to attack and to seize booty, to the great terror and consternation of quartermasters, clerks, servants, cooks, and teamsters.

The arduous and responsible duty devolving on the Confederate cavalry during the retreat was to guard and defend the retiring trains of wagons and ambulances against all inroads and attempts that the Federal cavalry were liable to make for their capture or destruction, and more especially to strenuously oppose and foil all efforts of the enemy to make any advantageous interposition between General Lee’s army and the Potomac.

At sunrise this morning we moved to Fairfield and remained there until General Ewell’s wagons and ambulances passed, and then we followed them as a rear guard. It was nearly night when the last ambulances passed Fairfield, and at about six o’clock this evening we took up our line of march and followed them, the great caravan moving on the Hagerstown road.

At dark we struck the foot of the Blue Ridge. The road was muddy and slippery, the night dark; rainy, dreary, and dismal. The train moved very slowly, with halts and starts all night. Every time an ambulance wheel struck a rock I heard the pitiful groans of the wounded. Now and then an ominous and inauspicious boom of a Yankee cannon came rolling through the thick darkness from the top of the mountain, and apparently on the road we were on, which unmistakably indicated that the enemy was seriously interfering with the movements of our wagon train.

To-day while we were at Fairfield a drenching thunder-shower passed over, and we went in a stable for shelter during the rain. While we were in there some of our boys played marbles for amusement. Eventually one of the marbles rolled through a crack in the floor, and in order to get it we raised one of the boards in the floor, and under there we found a large store-box full of good, clean, nice bed-clothes, sheets, blankets, counterpanes as white as snow, and beautiful quilts, all of which had been recently hidden from the supposed desecrating hands of prejudged thieving Rebels. We left everything in the box and reported our find to the family that owned the stable, and told them to move their goods to the house and fear no danger of being molested. The family seemed to be astonished at our find and utterly surprised into coyish silence to learn that their goods were safe even when discovered by the dreaded Rebels.

I am almost convinced that a strong sentiment prevails throughout the whole North that the Southern army is composed of thieves and robbers mixed with barbarians and savages, and this malignant spirit is instilled into the populace and encouraged by irresponsible, mean lying newspapers that are published by men who have never been south of Mason and Dixon’s line.

Just yesterday, after the little fight with the Yankee cavalry near Fairfield, a young lady came to me and asked whether our men would allow her to take care of a wounded man that was lying in the road near her father’s bam. I told her to go and take care of as many wounded as she could find, and assured her that our men would not disturb her nor willingly interfere with her humane and laudable mission. I also told her that we did not come to Pennsylvania to make war on women.

July 5 — We were on the march nearly all last night, and most of the time we were mixed up in an ambulance train. Our march was very slow, and seemed more like a dead march than anything we have done in the marching business since the war. The surroundings were about as cheerful as a tomb.

The cannon we heard in the forepart of the night belonged to the Yanks, and they were shelling some of our wagon trains on top of the mountain. This morning just before day Colonel Thockmorton, commanding the Sixth Virginia Cavalry, came down the mountain with his regiment in a rather stirred-up condition, as if something wild and very dangerous had been seen in front. Captain Chew asked Colonel Thockmorton where he was going. He replied, ” Down the mountain. A Yankee battery fired canister into the head of my command, and I am not going up there again until daylight.” Captain Chew then remarked, ” Colonel, my battery was ordered up here to support your regiment, and if you go back, I will too.” Accordingly we went back down the mountain a short distance, fed our horses and waited for day. Immediately after daylight we renewed our march up the mountain, and when we arrived on top the Yankee destroyers had vanished from the scene of their last night’s destructive operations, and all was still and quiet on the mountain highlands. From all accounts and appearances the Yankee force that struck the wagon train on top of the mountain last night was considerable and overwhelming, as we had but few men to protect the train at that point in particular. It was not the train that we were guarding that was destroyed. The Yanks destroyed about ninety wagons, and they did their work well. Some of the wagons were chopped to pieces and others were burned. I saw the debris, such as skillets, frying pans, camp kettles, and all sorts of camp furniture scattered all along the road.

I made a little tour of inspection this morning where the Yankee raiders attacked the wagon train last night, merely to see whether I could find any evidence or trace of the resistance our few wagon train guards offered to the overwhelming force of Yankee cavalry that swept along the road. I found very few battle scars or marks on the trees and bushes, but behind a rock in a thick clump of trees lay one of our sharpshooters, still and silent in the bivouac of the dead, and no earthly reveille will ever wake him again. He was shot through the brain, and no doubt was killed by his adversary firing at the flash of the sharpshooter’s gun, which still lay by the dead body and pointed to the front.

After we were on the summit of the mountain about two hours we went down a mile on the Emmitsburg road on picket. We had about five hundred infantry of McLaw’s division with us for support. The infantrymen threw up breastworks along the front of our position. We remained on picket all day, and this evening we moved back a mile and camped at Monterey Springs on the summit of the Blue Ridge, sixteen miles, east of Hagerstown. General Longstreet’s infantry came up the Emmitsburg road this evening.



Captain James Kidd, 6th Michigan Cavalry

Personal Recollections of a Cavalryman with Custer’s Michigan Cavalry Brigade in the Civil War, By J.H. Kidd, Ionia, Michigan, Sentinel Printing Company, 1908 p 167-171


Captain James Harvey Kidd, 6th Michigan Cavalry

Well, on the morning of the Fourth, General Kilpatrick sent an order to regimental commanders to draw three days’ rations and be prepared for a protracted absence from the army, as we were to go to the right and rear of Lee to try and intercept his trains, and in every way to harass his retreating columns as much as possible. We were all proud of our new commanders, for it was evident that they were fighting men, and that while they would lead us into danger, if we survived it there would be left the consciousness of having done our duty, and the credit of accomplishing something for the cause.


It must also be said that a strong feeling of “pride in the corps” had taken root. Men were proud that they belonged to Kilpatrick’s division and to Custer’s brigade, for it must not be supposed that the above estimate of the former is based upon what we knew of him at that time. We were under him for a long time after that. This was the first day that we felt the influence of his immediate presence.

When it was known that Kilpatrick was to lead a movement to the enemy’s rear all felt that the chances were excellent for the country to hear a good deal about our exploits within the next few days, and nobody regretted it.

But before the start it began to rain in torrents. It has been said that a great battle always produces rain. My recollection is not clear as to the other battles, but I know that the day after Gettysburg the flood-gates of heaven were opened, and as the column of cavalry took its way towards Emmittsburg it was deluged. It seemed as if the firmament were an immense tank, the contents of which were spilled all at once. Such a drenching as we had! Even heavy gum coats and horsehide boots were hardly proof against it. It poured and poured, the water running in streams off the horses’ backs, making of every rivulet a river and of every river and mountain stream a raging flood.

But Lee was in retreat and, rain or shine, it was our duty to reach his rear, so all day long we plodded and plashed along the muddy roads towards the passes in the Catoctin and South mountains. It was a tedious ride for men already worn out with incessant marching and the fatigues of many days. It hardly occurred to the tired trooper that it was the anniversary of the nation’s natal day. There were no fireworks, and enthusiasm was quenched not by the weather only but by the knowledge that the confederate army, though repulsed, was not captured. The news of Grant’s glorious victory in the west filled every heart with joy, of course, but the prospect of going back into Virginia to fight the war over again was not alluring, but possibly that might not be our fate.

Vigorous pursuit might intercept Lee on this side of the Potomac. Every trooper felt that he could endure wet and brave the storm to aid in such strategy, and all set their faces to the weather and rode, if not cheerfully, at least patiently forward in the rain.

I have said that on that memorable Fourth of July there were no fireworks. That was a mistake. The pyrotechnic display was postponed until a late hour, but it was an interesting and exciting exhibition, as all who witnessed it will testify. It was in the night and darkness lent intensity to the scene.

Toward evening the flood subsided somewhat, though the sky was overcast with wet-looking clouds, and the swollen and muddy streams that ran along and across our pathway fretted and frothed like impatient coursers under curb and rein. Their banks could hardly hold them.

During the afternoon and evening the column was climbing the South Mountain. A big confederate wagon train was going through the gap ahead of us. If we could capture that, it would be making reprisal for some of Stuart’s recent work in Maryland.

Toward midnight we were nearing the top, marching along the narrow defile, the mountain towering to the right, and sloping off abruptly to the left, when the boom of a cannon announced that the advance guard had encountered the enemy. The piece of artillery was planted in the road, at the summit, near the Monterey house, and was supported by the confederate rearguard, which at once opened fire with their carbines. It was too dark to distinguish objects at any distance, the enemy was across the front and no one could tell how large a force it might be. The First Michigan had been sent to the right, early in the evening, to attack a body of the enemy, hovering on the right flank in the direction of Fairfield, and had a hard fight, in which Captain Elliott and Lieutenant McElhenny, two brave officers, were killed. The Fifth and Sixth were leading and at once dismounted and deployed as skirmishers. Generals Kilpatrick and Custer rode to the place where the line was forming, and superintended the movement. The Sixth, under Colonel Gray, was on the right of the line, the road to its left. At least the portion of the regiment to which my troop belonged was in that position. I think, perhaps, a part of the regiment was across the road. The Fifth formed on the left; the First and Seventh in reserve, mounted. There is a good deal of guess work about it, for in the darkness one could not tell what happened except in his immediate neighborhood.

The order “Forward,” finally came, and the line of skirmishers advanced up the slope, a column of mounted men following in the road, ready to charge when opportunity offered. Soon we encountered the confederate skirmishers, but could locate them only by the flashes of their guns. The darkness was intense and in a few moments we had plunged into a dense thicket, full of undergrowth, interlaced with vines and briars, so thick that it was difficult to make headway at all. More than once a trailing vine tripped me up, and I fell headlong. To keep up an alignment was out of the question. One had to be guided by sound and not by sight. The force in front did not appear to be formidable in numbers, but had the advantage of position, and was on the defensive in a narrow mountain pass where numbers were of little avail. We had a large force, but it was strung out in a long column for miles back, and it was possible to bring only a few men into actual contact with the enemy, whatever he might be. This last was a matter of conjecture and Kilpatrick doubtless felt the necessity of moving cautiously, feeling his way until he developed what was in his front. To the right of the road, had it not been for the noise and the flashing of the enemy’s fire we should have wandered away in the darkness and been lost.

The confederate skirmishers were driven back across a swollen stream spanned by a bridge. The crossing at this point was contested fiercely, but portions of the Fifth and Sixth finally forced it and then the whole command crossed over.

In the meantime the rumbling of wagon wheels could be heard in the road leading down the mountain. It was evident we were being detained by a small force striving to hold us there while the train made its escape. A regiment was ordered up mounted to make a charge. I heard the colonel giving his orders. “Men,” he said, “use the saber only; I will cut down any man who fires a shot.” This was to prevent shooting our own men in the melee, and in the darkness. Inquiring, I learned it was the First (West) Virginia cavalry. This regiment which belonged in the First brigade had been ordered to report to Custer. At the word, the gallant regiment rushed like the wind down the mountain road, “yelling like troopers,” as they were, and good ones too, capturing everything in their way.

This charge ended the fighting for that night. It was one of the most exciting engagements we ever had, for while the actual number engaged was small, and the casualties were not great, the time, the place, the circumstances, the darkness, the uncertainty, all combined to make “the midnight fight at Monterey” one of unique interest . General Custer had his horse shot under him which, it was said and I have reason to believe, was the seventh horse killed under him in that campaign. The force that resisted us did its duty gallantly, though it had everything in its favor. They knew what they had in their front, we did not. Still, they failed of their object, which was to save the train. That we captured after all. The Michigan men brushed the rear guard out of the way, the First Virginia gave the affair the finishing touch.

The fight over, men succumbed to fatigue and drowsiness. I had barely touched the saddle before I was fast asleep, and did not awake until daylight, and then looking around, could not see a man that I recognized as belonging to my own troop. As far as the eye could reach, both front and rear, was a moving mass of horses with motionless riders all wrapped in slumber. The horses were moving along with drooping heads and eyes half-closed. Some walked faster than others and, as a consequence, would gradually pull away from their companions through the column in front; others would fall back. So it came to pass that few men found themselves in the same society in the morning with which they started at midnight. As for myself, I awoke to wonder where I was and what had become of my men. Not one of them could I see. My horse was a fast walker, and I soon satisfied myself that I was in advance of my troop and, when the place designated for the division to bivouac was reached, dismounted and awaited their arrival. Some of them did not come up for an hour, and they were scattered about among other commands, in squads, a few in a place. It was seven o’clock before we were all together once more.

Then we had breakfast, and the men had a chance to look the captures over and quiz the prisoners. The wagons were soon despoiled of their contents and such stuff as was not valuable or could not be transported was burned. Among the prisoners was Colonel Davis, of the Tenth Virginia cavalry, who claimed that he led the charge against our position on the third. He expressed himself very freely as having had enough, and said, “This useless war ought to be ended at once.”

Peace Democrats Who Opposed the Civil War

copperheadpinFor years, I have heard stories about a group of people who lived along the Mason Dixon Line that were opposed to the Civil War. This topic is a forgotten aspect that played a major role in politics in several Maryland and Pennsylvania towns in this region. Maryland is known as a border state and it is common knowledge that the state was split in their loyalties. However, did you know that Pennsylvania was just the same? There were several men who took up arms for the Confederacy from Pennsylvania. Some sources state that almost 2,000 men fought in the Confederate army. As the Civil War progressed, many Pennsylvania Democrats were split, and as a result their party became split as well. Some men supported the war while others did not, those that did not became known as a Copperhead.

In 1862, once it became known that the Civil War would give way to freedom for African Americans, a race war was inevitable. On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln announced a formal emancipation of all slaves within the Confederate States that did not return to Union control by January 1, 1863. Many white citizens as well as immigrants in Maryland and Pennsylvania feared that their employer would replace them with the freed African Americans, paying them at a lower pay rate. The war was unpopular, and as a result many people rose up against the drafts. Most citizens just wanted peace with the southern states. They felt that a war wasn’t worth the lives that would be expended and they did not want new laws being enforced to pay for the war debt. By the Spring of 1863, many Franklin County, Pennsylvania papers gave birth to the Anti-war men known as the Copperheads.

Most Civil War buffs have heard the term “Copperhead,” but do they really understand who these men were? Looking up the definition of a Copperhead during the time of the American Civil War, the term was dubbed as a vocal group of Democrats in the Northern United States who opposed the Civil War, wanting an immediate peace settlement with the Confederate States of America. Copperheads were sometimes identified by a copper cent with the Goddess of Liberty cut out and displayed as a badge upon their coat lapel.

Most of the newspaper accounts cited in this article are from Franklin County, Pennsylvania, which borders Northern Maryland cities such as Hagerstown, and within 15 miles of Emmitsburg. Even though these sources are directly related to Pennsylvania, the same sentiments were expressed in the bordering Maryland towns.

The term Copperhead was first reported in Waynesboro in the Waynesboro Village Record on March 13, 1863. The Waynesboro Village Record ran an article comparing the 1863 Copperhead to that of the 1814 Copperhead. “Comparing them to the Federalists who convened the infamous Hartford Convention, the article declares that copperheadism of today is the offshoot of copperheadism of 1812-14.” But, it adds, “Just as the Federalists were dealt a stunning blow as a consequence of their actions following the U. S. victory over the British, a similar result will befall the latest generation, which will be visited with the scorn and damnation of not only all American freemen, but by the lovers of freedom throughout the world as well.”

Another story from March 13th was reported about the distribution of a pamphlet that was reported as a “Treasonable Document.” This article read: “It is reported that several local, prominent copperheads are involved in a scheme to distribute pamphlets containing a speech recently delivered by “the Ohio traitor, Vallandigam.” Despite the fact that Vallandigam was threatened with violence in his own state for his pro-southern views, the piece sardonically notes, for some reason, parties in Franklin County applaud the villain and seek to give him notoriety by disseminating his treasonable documents among the people.”

In March of 1863, the Copperheads were victorious during the township elections. The Valley Spirit on March 25th, 1863 reported that “During the Spring elections Franklin county is now largely Democratic beyond the peradventure of a doubt. It is an old saying, that the first thunder of the season awakes the snakes, and it must have been the late storm that stirred out the “copperheads” on Friday last. For out they came, though the day was scarcely warm enough for them, and like the Serpent that Aaron cast down before Pharaoh, they very quietly went to work and devoured all the little poisonous snakes that were hissing out their venom around them. Stand firm, Democrats, be moderate, patient, long-suffering, stick together, and the story of Aaron’s big snake won’t be a circumstance to the way the “blacksnakes” and “blowers” will disappear before next fall.”

In another article entitled “Union or Loyal League” excerpts from the article reveal “They’ll keep the damned copperheads in their places, so this is the object of the organization, is it? They alone are to decide who are “copperheads,” and “copperheads” are to be “kept in their places” that is, in other words, to be prevented from expressing their opinions by voice or through the ballot box. Well, let the issue come; the sooner it is met the better. Such is the movement now being inaugurated in Pennsylvania.”

On March 27th, 1863, the Copperheads made the Waynesboro Village Record. It was reported that on two occasions rebel sympathizers met on the streets after dark and celebrated to honor Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, and the Southern Cause, however the Copperheads were growing bolder. Another article in the paper stated that the Copperheads did not speak out against the use of African Americans in the Confederate army where blacks and whites would fight/work side by side even though they were opposed to African American men enlisting in segregated regiments of the Union army.

On April 1st, 1863, the Valley Spirit reported that the Democratic majority outweighed the Republicans in victories across the Commonwealth. However, when it came to the Democratic Copperhead and the radical Republication known as a Blacksnake, it was stated that a “copperhead is fearless, independent, and brave, while black snakes are cowardly, hissing, and thieving.”

Soon politics in the local papers began a political war with words. On April 3rd, 1863, the Waynesboro Village Record reported: “The focus of the piece is on the newspaper’s claim to political impartiality, which, they admit, has been called into question lately by local copperheads. It is a high crime in their estimation for a paper neutral in politics to denounce traitors of the Vallandigham stripe North, and thus advocate the cause of the Union and true democracy. They call this partiality, abuse of the democratic party, etc. It will be impossible for us to contend with present prices successfully, with the lying “copperheads” resorting to every means in their power.”

As the war with words stormed throughout the papers, the Waynesboro Village Record on April 14, 1863 reported that “The editors denounce the mounting criticism of Union Leagues made by copperhead newspapers, which contend that the organization is extremely partisan. Copperhead papers every where (says the Hanover Spectator) are making bitter and malignant attacks upon the Union Leagues and charge among other things that they are secret oath bound associations intended to suppress public sentiment by the sword and bayonet.”

On April 17th, 1863, the Waynesboro Village Record ran an article: “A Copperhead Corns Pinched.” It was a rebuttal to an article that appeared in the Chambersburg Valley Spirit, assailing one of the Record’s correspondents. The controversy was sparked by the views that disloyal northerners should be “strung up to the telegraph poles along the railroad.”

As the Copperheads’ reputation grew, so did the editorials in the papers. During the Union Loyal League Meeting held in May it was reported by the Waynesboro Village Record that “the organizational meeting for local chapter of the Union League went off smoothly with the exception of the expected interruptions of several copperheads who, like “slimy reptiles,” milled about the hall “bellowing” throughout the evening. The man who asserts that nobody is disloyal in the loyal states must be one of two things, a fool or full-fledged traitor. Who tore down under cover of darkness, in Waynesboro, months ago, the American flag? Were they loyal hands?”

Franklin County Copperheads would soon be at unease as their leader was arrested. Ohio Representative Clement Laird Vallandigham was the Copperhead faction of anti-war Democrats and was a vigorous supporter of constitutional states’ rights. He did not believe in supporting a war to end slavery, which he felt would lead to the enfranchisement of the African American people. He was arrested by the Union Provost because he had violated an army order against the public expression of sympathy for the Confederate States. He was ordered to be confined for the duration of the Civil War. However, on the order of President Lincoln, Vallandigham “the Copperhead traitor” was instead sent to the enemy lines.”

On May 22nd, it was reported “The arrest of Vallandigham has sparked considerable unrest among copperheads, even in Waynesboro. Some of his supporters proposed having a rally in town to voice their displeasure with the arrest, but opted not to because it was deemed inexpedient at this time.” A week later the Waynesboro Village Record on May 29, 1863, reported “The Original Copperhead, Utilizing an extract from an address given by Benedict Arnold to validate its claim, the piece casts copperheads as the heirs to his legacy of shame.”

Upon returning to Pennsylvania, Company B of the 126th Pennsylvania had their flag inscribed “Copperheads Beware.” Unknown to the soldiers at the time, the flag was soon adopted by the Fulton Union League.

While, disarray was all surrounding the arrest of Vallandigham, the Waynesboro Village Record on June 05, 1863, reported that another demonstration was made by the Copperheads at the Waynesboro Square voicing their support to Jefferson Davis and Vallandigham “who, it appears, has become their “pet.”

On June 12th, 1863, just days before the Confederate invasion of Pennsylvania, the Waynesboro Village Record reported that close to 2,000 clergymen in France and England have united to condemn the “Slave Aristocracy.” The religious leaders assert that the Confederacy, based as it is on slavery, “is at war with Christianity.” In fact, proclaims the piece, outside of the South, with the exception of northern copperheads, this sentiment “is the view of the Christian world.”

Another article in the same edition read “it is quite easy to determine the motives underlying copperheads’ support for the Confederacy: naked self-interest. Proponents of the southern cause in New York advocate “peace at any cost” because they “lost the Southern trade” as a consequence of the war. Similarly, supporters of the rebel cause in Illinois are spurred primarily by the drop in the price of corn occasioned by the onset of the conflict.” These malcontents, the article declares, would rather “break up the nation” than sacrifice their own personal economic interests.

With the introduction of new publications in Philadelphia, the Copperheads were given the opportunity to reach a broader audience with their political statement. However, several anti-Copperhead supporters stated that the new publications “Expresses sentiments so treasonable, that a man would have to be a bold, bonified traitor to endorse such opinions.” In New York, an elderly gentleman was heckled and dragged from the stage at a copperhead meeting because he asserted that South Carolina started the war.

Soon the Copperheads would be tested in Waynesboro and the surrounding areas as Confederate soldiers would embark upon their town. Many Copperheads had long anticipated this moment, thinking that their support of the Confederate cause would be warmly received by the soldiers. This turned out to be the exact opposite; in fact many Copperheads were shunned by the Confederate soldiers. Many area newspapers headlined the “Rebels Snub the Copperheads”. Pennsylvania residents were treated poorly by the Confederate soldiers such as one case where a Confederate soldier threatened harm to a woman if she did not cut down a Liberty pole. This was according to reporters “one of the most ‘malignant copperheads’ in town.”

As Confederate Albert Jenkins and his cavalry brigade made their way northward into Pennsylvania, several Copperheads were surprised to see that the Confederate general refused to shake their hands. In one case Jenkins was reported as saying “Lincoln ought to have hung you and the rest of the Copperheads long ago. We would not tolerate such men in the Southern Confederacy. We respect those who are against us in the North much more than the Copperheads.” Many Confederate soldiers voiced their opinions to the Copperheads telling them that if they truly supported the South, they should pick up a musket and join the fight. This stunned the Copperheads to their core.

Soon, in July, violence began in New York by the Copperheads when they resisted the draft. The Copperheads were blamed for hanging men from lamp posts as well as trying to start another riot. Many papers criticized the inconstancy of the Copperheads. “To opponents of black enlistment, Copperheads declare a “white man’s war.” To government calls for white enlistments, Copperheads cry “black man’s war.” To opponents of black enlistment, Copperheads charge racial inequality.”

In Kentucky, it was reported that “contempt for the Copperheads who have little respect for the Union soldiers who fight to preserve the Union. The author sees little difference between the rebels and the Copperheads.” In Tennessee, the Knoxville Register states that “consideration of those Germans here and elsewhere, who have been led, against their better judgment and the tradition of their Faderland, by copperhead demagogues, to sympathize with the rebels, or at least to place themselves in an attitude of opposition to the administration of the United States Government. We think that with this knowledge of what the rebels think of the Germans and how they purpose to treat them, any German who still blindly follows their Copperhead leaders, is utterly destitute of self-respect and of brotherly feeling for the gallant Germans in our army”

In the Franklin Repository published on August 5, 1863 “The Fulton Democrat, edited by the member of the Democratic State Committee for this district, seems exceedingly ambitious to get up a small draft riot in Fulton County. In a late issue an editorial review of the conscription bill thus apologizes for the copperhead thieves and murderers of New York.”

As the Copperheads’ reputation grows they will soon be attacked by their words, actions and political stand regarding several key issues of the day. Many articles in the local Franklin County papers state that African Americans are superior to the Copperheads. Other headlines state that the Copperheads were whispering into the ears of people stating the Government is neglecting the people. Eventually other Democrats began leaving the party.

The Union ticket even tried to influence women. On September 30th, 1863, the Franklin Repository stated “To the young women we would say, that if after trying all their persuasive eloquence on their suitors they prove to be incorrigible Copperheads, give them the mitten at once. Don’t waste a smile on a fellow who refuses either by bullet or ballot to help put down the rebellion. Make these bucks face the Union music square, or go under!”

President Lincoln issued a proclamation that was published in the New York Tribune, “How good a work the President has done for the army and the nation, by his timely interposition between the Copperheads and their cherished object, of defeating the draft and so preventing the reinforcement of the army, when he issued his recent proclamation suspending the privileges of the writ of habeas corpus in certain cases. The schemes of the conspirators of copperheadism have been brought to naught.”

In Waynesboro, Major B. M. Morrow of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Cavalry responded to accusations that he and his soldiers disrupted a Union meeting previously reported in the Franklin Repository. Major Morrow stated “As for the term of Copperhead applied to me. I care not, as my attachment to the army for more than two years will give the lie to that.”

While the papers kept fueling the intense political fire regarding Copperheads, this one article is, at the very least, comical. On October 7, 1863, the Franklin Repository wrote “John M. Cooper, formerly of the Spirit, is a Copperhead working as a clerk in Harrisburg and assessing mortgages for the county.” The Repository jokes that in order for the county to avoid paying its taxes, Cooper should recommend inviting the rebels to come and visit in order to destroy their property, thus eliminating the need to pay taxes.

In late October it was reported that the rebel invasion brought an increased influence to Copperheads who encouraged local citizens to vote against Governor Curtin because the state government was slow in its compensation to the invaded areas. The Copperheads wanted Democrat George Woodward to gain control of Pennsylvania. By the elections of 1863, it was reported that the Copperheads unsuccessfully attempted to prevent the representatives from several states from voting. To make matters worse, all the Pennsylvania Copperheads voted against offering any encouragement for the enlistment of African Americans. During this period many Pennsylvania news editors wanted a “conscription bill that will “gobble up” a due share of the whining, cowardly, copperheads.” Even the papers stated that many Union soldiers who deserted from the ranks of the army were aided by the Copperheads.

As the Spring of 1864 was winding down, the papers continued to wage war against the Copperheads and “their decisive discomfiture in November” by running several columns in the papers for the Lincoln and Johnson ticket. With this new ad campaign, “A sardonic celebration of the new “marriage” between Copperheads and radicals, joined together by their mutual hatred of Lincoln.” The Copperheads would loose that cause when Lincoln was reelected as the President of the United States.

Until the close of the war and even during reconstruction, the Copperheads were still viewed as traitors to the Union, and as a result the Republicans held the public’s support up to the Great Depression. The term Copperhead would soon fade away as a footnote in history as the nation was coming together as one.

14th Virginia Cavalry Raiding Horses at Monterey Pass

From the Richmond Dispatch, April 5, 1896, Diary of Lieutenant Hermann Schuricht, of the Fourteenth Virginia Cavalry.

June 18th.—My company on picket, and I am officer of the day. Nothing of the enemy.

June 19th.—The company was ordered to Waynesborough, Pa., to capture horses and cattle in the neighborhood for our army. A powerful thunder-storm surprised us at night, and we took refuge on a large farm. The proprietor was obliged to furnish us with rations for ourselves and our horses.

June 20th.—We succeeded in capturing a number of horses and some cattle. At noon we came to the farm of an old Pennsylvania German. He was scared to death at catching sight of us, and shouted ‘O mein Gott, die rebels!’ I soon reassured him, telling him that no harm should result to him if he furnished us with a dinner and rations for our horses, and we were well cared for. A Federal cavalry regiment passed in sight of the place, fortunately not discovering our presence, and I concluded to march with my command to Lestersburg, Md., where the citizens furnished us with supper. We camped for the night in an open field, midway between Lestersburg and Hagerstown.

June 21st and 22d.—The 14th Virginia Cavalry Regiment readvanced towards Chambersburg, Pa., but Co. D, in charge of Captain Moorman and Major Bryan, of Rhodes’ Division, was detailed to proceed to the South Mountain to capture horses, of which about 2,000 had been taken there by farmers and industrial establishments to hiding places. We again passed through Lestersburg and then entered on the mountain region. It proved to be a very dangerous section for cavalry movements. At 1 o’clock at night we came to Use’s Iron-Works. Mr. Use, upon demand, furnished provisions, but as we discovered on the following days, secretly informed the farmers and troops of our approach.

The 9th New York Cavalry At Monterey Pass Before Gettysburg

Cheney, Newel. History of the ninth regiment, New York volunteer cavalry War of 1861 to 1865, Poland Center, N. Y. I90I. Pg. 100-102

Sunday June 28, Buford’s Division crossed the Catoctin range to Jefferson and marched thence to Middletown. The 9th N. Y. moved on about a mile beyond Middletown for picket duty that night. After entering Maryland some of the people along the route of march showed much enthusiastic loyalty in waving the Stars and Stripes and bringing refreshments to the men. At a picket post of the regiment at Miller’s Mill west of Middletown eleven Confederate prisoners captured at Hagerstown were brought in. A citizen from Frederick City also passed. He had been with his horses away north of Chambersburg, Pa., to keep them from the Confederates. He reported that he had seen nearly the whole of the Confederate army pass through Chambersburg. Ewell’s Corps was in the advance, Hill’s corps next, then Longstreet’s. He counted eighty-six pieces of artillery. The Confederates were taking all available supplies. They crossed the Potomac at Williamsport.

June 29, Gamble’s and Devin’s brigades of Buford’s Division marched westwardly across South Mountain to Boonsboro, thence north through Cavetown to Smithburg, thence east over South Mountain by way of Monterey Springs and bivouacked on the eastern slope of the mountain, making a long march of about forty miles. Merritt’s brigade of Buford’s Division moved from Middletown to Mechanicstown. It was learned that a large Confederate column of infantry had passed through Boonsboro about a week before and moved by way of Waynesboro toward Chambersburg. As the long column of Buford’s brigades passed, the people were enthusiastic in their greetings and expressions of satisfaction at the approach of the Union army. The first large National flag was displayed at the little village of Mount Pleasant north of Boonsboro, Md. It was spread out in front of a dwelling as if just brought from concealment. One old man stood beside the road near Monterey Springs, with his hat off and tears streaming down his face. As the column passed the men cheered him heartily. At Monterey, some of the officers called and got a well served supper of bread, butter, ham, apple-butter and coffee.

Tuesday, June 30. Buford’s column moved early, the men being called up at 3 a. m., intending to take the road by way of Fairfield, but encountering a strong outpost of the enemy who was in considerable force at Fairfield, and not wishing to bring on a battle there, Buford turned to the right toward Emmittsburg where the I Corps was found and
thence took the Emmittsburg road to Gettysburg.