Historic America

The “Siege” of Carlisle, Pennsylvania

This minor skirmish in the Gettysburg Campaign is often overlooked, but was no less dramatic for the citizens of this small town who endured hours of artillery fire.

The Battle of Carlisle was fought on July 1, 1863 between Union militia forces commanded by Maj. Gen. William F. “Baldy” Smith and Confederate cavalry commanded by Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart in Carlisle, Pennsylvania during the American Civil War. This inconclusive skirmish, part of the Gettysburg Campaign, resulted in approximately 21 total casualties and the destruction of Carlisle Barracks. The next day, Stuart reunited with General Robert E. Lee’s army at Gettysburg, too late to have a significant impact on that battle.

In June 1863, after a dramatic victory at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee made the fateful decision to move north with his Army of Northern Virginia and invade Pennsylvania. The Union Army of the Potomac was slow to respond, and Confederate forces met little resistance as they fanned out across southern Pennsylvania. Confederate cavalry under Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, however, became trapped east of the Union army, and Stuart’s exhausted troopers fought several skirmishes to cut their way back to Lee’s army.

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