Categories
Historic America

Wrightsville Battlefield in York County, Pennsylvania

This small but consequential skirmish may have saved Harrisburg from capture by Lee’s Confederates during the Civil War.

The Skirmish at Wrightsville was fought on June 28, 1863 between Union forces commanded by Maj. Granville O. Haller and Confederate forces commanded by Brig. Gen. John B. Gordon in Wrightsville, York County, Pennsylvania during the American Civil War. It was tactically a Confederate victory, however, the hastily assembled force of Pennsylvania militia successfully burned the bridge over the Susquehanna River, preventing the Confederates from surrounding Harrisburg.

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 raiding towns, sending escaped slaves south, and paying for supplies in worthless Confederate currency. Advanced units of Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell’s Second Corps neared the Susquehanna River by June 28th.

After capturing York, Pennsylvania, Brig. Gen. John B. Gordon moved northeast to seize the Susquehanna River bridge in Wrightsville, a borough of 1,360. Standing between his 2,113 Confederates and the bridge were approximately 1,461 untrained Pennsylvania militia, organized into the 27th, 20th, and 26th regiments, including 53 free blacks who volunteered to fight.

Categories
Historic America

Thunder on the Hudson

During the Revolutionary War, New York’s Hudson River Valley was the scene of numerous battles as both sides sought to control this vital waterway.

Before automobiles and paved roads, rivers were the highways of their day. Whoever controlled a major river could ferry troops and supplies back and forth over hundreds of miles. Control of the Hudson River in eastern New York was critical to British plans early in the Revolutionary War, but Patriots blocked passage by spanning the river with large iron chains at a narrow point near Bear Mountain.

After being pushed out of New York City in 1776, Gen. George Washington established his headquarters in Peekskill along the Hudson River. He considered the area critical for keeping the Continental Army supplied. Numerous battles and skirmishes were fought for control over this vital waterway.

Battle of White Plains

The Battle of White Plains was fought on October 28, 1776 during George Washington’s retreat from New York City. Washington positioned his depleted Continental Army on hills near White Plains, New York, east of the Hudson River. He established 3-mile long defensive positions, including two lines of earthworks, anchored by swampy land near the Bronx River on one flank and Chatterton’s Hill on the other.

Categories
Historic America Photography

Worthington Farmhouse

The Worthington Farmhouse on Monocacy National Battlefield, 4632 Araby Church Road (Visitor Center) outside Frederick, Maryland. On July 9, 1864, Confederate forces under Brig. Gen. John McCausland crossed the Monocacy River and clashed with Union Brig. Gen. James B. Ricketts’ brigade on the farm of John T. Worthington while Worthington and his frightened family huddled inside their home.

Categories
Historic America

Second Winchester Battlefield in Frederick County, Virginia

In the first major infantry battle of the Gettysburg Campaign, Confederate forces dealt a crushing blow to Union designs in the Shenandoah. Today you can visit the remains of a fort where they fought.

The battles of Second Winchester and Stephenson’s Depot were fought from June 13 to 15, 1863 between Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Robert H. Milroy and Confederate forces commanded by Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell in Frederick County, Virginia during the American Civil War. These dramatic Confederate victories in the Gettysburg Campaign’s opening phase cleared a path through the Shenandoah Valley for Gen. Robert E. Lee’s army, allowing it to invade Maryland and Pennsylvania. Taken together, the battles were among the most lopsided of the war, with 4,747 total casualties, mostly Union prisoners.

On June 1, 1863, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia slipped away from the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, and headed north to invade Pennsylvania. Gen. Robert E. Lee intended to use the Shenandoah Valley as a corridor to invade the north, with the Blue Ridge Mountains hiding his movements from the enemy. To do so, he first needed to clear the 8,324-man Federal garrison commanded by Maj. Gen. Robert H. Milroy at Winchester, Virginia. He entrusted his Second Corps commander Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell with the task.

Milroy had occupied the area around Winchester since late December 1862, digging fortifications to protect his supply depot as well as the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad farther north. On June 12, Ewell took his three divisions and one cavalry brigade, for a total of 19,000 men, through Chester’s Gap into the Shenandoah Valley. He sent one division under Maj. Gen. Robert E. Rodes northeast to cut off the Federal retreat and his other two divisions under Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early and Maj. Gen. Edward “Allegheny” Johnson to directly attack Milroy at Winchester.

Categories
Historic America Photography

Turner Rifles at Antietam

Relief sculpture on the 20th Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry monument at Antietam National Battlefield. The 20th NY ‘Turner Rifles’ was part of the Union Army of the Potomac, Third Brigade, Second Division, Sixth Army Corps. The regiment was involved in repelling the final Confederate counterattack near Dunker Church during the Battle of Antietam.

Categories
Historic America

Trevilian Station Battlefield in Louisa County, Virginia

Drive the battlefield where Union and Confederate forces clashed in one of the largest all-cavalry engagements of the war, and what some have called Gen. Custer’s “first last stand.”

The Battle of Trevilian Station was fought from June 11 to June 12, 1864 between Union cavalry commanded by Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan and Confederate cavalry commanded by Maj. Gens. Wade Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee in Louisa County, Virginia during the American Civil War. This Confederate victory, part of Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign, was one of the largest cavalry fights of the war. Union forces failed to sever Robert E. Lee’s critical supply line, prolonging the war by months. It resulted in approximately 2,315 total casualties.

By the opening days of June 1864, the Union and Confederate armies had been locked in near-continuous deadly combat for a month. The two armies clashed in bloody battle after bloody battle, inching closer and closer to the Confederate capital of Richmond. After the Battle of Cold Harbor, Grant planned to slip away from Lee and cross the James River. He sent Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan’s cavalry corps to destroy the Virginia Central Railroad, one of Lee’s main supply lines, as a diversion.

Categories
Historic America Photography

Mohawk Warrior

This bronze statue of a Mohawk brave reaching to take a drink of water from a spring sits in Lake George Battlefield Park in Warren County, New York. Sculptor Alexander Phimister Proctor completed the statue (which is also a working fountain) for Commissioner of Conservation for New York State George Pratt in 1921. It has sat beside this quiet woodland pond ever since. Lake George was the scene of several battles between the French, British, and their native allies. Mohawk Indians fought on both sides.