Browsing Posts tagged Mechanisburg

The skirmish at Oyster Point was a small engagement that took place in late June 1863 in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania between Confederate forces under General Albert G. Jenkins’ command and Union militia from New York under General William F. Smith’s command. After Confederates entered Mechanicsburg, General Jenkins set up artillery and sent Virginia cavalry in pursuit of Union militia who had been in the town. At Oyster Point the Confederates encountered two militia regiments from New York and Landis’ Philadelphia Battery of Light Artillery. Later that day General Jenkins ordered his force to withdraw to the Rupp House in Mechanicsburg. Confederates returned on June 29, but they were unable to dislodge the Union militia. The Battle of Sporting Hill took place on the following day as Confederates left Mechanicsburg and marched towards Gettysburg. As a veteran who served with the 22nd New York Regiment recalled:

While this skirmish was of no particular account in itself, it is really historic. It was at the furthest northern point which was reached by the invaders, and marks the crest of the wave of the invasion of Pennsylvania. The retreat of the Confederate force there commenced did not end until the Potomac was crossed. The success obtained must be largely ascribed to the gallant conduct of Landis’ Battery,….”

A historical marker is located at the intersection of 31st Street and Market Streets in Camp Hill. You can read more about this battle in an essay on ExplorePAhistory.com, Robert Grant Crist’s article “Highwater 1863: The Confederate Approach to Harrisburg” (Pennsylvania History 1963), and in Wilbur Sturtevant Nye’s Here Come The Rebels! (1965).

The Battle of Sporting Hill, which was part of the Gettysburg Campaign, took place on June 30, 1863 in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania between elements of the 16th Virginia Calvary Regiment and two New York Militia Regiments. The Confederate forces at Sporting Hill served as a rearguard for General Albert G. Jenkins, whose brigade was stationed several miles away in Mechanicsburg. Early on June 30, however, Jenkins moved out after he received General Robert E. Lee’s order to regroup at Gettysburg. The 22nd and 37th New York Militia Regiments, which were under the overall command of General Darius N. Couch, were out on reconnaissance when they engaged Jenkins’ rearguard. (Union General William F. Smith had ordered a patrol once he realized that Confederates were withdrawing from the area). As John Lockwood recalled, the two New York regiments were:

“ordered out to reconnoiter. Expecting to return in course of the day left everything behind except arms and ammunition and thus passed through rest of campaign! They moved along the Carlisle road to ‘Sporting Hill’ where had a skirmish.”

Union forces forced Confederates to withdraw after they brought in a detachment from Landis’ Philadelphia Battery of Light Artillery, but they were unable to pursue them. Reports indicated that approximately sixteen soldiers died during the engagement. A historical marker is located at the intersection of 31st Street and Market Streets in Camp Hill. You can read more about this battle in an essay on ExplorePAhistory.com, Robert Grant Crist’s article “Highwater 1863: The Confederate Approach to Harrisburg” (Pennsylvania History 1963), and in Wilbur Sturtevant Nye’s Here Come The Rebels! (1965).

The Rupp House in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania served as the headquarters for Confederate General Albert G. Jenkins’ brigade during the Gettysburg campaign in late June 1863. On June 28 Jenkins’ troops captured Mechanicsburg without encountering any resistance. Two days later, however, Jenkins received General Robert E. Lee’s order to regroup at Gettysburg. As Jenkins’ brigade left on June 30, his rearguard became involved in the Battle of Sporting Hill. The Rupp House was built in 1787 by Jonas Rupp. His grandson’s family owned the house in 1863 and they remained in Lancaster, Pennsylvania while the Confederates were in Mechanicsburg. The Rupp House is at 5115 East Trindle Road, but it is currently not open to the public.

You can learn more in an essay on ExplorePAhistory.com, Robert Grant Crist’s article “Highwater 1863: The Confederate Approach to Harrisburg” (Pennsylvania History 1963), and in Wilbur Sturtevant Nye’s Here Come The Rebels! (1965).

Image courtesy of Flickr user cthoyes.

During the Election of 1860, the divided feelings did not stop the election of a new president. The election had several candidates, but the contest was actually between Douglas and Lincoln in the North and West and between Breckinridge and Bell in the South. Many thought the race would be very competitive, but Lincoln ended up dominating. In Cumberland County, Lincoln had an overwhelming victory.  The more rural areas such as Hopewell and Fairfield that were mainly farmers, Lincoln won in a significant majority. In urban areas such as the Carlisle District and Newville, the race between the Republicans and Democrats was closer. The chart below gives the reported majority from the different districts in the county. The first column gives the total votes for Lincoln in the district. The second column shows the total of votes for Read, who is the elector for the districts. The third column gives the total votes for Bell, only prevalent in the more urban districts. Most of the rural districts only have votes for Lincoln, allowing him to have no competition in rural areas of Pennsylvania.

 Districts     Lincoln. Read’s Ticket Bell.
Carlisle Distict     886 907 74
Newville     453 570 21
Upper Allen     33    
Lower Allen     103    
East Pennsboro     96    
Plainfield     83   1
Penn Town     14    
Hampden     19    
Hopewell     20    
Mechanisburg     130    
North Cumberland     32    
Monroe     117    
Shippensburg District     70    
Leesburg     27    
Jacksonville       22  
Middlesex       3  
Silver Spring       169  
           
           
TOTAL:     2083 1671 96
           

(Carlisle American, 7 November 1860.)

In the race for Governor, the majority of people in Pennsylvania voted for Andrew Gregg Curtin, a former Dickinsonian, in the election. This proved that the state had gone Republican by not less than 75, 000 Republicans state wide.  Cumberland County followed the Pennsylvania results, as Lincoln/Hamlin received 40 percent of the popular vote.

Nationally, Lincoln received a total of 180 electoral votes, while the other candidates combined won 123.  Breckinridge thought that he had some support in Pennsylvania, but Cumberland County did not support this assertion.  

The Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana from the Library of Congress provides images from the election such as political cartoons, newspaper articles, candidate’s addresses and Republican and Democrat tickets.  The Library of Congress has a great teacher resource on the Election of 1860. HarpWeek also provides cartoons from the election from Harper’s Weekly and other weekly journals. The