Battle of Gettysburg - Skirmish at Hanover

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The fighting at Hanover, Pennsylvania on 30 June, 1863 is often overlooked as a mere footnote in history when compared with the much larger battle that took place at Gettysburg the next day. Yet without this skirmish the American Civil War Battle Gettysburg might have had a much different outcome.

Confederate General JEB Stuart's cavalry was riding north through Pennsylvania in an attempt to rejoin General Robert E Lee's main army which was to the west. However the entire Union army was between Lee and Stuart.

So Stuart decided to force the issue and drive through the Federal troops at the southern York County town of Hanover. His men struck the rear of a column of Union troops under the command of General Judson Kilpatrick. With the element of surprise, the Confederates had the Federal troops on the run until reinforcements under the command of General Elon Farnsworth arrived.

Heavy fighting was concentrated in the center of town, with both sides counterattacking until it was obvious that a stalemate was developing. Toward sunset, the Confederates again turned northward in their effort to get around the Union forces between them and Lee's army.

It would take Stuart two more days to reach Lee's army outside of Gettysburg - a town a mere 20 miles to the west of Hanover. While total losses amounted to only 330 killed, tactically the skirmish can be considered a Union victory as it kept the Confederate cavalry out of the Battle of Gettysburg until late in the battle's second day.

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