Sunday, June 30, 2013

Confederate Conference

Confederate Conference marker at town square Chambersburg, PAFranklin County, PA

Marker Text: On June 26, 1863, Gen. Robert E. Lee and staff entered this square. After conferring with Gen. A.P. Hill near the middle of the "Diamond," Lee turned eastward and made headquarters at the edge of town.

Location: On the Southwest quadrant of public square in Chambersburg, PA in front of the Presbyterian Church. Erected by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 1953.

  As Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army arrived in Pennsylvania they entered the town of Chambersburg, PA which was a logical destination when traveling north through the Shenandoah Valley. The first Confederate troops to arrive was Confederate General Albert G. Jenkins' cavalry brigade who entered Chambersburg on June 15th. They only stayed briefly expecting the appearance of new Union troops. Jenkins' cavalry returned to Chambersburg on June 24, after the arrival of the infantry division of Robert Rodes and the following day Edward Johnson's brigades also passed through Chambersburg and encamped near Rodes' veterans.

Confederate Conference marker at town square Chambersburg, PA Franklin Co. Courthouse in background

Marker is in front of the Presbyterian Church and the town square is in the background.  Road leading east to Gettysburg is in the background to the right of the courthouse.  Click any photo to enlarge.

  On Friday, June 26, General Richard S. Ewell's two divisions north of town broke camp and headed north up the Cumberland Valley toward Carlisle. About eight o'clock on the morning of June 26, Harry Heth's Division of Lee's Third Corps marched into Chambersburg, turned east in this square, then headed out the Gettysburg road as far as Fayetteville, where the men made camp.

  Later the same morning, Lieutenant General Ambrose Powell (A.P.) Hill, the commander of the Third Corps, rode into the square with his staff, dismounted, and hitched his horse in front of a general store. Some time later, General Robert E. Lee and his staff rode into the square. Seeing their approach, Hill mounted and rode to greet Lee. The two generals then edged away from their staff officers to confer in private.

  Local citizens were very interested in what the two generals were saying to one another. They wanted to report to the Federal authorities any information they might gather about Lee and Hill's meeting and believed telling the authorities which direction Lee continued was important to the war effort.

Confederate Conference marker next to monument on Burning of Chamberburg at town square Chambersburg, PA

Marker is next to monument related to the burning of Chambersburg which occurred a year later.

  When Lee and Hill concluded their conversation, Lee rode to the middle of the square then headed his horse eastward, toward Gettysburg. To this day, no one knows what Lee and Hill discussed in the Chambersburg Square on the morning of June 26, 1863.

  Historians did know later that on June 26th Lee had not yet decided to move his Army of Northern Virginia east to Gettysburg, and to the great battle that would take place there in a few days. At the time of this conference, General Lee had no firm information on the location of the Union Army of the Potomac. Much of his own cavalry was off on a raid, and Lee had not yet received word that the Union Army was moving north of the Potomac River and closing rapidly with his own scattered units. The citizens of Chambersburg who saw Lee that day remembered Lee's visit for decades prompting their descendants to leave a permanent commemoration by a state historical marker, placed on their town square on August 10, 1953.

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