Sporting Hill marked end of Harrisburg invasion

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The Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia under General Richard Ewell left the Carlisle area on June 30, 1863 to march to what would become the Battle of Gettysburg, but Confederate soldiers who fought in a skirmish at Oyster's Point the previous day were left behind.

General Albert Gallatin Jenkins waited near Mechanicsburg, unaware that General Robert E. Lee had changed his plans to invade Harrisburg and decided instead to gather his army at Gettysburg.

“Whether Ewell sent a courier and the courier never got there, or whether Ewell just plain forgot, it's clear that Jenkins on the morning of June 30th expected Ewell to come up from Carlisle,” historian and author Cooper Wingert said.

One person who had learned of Ewell's departure was General Darius Couch, commander of Union forces in central Pennsylvania.

“So General Couch will send a column of roughly 1,200 Union soldiers out of Harrisburg to what is Sporting Hill, roughly five-and-a-half miles out of Harrisburg, and there will occur the Battle of Sporting Hill in the late afternoon, early evening hours of June 30th,” Wingert said.

Jenkins and his men eventually headed for Gettysburg, and with them went the last Confederate hopes of capturing Harrisburg. The Battle of Sporting Hill marked the northernmost engagement of the Gettysburg Campaign.

“And in the immediate West Shore area, the most casualties of all,” Wingert said. “There are roughly 15 Confederates killed during the engagement, 20-30 wounded, a number of unmarked graves are found on the way back between Mechanicsburg and Carlisle, some were buried along the roadside, and roughly a dozen Union soldiers wounded.”

 

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