Weekend will be full with Skirmish on the Square

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot
In June 1863, Confederate troops invaded Pennsylvania via Antrim Township, along today¹s U.S. Route 11, just prior to the Gettysburg Campaign. They continued north, entering the small town of Greencastle by way of South Carlisle Street, along which the Cumberland Valley Railroad ran. On July 2,
1863, Col. Ulric Dahlgren and his ³special ops² men secreted themselves in the southeast corner of the square and lay in wait for a group of Confederates as they entered the square from South Carlisle Street. Gunfire erupted and a skirmish of several minutes ensued, with the Union soldiers becoming the victors. Confiscated from a valise was a message from the high command in Richmond to Gen. Robert E. Lee, informing him that no more troops would be sent to back him up at Gettysburg. Instead of Lee reading the message, it was in the hands of Gen. Meade by late evening of the same day. Was the skirmish on the square in Greencastle and the captured message meant for Lee the impetus behind the turning point in the Battle of Gettysburg?

April 12, 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil

War.  To commemorate this historic milestone in American history,

Pennsylvania is commencing its five-year observance with four successive

weekends of events beginning April 7 ­ 10 in Greencastle-Antrim with

³Skirmish on the Square.² A laser-light show will re-create ³The Burning of

Chambersburg² the following weekend, April 15 and 16.  On April 22 and 23, a

cavalry battle ³Protecting the Gap² will be re-enacted in Fairfield. The

finale of the four-weekend event will take place on April 29 and 30 in

Gettysburg, ³A Town in Turmoil.²

 Greencastle-Antrim kicks off its events with a presentation by John Miller

about the Battle of Monterey Pass, a little-known but second largest Civil

War battle fought on Pennsylvania soil. The battle spanned two counties,

Adams and Franklin, in Pennsylvania, and two counties in Maryland ­

Washington and Frederick.  Miller will begin his presentation at 7 p.m. at

Evangelical Lutheran Church, 130 N. Washington Street.  The meeting is

sponsored by Allison-Antrim Museum, Inc.

 The official opening ceremony and reception will be held on Friday evening,

April 8 in the German bank barn on the property of Allison-Antrim Museum,

365 S. Ridge Ave. The reception, Meet the Generals, opens to the public at 7

p.m.  At 8 p.m, a PowerPoint presentation ³War Comes to Franklin County,²

written by Ted Alexander, chief historian at Antietam National Battlefield,

will begin in the auditorium of Greencastle-Antrim High School. The

Greencastle Alumni Band will perform Civil Wa-era songs as an accompaniment

to the PowerPoint.

 Re-enactment groups participating during the weekend include Washington

District Signal Corps, Sharpsburg Army Hospital, 1st New York Light

Artillery, 8th MD Infantry, Pinkerton¹s Agency, 142nd PA Infantry, Dixie

Rose Relief Society, and the 46th PA Brass Band.  Encampment will be on

museum property. 

 Highlights during the weekend include the Col. Ulric Dahlgren incident on

the southeast corner of the square.  On July 2, 1863, Dahlgren with a small

band of about 10 men ambushed Confederate troops as they entered the square

from South Carlisle Street.  A valise carrying an important message for Gen.

Lee was confiscated and delivered that evening to Gen. Meade.  Lee never

learned that President Davis was unable to send more troops as backup during

the Battle of Gettysburg.

 The Dolly Harris and Gen. Pickett incident will be re-created at 4 p.m. on

Saturday afternoon on North Carlisle Street in front of the place where her

home stood during the Civil War.  Dolly defied Pickett and his men by

calling them traitors and waving a Union flag, which was wrapped around her

waist as an apron.  Pickett quelled a street rebellion by standing in his

stirrups and saluting Dolly and saluting the Union flag, because he was a

West Point graduate.

 Gen. Ewell entered the mercantile establishment on the northeast corner of

the square, which was owned by George W. and David Ziegler.  Ewell and his

men helped themselves to whatever they wanted from the shelves and left

Ziegler holding a worthless I.O.U. to be paid in Confederate currency.

The weekend concludes on Sunday afternoon, April 10, when a full retreat of

Confederate troops winds its way from the square, east on Baltimore Street,

and then proceeds south on Washington Street to the VFW for closing

ceremonies.  Dates, times, and locations of many more activities during the

weekend such as artillery and cavalry demonstrations, recruitment, medical

team, and ladies aide society activities, book signings with Civil War book

authors, Black history, and lunch with the Generals can be viewed at  and  or

follow the events on Twitter at greencastlemuzm, or call the

Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce at 717-597-4610.