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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Confederate Approach on Harrisburg: the Gettysburg Campaign's Northernmost Reaches by Cooper H Wingert

The Confederate Approach on Harrisburg by Cooper H. Wingert
Reviewed by WC

Publisher:  History Press
Release Date:  November, 2012
Pages:  221

About the Book:  n June 1863, Harrisburg braced for an invasion. The Confederate troops of Lieutenant General Richard S. Ewell steadily moved toward the Pennsylvania capital. Capturing Carlisle en route, Ewell sent forth a brigade of cavalry under Brigadier General Albert Gallatin Jenkins. After occupying Mechanicsburg for two days, Jenkins's troops skirmished with Union militia near Harrisburg. Jenkins then reported back to Ewell that Harrisburg was vulnerable. Ewell, however, received orders from army commander Lee to concentrate southward--toward Gettysburg--immediately. Left in front of Harrisburg, Jenkins had to fight his way out at the Battle of Sporting Hill. The following day, Jeb Stuart's Confederate cavalry made its way to Carlisle and began the infamous shelling of its Union defenders and civilian population. Running out of ammunition and finally making contact with Lee, Stuart also retired south toward Gettysburg. Author Cooper H. Wingert traces the Confederates to the gates of Harrisburg in these northernmost actions of the Gettysburg Campaign.

WC's Review: A passing knowledge of the events leading up to the civil war's most damaging battle for the Southern war of independence won't do here. General Lee's order to capture Harrisburg, given to newly appointed corps commander Richard E Ewell, was a major priority only if it proved demoralizing for the few Yankee defenders of the capital of Pennsylvania under General Darius Couch.

A detailed history of the first true excursion into the deepest regions of the north, this slim volume is an hourly approach to the whereabouts of this division here, that battalion there, and a multitude of brigades everywhere in Bridgeport, now Lemoyne, the lengths of the Carlisle Pike and Trindle Road, and the elevations of Slate and Sporting Hill, culminating in the Confederate advance into Carlisle and the razing of the barracks where the long lost cavalry of JEB Stuart finally shows up.

Of course, the immediate call for all hands to Gettysburg, thirty miles south, saved the day for Governor Curtin, rebellious General Couch, and wounded Lieutenant General James A Beaver, who 24 years later assumed the position as 20th governor of our commonwealth.
A valuable listing of minor players who played significant roles in the horror of our most superfluous war.  

The Author - Cooper H Wingert
Cooper Wingert is a South Central Pennsylvania student who has authored and edited four books on the Gettysburg Campaign, as well as several articles in periodicals such as Gettysburg Magazine. He regularly speaks to area Civil War Round Tables, historical societies and other groups.