Living History Vignettes
(from the event program)
Thousands of Confederate and Union soldiers passed through the important crossroads at Union Mills in the days prior to Gettysburg. The family that lived there was divided in its loyalties, one brother and his family supported the North, the other the South. Both armies camped at Union Mills, one on June 29, the other on June 30.
"Citizen Meets Soldier" is a living history of the interactions between the Shriver family and the residents of Union Mills, with the soldiers of the Civil War. Walk in the footsteps of citizens and soldiers through our living history on the location where the Confederate and Union armies rested, but never met.
Confederate Day, June 29, 2013
Union Day, June 30, 2013
On the afternoon of June 29, 1863, a fierce cavalry battle erupted on the streets of Westminster, Maryland. A column of thousands of Confederate Cavalry under the command of Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, accompanied by two batteries of horse artillery, had splashed across the Potomac River the day before, in an attempt to circle around the Union Army. As General Robert E. Lee and the rest of the Confederate Army marched across Western Maryland into Pennsylvania, Stuart and his Confederate Cavalry rode into Westminster on the Washington Road.
In Westminster, the Confederates encountered a stubborn resistance from 108 troopers from the 1st Delaware Cavalry, under the command of Capt. Charles Corbit. Corbit and his men fought with "an almost suicidal bravery," initially pushing back the rebel column. The battle surged back and forth, but Corbit's Cavalrymen were eventually overwhelmed by the much larger number of Confederates. Corbit was captured and his unit sustained over 50% casualties (killed, wounded, or captured). The Battle of Westminster, also known as Corbit's Charge, was one factor in Stuart's delayed arrival at Lee's Headquarters late on July 2, 1863, after the Battle of Gettysburg was joined, perhaps altering the outcome of what was to become the pivotal battle of the Civil War.
In the aftermath of the fighting in Westminster, the weary Confederate Cavalry rode north to Union Mills, located at an important crossroads between Westminster and Gettysburg. Here, two brothers lived on either side of the Littlestown Pike - divided not just by the road, but by the war itself. One brother supported the North, the other the South. In Union Mills, the Confederates rested for the night along the Big Pipe Creek, while their horses grazed in the lush fields nearby. That night, Brig. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee rested under an apple tree in A. K. Shriver's orchard, as the Cavalrymen were fed from the home's kitchen. The next morning, June 30, 1863, Stuart and his officers were treated to as fine a meal as the southern-sympathizing William Shriver family could muster. Later in the morning, Stuart and his Cavalry departed Union Mills, led to Hanover, Pennsylvania by William Shriver's son, T. Herbert.
Within a matter of hours, another column of soldiers arrived in Union Mills, this time the Union V Corps, under the command of Maj. Gen. George Sykes. Brig. Gen. James Barnes, a division commander, made the A. K. Shriver Homestead his headquarters, and slept in the old Homestead that night. Gen. Barnes and his officers were entertained in the Homestead's Dance Parlor that evening. The next morning, on July 1, 1863, the Union Army broke camp and marched away from Union Mills to their destiny on the fields of Gettysburg. Among the units in Barnes' 1st Division that camped in the Union Mills area was the 20th Maine, under Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. In just a few days, Chamberlain and his unit would achieve fame on the slopes of Little Round Top.
- Tom LeGore
© 2013 Union Mills Homestead Foundation, Inc.
last updated 07/08/2014