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Sunday, January 24, 2010

June 23, 1863 Cashtown bushwacking

This Friday, I have scheduled my first trip to Gettysburg of the new year. I have been working, for the past several weeks, on the script for what will be the audio supplement to my latest book (with Steve Stanley), The Complete Gettysburg Guide. I need to make a trip to Gettysburg to lay out a detailed driving tour for a tour that will be included in the audio supplement - the June 23 bushwacking incident in the Cashtown Pass west of Gettysburg. This event is discussed briefly in the book, but there was unfortunately no room to include a tour of it. There has never been a tour published of the event, but friend and Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Gary Kross discussed it in a past issue of Blue&Gray Magazine (it's a great piece, but a few of the details of the incident are incorrect).

The bushwacking incident is one of those extremely obscure, little-known events of the Gettysburg Campaign. On June 23, a week prior to the battle, a company of the 14th Virginia Cavalry was conducting "reconnaissance" activities in the area of Caledonia. Many of the southern cavalry in Brig. Gen. Albert G. Jenkins' brigade had been scouting, taking horses and mules, and many other provisions, all around the Chambersburg area since entering Pennsylvania a few days prior. After taking a few dozen horses and mules in the Caledonia area, the Virginia cavalrymen continued east toward the Cashtown Pass.

Just as they reach a set of thick woods at the pass, the Virginians saw a roadblock of trees and other debris. After charging and scattering some Home Guard militia and cavalry stationed there, the Virginians cleared the road and pressed on toward Cashtown. They didn't get very far, however, before a shotgun blast came out of the brush alongside the road, and one of the Virginians in the lead, Pvt. Eli Amick, caught lead in his abdomen and yelled, "I'm shot!"

Amick, a 42 year-old veteran of the Mexican War, was taken back to the Greenwood area (a few miles east of Chambersburg), where he soon died. Amick, then, was the first Confederate to be killed during the campaign so close to Gettysburg (but not the first in Pennsylvania). According to local story, a Cashtown-area resident, Henry Hahn, was the ringleader of a small group of men who waited to ambush the Confederates along the road, and was the self-admitted trigger-puller after the war. Ironically, Amick was known among the Federal food-chain as a "notorious guerilla and bushwacker" himself.

Especially since Amick suffered the distinction of being the first southerner killed so close to Gettysburg during the campaign, I have long found this episode very interesting. I've been collecting every bit of information I could find on it. It will be fun including the first-ever detailed tour of this incident in the audio supplement, and this Saturday I will be shooting the mileages and spots for the tour. The very historic corridor along old Route 30 west of Gettysburg to Cashtown is chock-full of historic sites and things to see, and I'm looking forward to this road trip.

3 comments:

  1. I thought the two dead Rebs in McConnellsburg predated the bushwhacking???

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  2. Good catch Scott - thanks! I fixed the post to read (as I correctly have it in the book) that Amick was the first to be killed so close to Gettysburg - but not the first in PA. That was a bit of a brain fart as I was writing the post :) - I was also thinking of the 1st NY (Lincoln) Cavalry's Cpt. William Rihl as I was writing, who was the first Federal to die north of Mason-Dixon during the campaign... and the incorrect statement about Amick slipped in...

    J.D.

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  3. As much as I like the winter, I hope you have a nice trip JD. If there open, take in a meal at General Pickett's buffet. Awesome place to eat.

    Tim C

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