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Civil War Blog

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A List of Pennsylvania Civil War Battles, Engagements and Skirmishes

Posted By on July 19, 2012

Anyone who attempts to compile an “official” and “complete” list of Pennsylvania’s Civil War battles, engagements and skirmishes is faced with a daunting task.

There are several, already-compiled lists of Civil War battles, one of which has been previously presented on this blog and worth noting again.  That list is found in the book, Statistical Record of the Armies of the United States, by Frederick Phisterer which can be obtained as a free download from GoogleBooks.

Part II of the book is entitled:  “Chronological Record of Engagements, Battles, etc., in the United States, 1861 to 1865.  Phisterer explains in the opening comments to this section that the list he is presenting is “the completest record in existence at present [1883]”  To a list of engagements that was compiled and produced in The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, Phisterer added some additional engagements that he located in newspapers, Confederate reports and other sources.  He termed these additions “minor engagements” but admitted that critics could still find omissions.

Each battle or engagement in Phisterer’s list is given a number – from #1 (Fort Sumter, South Carolina) to #2261, the surrender of Kirby Smith, which occurred on 26 May 1865, and, according to the “list,” was the last engagement of the war.

Within each numbered event, there is a header which names the event (sometimes by location only), the date or dates the event occurred, and a brief description of the Union forces that were involved in the event.  In most cases, the Confederate participants are ignored, leaving the reader to further search in other sources for that information.

The battles, engagements and skirmishes in Pennsylvania that are noted in this listing are worth examining.

The Battle of Gettysburg, #1021 on Phisterer’s list, although considered the greatest battle to ever take place on the North American continent, is presented as one event on an equal par with minor skirmishes, although several engagements surrounding the time frame of the battle are given separate numbers.

A summary of the Pennsylvania battles, engagements and skirmishes as presented by Phisterer is given below:

#989.  Greencastle, Pennsylvania.  20 June 1863.  1st New York Cavalry.

#1003.  McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania.  24 June 1863.  12th Pennsylvania Cavalry.

#1014.  McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania.  29 June 1863.  1st New York Cavalry.

#1017.  Sporting Hill, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  30 June 1863.  22nd New York Militia; 37th New York Militia; Lander’s Battery.

#1018.  Hanover, Pennsylvania.  30 June 1863.  3rd Division Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac.

#1021.  Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  1 July 1863 – 3 July 1863.  1st Corps, Maj.-General J. F. Reynolds; 2nd Corps, Maj.-General W. S. Hancock; 3rd Corps, Maj.-General D. E. Sickles; 5th Corps, Maj.-General George Sykes; 6th Corps, Maj.-General J. Sedgwick; 11th Corps, Maj.-General O. O. Howard; 12th Corps, Maj.-General H. W. Slocum; Cavalry Corps, Maj.-General A. Pleasonton; Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj.-General G. E. Meade; includes Cavalry skirmish at Hunterstown.

#1031.  Fairfield, Pennsylvania.  3 July 1863.  6th U.S. Cavalry.

#1039.  Fairfield, Pennsylvania.  5 July 1863.  Cavalry, Army of the Potomac.

#1814.  Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.  30 July 1864.  Burned by Confederates.

Nearly all the events noted by Phisterer occurred in 1863, with the sole 1864 event noted as the burning of Chambersburg. Of course, the other feature of Phisterer’s list is to separate out the events in which each regiment participated, but that task is made more difficult in that there is no index, though a searchable “pdf” copy would help overcome this problem.

While this post does not attempt to name all the possible Pennsylvania events that could be considered for inclusion in a “complete” list of battles, engagement and skirmishes, several notable omissions need to be mentioned:

As previously discussed on this blog, an event occurred at the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge in June 1863.  The burning of this bridge failed to make Phisterer’s list.  For prior posts, see:  Columbia-Wrightville Bridge – Flames on the Susquehanna. and Naked Man Visits Rebs on Rapidan.

Also failing to make the list was the supposed Confederate excursion into Trevorton Junction (Herndon) occurring around the same time frame.  See:  Did Confederates Enter Trevorton Junction (Herndon) in 1863?

Finally, included in Phisterer’s list are the Draft Riots in New York City, 13 July 1863 to 15 July 1863 (#1066).  Equally important to Pennsylvanians were the draft riots and resistance that occurred a year earlier in and around Pottsville, Schuylkill County, which resulted in the stationing of Pennsylvania troops in that vicinity to keep order.  See:  Opposition to the Draft of 1862.

For those who wish to pursue compiling a “complete” list of all Pennsylvania battles, engagements and skirmishes, the task remains to be accomplished.  Some suggestions for resources to locate many of the minor events include books and other resources which present the war in a “day by day” fashion.  There are also Wikipedia articles which list battles as well as regimental histories which describe events. Some of what will be produced will be speculative in that there will be doubters as to whether the event actually occurred.  Whether any “complete” list that will satisfy everyone will ever be produced is another issue but it’s certainly worth a try.

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For a listing and breakdown of the Union forces at Gettysburg, see:  Pennsylvania Regiments at Gettysburg – Corps and Generals.


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