Target: Hanover Junction
An important railroad intersection linking the Northern Central and Hanover-Gettysburg railways, Hanover Junction contributed to the economic and agricultural prosperity of the surrounding area. It played a significant role in the shipment of commercial and agricultural products during peacetime, and in wartime was equally vital as a communications and military supply hub.
The Confederates targeted Hanover Junction due to both its railroads and its telegraph connections, as the Confederates desired to destroy the logistical support system of the Union Army. The 35th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, reached Hanover Junction on June 27, 1863, and cut telegraph lines and destroyed railroad bridges and track. This disrupted direct communications between Harrisburg and Washington, D.C., and temporarily prevented the Union Army from using this railroad system to provide itself with supplies. By the time the Confederates finished, they had destroyed 19 bridges on the Northern Central between Harrisburg and Hanover Junction, and three between Gettysburg and Hanover Junction.
After the Battle of Gettysburg, damaged bridges were repaired quickly. Approximately 15,580 wounded men were transported from the battlefield and processed through Hanover Junction, and then on to distant hospitals.
President Abraham Lincoln changed railroads here, on his way to and from delivering his Gettysburg Address. On the way back from the Gettysburg address, trains were so backed up waiting to clear the turn table, that one journalist said it took 11 hours to get from Gettysburg to Philadelphia via Hanover Junction -- usually a 4 hour trip.