Occupation of Mechanicsburg

By mid-June 1863, communities in Cumberland County knew the Confederate Army was approaching. Residents began to flee to relative safety across the Susquehanna River. Freight cars came from Harrisburg to help move goods out of reach of the Rebels. On June 28, two Confederate scouts on horseback arrived at the home of Burgess George Hummel. Threatened with bombardment, Hummel had no choice but to surrender the town. Between 700 and 800 cavalrymen soon rode through Mechanicsburg's streets, encamping a mile east. Their commanding officer, Brigadier General Albert Jenkins, demanded that the townspeople deliver 1,500 rations to the town hall within 90 minutes. Mechanicsburg residents provided the food, for which they received Confederate scrip.

During their two-day occupation, the Confederates tore up railroad tracks and skirmished with Federals just east of town. Jenkins had captured Mechanicsburg to reconnoiter the approaches to the state capital just eight miles away. Jenkins and his superior, Lieutenant General Richard Ewell, hoped to capture Harrisburg, but before they could act on those plans General Robert E. Lee ordered his troops to concentrate near Gettysburg. Mechanicsburg, free once more, went down in history as the northernmost town to surrender formally to the Confederacy.