Hunterstown ...Then and Now

North Cavalry Battlefield

July 2, 1863

 Gettysburg Campaign 




Civil War Battlefields - James O. Phelps - Panoramics

360* Panoramics @ Gallery 30, Gettysburg, PA


In Memory of Those who Fought and Died

for Our Freedom.

"These Dead Shall Not Have Died in Vain."

       ~  President  Lincoln  ~

RT 394 & Hunterstown Road
New Custer Memorial, dedicated July 2, 2008

"We stopped at the new Hunterstown Memorial to General Custer and the Battle of Hunterstown.
I must say I had never heard of the battle before.
I now believe this highly overlooked battle was a major part
of the reason the Union held on to victory during that hard fought 2nd day.
Another 2100 rebel troops attacking East Cemetary Ridge surely would have turned the tide
and the day would have belonged to the Confederacy!
I shudder to think what America would be like today
if the Battle of Huntertsown had not been fought."
 ~ Harold D. Sausser, July 6, 2013

Co-Founders: Roger & Laurie Harding

In Memory of artist Anne Leslie 
who designed the silouettes,
And also to Bob McIlhenny for the  banner,
Logo Design: Troy Harman NPS

"Too often, places that matter to us can be lost in a heartbeat — sometimes even before we realize they will be missed.

 The best way to save a place that matters is to call attention to it and value it before it is endangered."

National Trust for Historic Places

Battlefield Panoramics - James O. Phelps

The Felty Farm/ North Cavalry Battlefield
by Edwin L. Green, Williamsburg, VA.


"General George Armstrong Custer is an unsung hero of the Battle of Gettysburg, for without his gallant charges, the Confederates would have broken through the Union resistance. Critics often cite his high casualty rate in the battle as poor performance. General Custer knew the Rebel advance had to be stopped at all costs. He didn’t order his men into a known high casualty fight. He LED them. I wonder how many armchair quarterbacks would have changed seats with him?"

"CusterLives!" Website Quote

“The [Civil] war “proved Custer was simply the greatest cavalry tactician of the Union Army,
perhaps the greatest of either army North or South.
The fame and rewards he gained were more than earned by not just his boldness and courage but his military acuity.”


Stephen Budiansky



Unveiled by GBC&VB on 7/2/09
Located at The Historic Tate Farm


Shown in picture:

Background ...Steve Alexander as Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer, Michigan Wolverines, John Volhken, & Dan Dunn

Author, Frank Meredith, GBC&VB's Norris Flowers, Authors, J D Petruzzi, Mike Nugent, & Steve Stanley,

Artist, Jared Frederick,  GNP Ranger, Troy Harman

Actors & Living Historians, Mrs. Julia Dent Grant with General Ulysses S. Grant, 

Lenwood Sloan & PA Museum's Living Historians


Our Thanks to Bob McIlhenny & Fred Kammerer!
~ 2013 ~

Did You Know...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hunterstown, formerly called Woodstock,
is one of the oldest towns in the country.
It was settled in the mid 1700's by David Hunter,
a Revolutionary War soldier,
for whom the town was named.
In fact, because he had been training militia here in Hunterstown,
Lord Dunmore, Govenor of the colonies
in Williamsburg, put a bounty on David Hunter's head,
"dead or alive"...
To this very day, no one knows where David Hunter is buried.

Click here to

Hunterstown, Pennsylvania

July 2, 1863
Known by historians as
"North Cavalry Field,"
Hunterstown was recently recognized by
the National Parks Service (Sept. '06) as part of the Gettysburg Campaign.
Unfortunately, the site is
extremely vulnerable
to development and is still unprotected.

"And though Hunterstown is a new addition (2006), Lawhon said there is still work to do to help preserve

the land within the boundaries of the Gettysburg National Military Park."        


... Evening Sun quote 

Battle History...

Will Hutchison's Thoughts ....

Books on the Battle of Hunterstown...

Michigan Cavalry & George Armstrong Custer


"A major Alton (Illinois) developer, Charles Hunter, was one of Alton's best known Underground Railroad conductors.

His Hunterstown area, founded in the 1830's, had many free Blacks as residents, some of whom were escaped slaves.

He was also the only landowner who allowed Elijah Lovejoy to live on his property. "

To





National Trust's "This Place Matters"
Members of Hunterstown Historical Society/Tate Farm

To View the Historic Village of Hunterstown...

Mrs. Linda Cleveland
HHS 2010 "Historian of the Year"


"A small but significantly Historical Village"

Hunterstown, Pennsylvania is located on Route 394 one mile east of the Hunterstown Exchange of Route U.S. 15 North of Gettysburg.

After the American Indians made their trade routes west of the Susquehanna River through this area, immigrants started to settle along their trails. Many were Scotch-Irish. The Penn proprietors of the land through this area, which is now Hunterstown, granted Michael Drumgold a warrant for 100 acres on June 8, 1749. In October the same year surveyor Thomas Cookson laid out a total of 182 acres for Drumgold. It was on October 8, 1760 Michael and Margaret Drumgold sold this land to David Hunter. On March 14, 1764 the Penn heirs awarded Hunter a patent deed for the 182 acres granting him the full and complete title he desired to establish a village.

On April 2, 1764 David Hunter gave William Galbreath a deed for the first lot "situate in the town of "Straban" as it was called then. Later it was referred to as "Woodstock". As lots were sold, small log homes were built. Later weather-board and brick dwellings appeared.

As the year 1800 was drawing nigh the village was appropriately named after its founder and called Hunterstown. A county seat was being sought for the new county of Adams and Hunterstown vied for that status. It was centrally located as far as population in the county and it was located on "The Great Road" from York to Pittsburgh by the way of "Black’s Gap". The town of Gettysburg received the final honor as County Seat.

One special landmark in Hunterstown is the Historic Tate Farm and Blacksmith Shop. In October 1794 President George Washington had the occasion to stop here. Because of the taxation put on liquor, many in western Pennsylvania were rebelling and decided they were not going to abide by the law. President Washington called up troops from four states and he himself went by carriage and horseback to review the troops, 15,000 strong, in Carlisle and Bedford and planned how they were to quell what was called the Whiskey Rebellion. This was accomplished without any major fight. On returning to Philadelphia, the capitol at that time, a horse in the President’s party threw a shoe and they stopped in Hunterstown at the Tate Farm blacksmith shop near Beaver Dam Creek to have it shod.

Just fields away from the Tate Farm is the Felty and Gilbert Farms where Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer’s Cavalry under the direction of Brigadier General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick met in battle with General Wade Hampton’s Division of J.E.B. Stuart’s Cavalry on July 2, 1863. This battle, now referred to as North Cavalry Field, is viewed as having a significant bearing on the remainder of the Battle of Gettysburg. Here Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer set a "trap" for the enemy in which he narrowly escaped losing his own life. Kilpatrick reported 32 dead and wounded of his division of some 3,500. The confederates suffered around 100 casualties in the fighting of 2,000 involved.

In the center of Hunterstown is the Grass Hotel built before the Civil War. The hotel served as temporary Union headquarters for Brig. General Judson Kilpatrick during the battle of Hunterstown and afterwards served as a hospital for the north and south. A number of officers died here.

The Great Conewago Presbyterian Church was organized in 1740. They met in a log structure until a fieldstone church was built in 1787. It is still in use today. It also served as a hospital during the Civil War. The adjacent cemetery contains gravesites of Revolutionary War soldiers and Civil War veterans along with generations of local inhabitants.

In 1885 the Galloway Brothers opened a copper mine just north of the village. After several years it closed and the township used the copper/gold bearing rock for the streets and roads. So they claimed "the roads were paved in gold." The mine was opened once again by the Reliance Mining and Milling Company of Arizona in 1905. Although it was not hugely successful it employed 20 local men working "around the clock." The mine was abandoned in 1916.

Through the 19th and 20th century the village had a two-room country school and a Methodist Church on the main street, both are still existing but not used today.

Among the early inhabitants of the village were a doctor, undertaker, watchmaker, shoemaker, carpenter, tailor, and wagon maker. During the 1830’s John C. Studebaker, a blacksmith, and his skilled employees built conestoga-type wagons in a shop between Hunterstown and Heidlersburg. He ventured to Ohio and then to South Bend Indiana to have the largest company for manufacturing wagons and carriages and later through his descendants the Studebaker automobile.

Over the years Hunterstown had many small country stores, a post office, creamery, fruit-packing house, millinery shop, gun club and horse race track. As many as ten families made chairs as early as 1830’s into the early 1900’s. It once had a military guard unit and a baseball team. The village currently has two churches, a dog kennel and grooming establishment, a horse-boarding farm with lesson programs, a childcare center, a tea room, go-cart track, car body shop, transmission shop, and vintage car shop.

Hunterstown, population 100, a village rich in history where the desire of its people is to restore and preserve what it now has to share with others. Here you can’t help but feel the heart beat of the past and imagine those who walked and rode these once dusty roads. You may hear the distant toll of the school bell, the happy sounds of children at play or music from the old church pump organ. You may hear the hoof beats of the cavalry approaching or the sound of the artillery that echoed over the village. Memories linger of the mournful groans of the injured and dying in the fields and makeshift hospitals and the prayers of the faithful as they gave their last full measure here.Hunterstown, Pennsylvania – A quaint little village with

A story to tell!

Linda K. Cleveland

Straban Historical Reflections

Historian – Hunterstown Historical Society

Revised - 2009

Local and National Contacts...

Civil War Preservation Trust

Congressman Scott Perry

State Representative
Dan Moul

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Edwin L. Green, Artist from Williamsburg, VA, Shares His Thoughts....

"This Spring I have been doing a series of watercolors in Hunterstown, PA. In an effort to save the town from wanton development, the local historical society ( has been trying to draw attention to the important but little known role that Hunterstown played in the Battle of Gettysburg. At this juncture, I have done paintings of nearly every Civil War era building in the town (vide Hunterstown Prints). Several of these buildings are immediately at risk of destruction or of such radical modification that their historical value would be severely compromised. Only last year a farmer tore down a barn that hid Custer's troops in his ploy to ambush Hampton's cavalry on the second day of the Gettysburg Campaign. Hunterstown has existed since Colonial times: Indians traded with early settlers along Beaver Dam Creek there, George Washington stopped to have his horse shod at the Tate Farm blacksmith shop, people have worshipped at the Great Conewago Presbyterian Church site since before the stone church was completed in1784. The watercolors are an effort to show what of the Civil War or older is extant at the present day and to demonstrate the town's importance as an historic relic. It is a shame to allow the shortsightedness and greed of a few to destroy a heritage which once lost can never be recovered. Hunterstown truly has much the same potential for restoration as Colonial Williamsburg did; would that another John D. Rockefeller Jr. could be found."

1:32 am edt          Comments


In relpy, Troy Harman made the following remarks:
"Good material Chuck!  The reservation that historians have had all along
with preserving Hunterstown is that it was not directly related to the
general battle in Gettysburg.  Words are powerful weapons of course,
and as long as the fight in Hunterstown is viewed as a
"meeting engagement" (unintentional), then preservation is secondary
as far as the park can be concerned.  The intellectual justification
for Hunterstown's preservation then lies in proving that it was "integral" to the general battle. 
Your new information shows that integrity."

11:10 pm edt          Comments

Could this mean a new
The following thoughts were written by Chuck Teague, President of Historic Gettysburg of Adams County and posted at "militaryhistoryonline"...

"Ranger Troy Harman and LBG Mike Vallone stirred up some controversy a couple years ago when they speculated that Custer's foray from Hunterstown into the left rear of the Confederates was not accidental but part of a larger tactical plan to thwart Rebel action.

For those not familiar with this action, at about
4:30 pm
on July 2 Custer led a brigade with horse artillery south from Hunterstown that struck at the rear of a column of Wade Hampton's brigade. Some of us are calling this area "North Cavalry Field" to connect it with the larger battle. (To read Troy's battle account, Click the "Battle History" Tab)

Today I came across a message in an out-of-print book by David F. Riggs in which he quotes a rather dramatic message:

4 P.M.
July 2
Ewell is knocking the hell out of Howard on Culp's Hill. If H cannot hold ground, we are flanked. Cut E's communications; harass his rear; at all hazards relieve pressure on H.

Now some of this doesn't make sense, particularly since Howard was not on Culp's Hill (Slocum was). According to Ewell, "about
5 p.m., when General Longstreet's guns opened, General Johnson commenced a heavy cannonade... against the Cemetery Hill." Howard was on Cemetery Hill, and it is generally agreed that Longstreet's guns opened around 4:00, not 5:00. Major Osborn, commanding Howard's artillery, reported that "at the time the heavy attack was made on the extreme left of our line, the firing was especially severe, and especially on the [Cemetery] hill. They engaged the greater portion of our whole line, and from both the right and the left of the town much of the fire was concentrated on our position."

How quickly could word be transmitted to Pleasonton to Kilpatrick and then to Custer? I would have thought it would take some time, but the Union signal corps did a fine job during most of the battle and perhaps it was done promptly.

Kilpatrick reported "Received orders from headquarters Cavalry Corps, through Brigadier-General Gregg, to move over to the road leading from
Gettysburg to Abbotstown, and see that the enemy did not turn our flank." That OR report fits nicely with this message and seems to confirm it. Kilpatrick went on to say "Was attacked by Stuart, Hampton, and Lee at sundown near Hunterstown." Since sundown was about 7:30, that suggests that the fight at Hunterstown may have occurred a bit later than the commonly supposed 4:30

This is certainly something to chew on, but it sure seems to me likely that Custer was not simply "out there patrolling" and just happened upon elements of the enemy forces. And it is also evidence that cavalry action between Custer and Stuart was integrally related to the larger battle and not isolated from it. My thoughts, anyway."

11:00 pm edt          Comments

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