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Editor's Voice: Middletown didn't sit idly by as Lee moved north

Posted 7/2/13

As the Confederate Army marched toward Gettysburg in its failed attempt to capture Harrisburg, Middletown did not sit idly by.

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Editor's Voice: Middletown didn't sit idly by as Lee moved north

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More than 400 residents joined the Union military, including 17 African-Americans who joined the Colored Regiments. And as the Confederates moved into Gettysburg, Middletowners formed a Home Guard to protect the borough.

Certainly, it was naive of them to believe that a few hundred men and guns could turn back the Confederate Army, but their desire to defend Middletown trumped the situation. “A more courageous and enthusiastic set of men than this company represents never shouldered a musket,’’ raved the Dauphin Journal, a forerunner of the Press And Journal, in 1863, “and although a number are quite young, their hearts are brimful of patriotism, and they are the right kind of boys to make the rebels howl.’’

On the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, it’s fitting for Middletown and surrounding municipalities to reflect on their role during the famous Confederate invasion.

The Union, fearing the Confederates would do an end-around and sweep up from the South through Middletown, had drawn a line in the sand in its defense of Harrisburg – and that line went right through Highspire.

The 68th New York State National Guard infantry regiment was sent to Highspire with these instructions:  "In no event must an enemy cross.’’

In Middletown, those 400 residents who joined the Union military represented about one-sixth of the town, which had a population of about 2,400 at the time. They went to Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, bringing with them 240 guns and 9,000 rounds of ammunition.

Twenty-one Middletowners died in the Civil War. Many are buried in the Middletown area, including several at Middletown Cemetery.

Middletown’s response to the charging Confederate Army is stirring, a piece of history that should not be forgotten. Indeed, local historians have captured that history in books.

In this edition of the Press And Journal, we repeat it in a story on A1 by reporter Daniel Walmer. It seems particularly fitting, with the ceremonies in Gettysburg this week, that we remember our history, celebrate our past, and relish the passion our ancestors had for our town.


 

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