Shippensburg is rich in history. It was the frontier during the 1750’s. But it also had some activity during the Civil War. The town’s annual commemoration of our Civil War heritage is called March to Destiny. Tho there were no actual battles here, the town was occupied by soldiers from both sides for about a week, just before the battle of Gettysburg. There will be story telling at several times during the March to Destiny week, and the stories of what happened in the town during that time are so interesting to hear and of historical significance.
There was Marshall Law on the streets. People from the town had heard the troops were coming, and had taken horses out of town and up into the mountains miles away so they would not be taken by the soldiers. One tanner hid hides in the bottom of a tank with a false bottom so that they would not be discovered. The Confederate troops in particular were not well provisioned by that time, and needed horses, boots, medicine, food, and other essentials. They came into town to ask for things, and the town residents gave them what they could to avoid conflict. As a result of cooperation, there was no burning and destruction of property here as there was in Chambersburg.
My favorite story involves a lady who was baking bread, and found Confederate soldiers on her front lawn. Knowing that these men were hungry, she offered them bread with apple butter on it. Apple butter is a localized food, and the Confederate soldiers had no idea what it was, and thought that the lady was giving them poison. She ate some of it herself to prove to them that is was not going to hurt them, and then they ate the bread and the apple butter, and were thankful for the food.
Much more information can be found on Shippensburg Historical Society’s Facebook page at:
More information about Shippensburg Historical Society is located on our web page, including a picture of the organization’s home, the historic Stewart House: http://www.shippensburghistory.org/
The March to Destiny involves many events the weekend of June 25th and 26th. The afternoon of the 26th includes a street skirmish, which is the reenactment of a small skirmish that happened here while groups of soldiers from the North and South both were positioned near Shippensburg. Reenactors come from all around for that weekend and camp in town. There are times when you can tour their camps and they are happy to tell you about the Civil War, their reenactment activities, and life as it was in those times. Civil War reenactors are very authentic in their activities.
At 3:00 on Saturday afternoon, they square off downtown with their guns and a few horses, and the two groups of soldiers go together in a skirmish that can be heard all over town. The skirmish is very realistic; the wounded fall, medics go into the street to work on their wounds, and the air fills with black powder smoke. The skirmish is amazing to see! And hear!
All the week leading to that weekend there are activities, so if you’re interested in local history or the Civil War, you should come and visit Shippensburg that week. It’s an exciting week of history in Shippensburg!
The March to Destiny has a wonderful website which includes a full schedule of this year’s activities. http://www.marchtodestiny.org/
March to Destiny also has a Facebook page: