Captain Ulric Dahlgren and the famous "Dahlgren Incident" in Greencastle, PA
On Thursday, July 2, 1863, Capt. Ulric Dahlgren, Union cavalry, with a small contingent of 10 men, secreted themselves in the southeast corner of the square and lay in wait for a group of Confederates as they entered the square from South Carlisle Street. Gunfire erupted and a skirmish of several minutes ensued with the Union soldiers becoming the victors. Confiscated from a valise was a message from the high command in Richmond to Gen. Robert E. Lee, informing him that no more troops would be sent to back him up at Gettysburg. Instead of Lee reading the message, it was in the hands of Gen. Meade by late evening of the same day. Was the skirmish on the square in Greencastle and the captured message meant for Lee the impetus behind the turning point in the Battle of Gettysburg?
Dahlgren and his men returned two days later on Saturday, July 4. On that Independence Day, he again tried unsuccessfully to capture more secret messages from the Confederates, but they did capture three Confederates.
Capt. Ulric Dahlgren was considered by the people of Greencastle to be their “hero!” He and his men were the first Union soldiers they had seen in weeks, during the invasion of their homes, farms, and town by thousands of men in their gray and butternut uniforms. Dahlgren was honored by the town of Greencastle, by naming one of its streets in the southern part of town after him.
Dahgren is standing in picture below.
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