Jenkins’ Cavalry Raid through Northwestern York County: Part 5

maple shade barn.jpg
The Maple Shade barn on the old Harrisburg Pike in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, serves as the headquarters, meeting room, and gift shop for the local historical society. On June 28-29, 1863, Confederate raiders were in this vicinity, and on July 1, Wade Hampton’s brigade camped on this farm.
An 8-year-old girl named Anna Mumper was an eyewitness to the exciting events in the Civil War when the Rebels came through Carroll Township in June and July of 1863. Her account, written when she was an elderly lady, is fascinating albeit heavily colored by time and dimming of memory (and the mixing up of the various raids, events, timeline, and officers). Still, much of her basic recollections corroborate other earlier accounts of events in Dillsburg (that brief account can be purchased at the NYCHAPS gift shop in the Maple Shade Barn).
Of particular interest is her rather colorful account of the Jenkins Raid of June 28-29, 1863…
Here is one anecdote with its genesis from the Anna Mumper account, with historical facts added from my research…


A battalion of the 16th Virginia Cavalry entered the Dillsburg area on Sunday, June 28, 1863. Commanded by Major James H. Nounnan of Wayne County, Virginia (now West Virginia), the battalion split up into smaller foraging parties and scoured the region for good horses that could be pressed into service to replace played out mounts. More than a dozen farmers in the region later filed state border claims for lost horses to this patrol. One of the patrols encountered the remnants of the 26th PVM on a hilltop camp between Franklintown and Dillsburg.
The Anna Mumper account tells the story of Willie Caldwell, a twelve-year-old boy who was among a group of some forty refugees from Shippensburg who had made their way to Dillsburg as they took their horses to safety in the wake of the advance of Lt. General Richard S. Ewell‘s advance through the Cumberland Valley toward Carlisle. Some of the men knew Anna’s father, Micheal Mumper, and asked to stay at the farm overnight. Young Willie Caldwell was nursing a sore leg that had been kicked by one of the horses. An open wound had festered and he was in considerable pain.
The Caldwells and the other refugees were heading for York to get provisions for the rest of the journey (they are presumed to have been among the more than a thousand refugees who passed through York that weekend headed for the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge and presumed safety across the Susquehanna River in Lancaster Township.
Young Willie could no longer put any weight on his leg, and his father decided to leave him with the Mumpers until he was well enough to go home. The dad left an old horse with Michael Mumper for that occasion, and Mumper hid the animal in one of the small quarries in the woods along Ore Bank Road.
About 9:00 AM on Monday morning, June 29, Rebels rode onto the Mumper farm. In Anna’s account, she claims they included General Stuart, but the notes from the transcriptionist correctly state that Stuart was not in Dillsburg that day, although he certainly was in the vicinity of the sprawling Mumper farms on July 1 (Wade Hampton’s brigade camped there later that day and some evidence suggests that Stuart and his staff selected the site in advance).
While enjoying a home-cooked meal at Michael Mumper’s house (across the street from the Maple Shade Barn) the Confederate leader inquired as to how the boy became injured. He ordered his regimental surgeon to treat the open wound and redress it. When informed that the boy was from Shippensburg, a town several miles to the west, the Rebel officer offered him a pass so that he could safely travel through Confederate lines, and that his old horse would not be confiscated.
The transcript of that signed pass is included in the NYCHAPS booklet:
Head Quarters
16th Regt Va Cav
Near Dillstown, Pa.
June 29th, 1863
Guard & pickets:
Will pass Mr. Caldwell from this place to Shippensburg with security to his private property.
James H. Nounnan
Maj. Commanding

Dill Tavern side 2.jpg
Young Caldwell later headed home, but was stopped by Confederate guards just past at the Coover-Welty house (now restored as the historic Dill Tavern). The Rebels ordered him to halt and get down from the horse. In his fright, he forgot he had a pass, so he painfully dismounted. Then, he remembered the signed pass in his pocket and showed it to his captors.
Taking sympathy on the lad because of his lameness, they helped him remount, told him the location of the next picket post, and ordered the boy to make sure he freely showed the pass to each patrol he encountered. Willie Caldwell rode westward to his home, where his mother joyfully met him.
The 29-year-old Major James Hope Nounnan went on to have a storied career as a Confederate officer, leading a raid that captured a Federal armed steamship at Winfield, Virginia, in which they captured a Union general, Eliakim P. Scammon. One of Nounnan’s contemporaries described the major as a man of unkempt appearance and poor hygiene, recalling that he “never washed, nor combed his hair nor put on clean garments… dirty, haggard, and worn.” (Robert Krick, Lee’s Colonels, p. 268
One of his officers in the 16th Virginia, Nathaniel E. Harris (a post-war Governor of Georgia), deemed him “while in camp he was dirty and slouchy and greasy and bent over, as if he was a hundred years old. But when the bugle called the boys to saddle and the guns began to fire he was transfigured. His face glowed; his eyes blazed with the battle light, reminding me of the stories of the old Crusaders, for he became a very war god.” The admiring soldier added, “His voice would sound like a clarion as he called the boys around him and prepared to lead them in the charge. As soon as the fight was over he would relapse into the same queer, careless, slouchy way.” – Macon (Ga.) Weekly Telegraph, April 20, 1925.
Before the Civil War, Nounnan had been in Kansas, where he fought against the Pro-Union “Jayhawkers.” After the war, he married a Miss Harmer and was an agent in the coal mining industry in West Virginia before spending several years in the Utah Territory. In a celebrated court case in 1877, he was publicly assaulted and flogged by an enemy named J. M. Richardson, who was found guilty and fined $10 for the assault and battery.
Becoming invalided in his old age from war-time injuries, he retired to a Confederate veterans home in Richmond, where he spent his last few years. He is buried in the famed Hollywood Cemetery.
Nounnan.jpg

Photo of James Nounnan’s grave from Find-a-Grave

For my series of blog posts on Jenkins’ Raid, please visit these links:
Part 1: Context and historical setting
Part 2: The approach on Mechanicsburg
Part 3: Major Nounnan’s patrol enters York County
Part 4: A Sabbath in Dillsburg
Part 5: Monday Morning in Carroll Township
Part 6: Rebels Raid Warrington Township
Part 7: The Raiders reach Wellsville
Part 8: To Dover and the Return toward Cumberland County
Part 8: The Raiders reach Franklin Township

This entry was posted in Civilians, Confederates, Dillsburg, Gettysburg Campaign. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Jenkins’ Cavalry Raid through Northwestern York County: Part 5

  1. Rob Wynstra says:

    Scott–here is another just as vivid description of Nounnen from Nathaniel E. Harris’s autobiography (p. 71) showing what a vivid character he was:
    “In the camp he dressed like a servant–never washed, never combed his hair nor put on clean garments, but presented at all these times the appearance of some day laborer, digging ditches in the swamps–dirty, haggard, and worn.”

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