The vast public holdings of the U. S. government include thousands of vintage photographs from the Civil War. At least six of them show Hanover Junction, Pennsylvania, and are credited to the Mathew Brady studio in Washington, D.C. They were misidentified for years as being Hanover Junction, Virginia, but a York Countian, Russell Bowman, notified a clerk in the archives of the mistake and she agreed.
The government obtain the six images from various sources, including the Mathew Brady collection. Others were a gift of Colonel Godwin S. Ordway, Jr. in 1948. The negatives are held in the National Archives; the prints are in the collection of the Library of Congress. Some of the prints are in the form of stereo cards, with twin images that are slightly offset as captured by side-by-side lenses. Four of the images show trains and people at Hanover Junction, one shows just a crowd of people on the porch, and the final one shows a few men standing on the temporary bridge over the Codorus Creek. Confederate cavalrymen from Virginia and Maryland burned the bridge and 30 others in York County during the Gettysburg Campaign; the U. S, Military Railroad rebuilt them.
Since the mid-1950s, Civil War, railroad, and presidential buffs and historians have debated if this series shows President Abraham Lincoln and his travel party on their way to Gettysburg on November 18, 1863, to attend the dedication of the new National Cemetery. There, Lincoln was to deliver a few remarks that have come down in history to us as the Gettysburg Address.
Do the photos show Lincoln as he waited to change trains that long-ago afternoon?
Here are the known facts: