It’s just a ditch in Hanover, Pa., but Jeb Stuart made it famous


Hanover, Pa., native Reuben Becker Jr., painted this well-known artpiece: ‘Stuart Jumps the Ditch,’ that hangs in Hanover’s library. Jeb Stuart, Confederate cavalry commander, escaped Union soldiers in the Battle of Hanover by jumping the the 15-foot-wide ditch. This is one of many noteworthy Civil War sites in York County that the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg will help highlight. Also of interest: Jubal Early heard booming of Battle of Hanover’s guns.

Hanover Borough Councilman Sonny Eline wants to mark a ditch in West Hanover Street Park.

It’s the ditch that famed Confederate cavalier Jeb Stuart jumped on his horse on June 30, 1863, in the Battle of Hanover.

The pursuing Union cavalrymen didn’t even try.

We pick up more of the Hanover Evening Sun’s story – Hanover councilman wants a ‘Custer Maple’ tree – here:

“But the ditch wasn’t always this small. When the story Eline fondly tells took place this ditch was 15-feet wide, but development and 150 years of weather and changes shrank it.

“It was at this spot, or somewhere nearby, that J.E.B. Stuart made his famous leap to escape Federal soldiers in the Battle of Hanover.

“Eline now wants to memorialize that leap with a ‘Custer Maple’ to commemorate the 150th anniversary of that battle. A similar maple once stood in what is now known as Center Square in Hanover – named after George Armstrong Custer, then a brigadier general, who tethered his horse to the tree on June 28, 1863, two days prior to the Hanover battle.”

York County does not have the Civil War fame of neighboring Adams County.

Never will.

But we have the opportunity this year to mark sites such as Stuart’s ditch (the exact location is disputed) that are part of York County’s Civil War story. This site, like so many others in York County, are unmarked and almost forgotten.

Gettysburg 150 gives us a chance to remember them.

Quick questions
Are you looking forward to learning more about the Civil War with all the events connected with the Battle of Gettysburg’s 150th anniversary? Any unmarked or forgotten Civil War sites in York County that should be spotlighted? Please comment below.

Also
Check out this list of York County, Pa.’s 10 most memorable Civil War moments

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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