On July 1, 1863, the first shots of the Battle of Gettysburg were fired. However, thirty miles north of Gettysburg, another battle was taking place. J.E.B Stuart and his cavalry forces had made his way to the north seeking supplies for his forces. On the evening of July 1st, Confederate troops led by Lt. Gen. Ewell arrived in Carlisle searching for supplies and food. Their plan was to stay in Carlisle overnight and continue towards Harrisburg the next day. The intent of Stuart and Ewell was to capture Harrisburg, this plan would change quickly once they received word of the conflict at Gettysburg.
On the evening of July 1st, Stuart and his Cavalry units arrived at Carlisle to accompany Ewell. The arrival of Stuart and Ewell, happened at the same time that General William “Baldy” Smith and 1,000 members of the Pennsylvania and New York militias were also occupying Carlisle. Stuart sent General Fitzhugh Lee to town to order the Union troops out as well as the women and children. Smith ordered the women and children out of the town, however, he and the union troops refused to leave. The Confederate horse artillery began to fire upon the town and continued to fire for over and hour. Stuart also ordered the burning of the Carlisle barracks. In the artillery shelling, several buildings were struck, but largely the city remained intact.
Many historians believe that the delay in the arrival of J.E.B, Stuart’s units heavily influenced the outcome of the battle of Gettysburg.