Less than two months after their victory at Chancellorsville, the Army of Northern Virginia surged northward.
As part of Major General Jubal Anderson Early's Division of Ewell's Corps, Confederate Brigadier General John B. Gordon's Brigade
arrived in Gettysburg on June 26, 1863. The monument pictured to your right reads that Union private George W. Sandoe of the 21st
Pennsylvania Cavalry "an advance scout of a company of volunteer cavalry", rode unknowingly in the direction of Gordon's
men. Private Sandoe had served with the Cavalry for only a few days having enlisted less than a week earlier. Hidden behind brush
and bushes, pickets from General Gordon's brigade spotted Sandoe and a companion, ordering them to halt. William Lightner, the
fellow cavalryman riding with him, succeeded in turning his horse and racing down the Baltimore Pike to safety. Private Sandoe
did not. His horse fell and as he tried to remount and ride off, a Southern soldier shot him in the head.
According to the above monument,
Private George Washington Sandoe then became "the first Union soldier killed at Gettysburg". Private Sandoe emerged
as one of over 20,000 Union casualties stemming from what would become the Battle of Gettysburg, the largest battle ever on the
North American continent. However, 1st New York Cavalry Corporal William Rihl in reality had the sad distinction of becoming the
first Union casualty to die on Pennsylvania soil during the 1863 campaign when, days earlier, he came into contact with some of
Lee's advanced troopers. During a brief skirmish on June 22, 1863, a soldier from CSA Brigadier General Albert Jenkins' Cavalry shot
Corporal Rihl just north of Greencastle Pennsylvania about 30 miles west of Gettysburg. The monument pictured here, dedicated to his
"To the Memory of
Corporal William H. Rihl
Co. O, 1st N.Y.
Who was Killed on This Spot
June 22, 1863
The First Union Soldier
Killed in Action
A Humble but Brave
Defender of the Union"