Aftermath of Batle
— Gettysburg Campaign —
(Preface): After Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's stunning victory at Chancellorsville in May 1863, he led the Army of Northern Virginia west to the Shenandoah Valley, then north through central Maryland and across the Mason-Dixon Line into Pennsylvania. Union Gen. George G. Meade, who replaced Gen. Joseph Hooker on June 28, led the Army of the Potomac in pursuit. Confederate cavalry commander Gen. J.E.B. Stuart cut Federal communications and rail lines and captured supplies. The armies collided at Gettysburg on June 1, starting a battle that neither general planned to fight there. Three days later, the defeated Confederates retreated, crossing the Potomac River into Virginia on July 14.
From the onset of the Civil War, Adams County and Fairfield were in a precarious position. Located just north of the Mason-Dixon Line and the slave state of Maryland, Fairfield's residents lived with the fear that the war might come home to them. It did, twice.
The more significant event occurred on July 3, 1863, after the "Battle of Fairfield" that was fought about two miles northeast of the town as the Battle of Gettysburg raged. When Union Maj. (later Col.) Samuel H. Starr's 6th U.S. Cavalry clashed with Confederate Gen. William E. "Grumble" Jones's cavalry brigade, Starr was wounded, and his regiment was completely overwhelmed. Pvt. George C. Platt and Sgt. Martin Schwenk, 6th U.S. Cavalry, later received the Medal of Honor, respectively, for protecting the regimental flag and for rescuing an officer and attempting to carry a message through enemy lines. The regiment lost 242 killed, wounded, or missing out of 400 Starr and many of the other wounded men were cared for in the town's houses and churches. Jones kept the Hagerstown Road open for the Confederates.
On July 4 and 5, 1863, most of Gen. Robert E. Lee's army retreated from Gettysburg through Fairfield on its return to Virginia, leaving many of their wounded behind and creating additional hardships for the residents. For all the damage incurred during the war, $40,000 in damage claims were filed in Hamiltonban Township, of which $12,000 in claims were from the town of Fairfield.
The threat of war first became a reality for Fairfield on October 10, 1862, when Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart and 1,800 of his cavalrymen crossed the Potomac River and headed for south-central Pennsylvania. On the next afternoon, the force arrived in Fairfield, looted the stores, and made prisoners of Postmaster John B. Paxton, Justice of the Peace Andrew Low, and several other male residents. Stuart's raid also netted hundreds of horses.
John Miller founded Fairfield (first called Millerstown) in 1784 on land originally part of Carroll's Delight. When Peter Shively bought the Miller property (now the Fairfield Inn) from James and Mary Wilson in November 1856, the improvements consisted of "a storehouse, a tavern house, extensive back buildings, a stone dwelling three stories high, a stone spring house, smoke house, oven, ash house, wood house, carriage house, oats house, stable, and other outhouses." On the eve of the Civil War, in addition to Shively's Mansion House hotel, the town included a school, for churches, two tanners and curriers, three blacksmith shops, one huckster, one confectioner, one boot and shoe manufacturer, one Justice of the Peace, and the general merchandise stores of Rinehart & Sullivan and Paxton & McCreary.