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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Greencastle in Franklin County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The First Soldier to Fall

 
 
The First Soldier to Fall Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 7, 2010
1. The First Soldier to Fall Marker
Inscription. When General Robert E. Lee’s invading army overran the Union garrison at Winchester, Virginia, on June 15, 1863, elements of the 1st New York “Lincoln” Cavalry covered the retreat. Company C, under Captain William Boyd, continued to harass the Confederates as they crossed into Pennsylvania. On June 22, Boyd’s 35 men narrowly avoided an ambush at the William Fleming farmhouse. When Corporal William Rihl, a 21-year-old Philadelphia native, and Sergeant Milton Cafferty rode out in front of the house to reconnoiter, the Confederates fired a volley at point-blank range. Cafferty suffered a serious leg wound; Rihl was struck in the head and died instantly, the first Union soldier killed on Pennsylvania soil.

The events at Gettysburg soon overshadowed the skirmish at Fleming farm, but the people of Greencastle remembered, as did the veterans of the 1st New York Cavalry. On June 22, 1886, Greencastle’s G.A.R. Post 438 reburied Rihl with full military honors at the spot where he fell. Exactly one year later, Pennsylvania’s state legislator erected a monument over Rihl’s new grave, honoring him as “a humble but brave defender of the Union.”
 
Erected by Pennsylvania Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the
Marker in Greencastle image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 7, 2010
2. Marker in Greencastle
Pennsylvania Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 39° 47.43′ N, 77° 43.67′ W. Marker is in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, in Franklin County. Marker is at the intersection of W Baltimore Street and S Carlisle Street, on the right when traveling west on W Baltimore Street. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Greencastle PA 17225, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Colonel John Allison (within shouting distance of this marker); Captain Ulric Dahlgren (within shouting distance of this marker); McCullough's Tavern (within shouting distance of this marker); Corporal William H. Rihl (approx. one mile away); Gettysburg Campaign (approx. one mile away); Brown's Mill School (approx. 3.1 miles away); Old Brown's Mill School (approx. 3.1 miles away); a different marker also named Gettysburg Campaign (approx. 4 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Greencastle.
 
More about this marker. The top of the marker features a picture of a wounded Corporal William Rihl. Below this is a photograph with the caption “The monument to Corporal William Rihl, “a humble but brave defender of the Union,” erected June 22, 1888. Courtesy of the Allison-Antrim Museum.”
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
Pennsylvania Civil War Trails Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 7, 2010
3. Pennsylvania Civil War Trails Marker
Marker on Baltimore Street image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 7, 2010
4. Marker on Baltimore Street
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 862 times since then and 57 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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