145 years ago today – July 2, 1863
Life here in York County, Pennsylvania, was slowly returning to normal, although, for many, the trauma and scars from the Confederate invasion would go away slowly. Efforts continued to clean the U.S, Army Military Hospital on Penn Common, even as patients from the Battle of Gettysburg began arriving. Work crews assessed the damage to the county’s railroad bridges, and telegraphers in Hanover and Hanover Junction worked to restore that vital communications link.
Patrols from the First Troop, Philadelphia City Cavalry scoured the area and picked up dozens of Confederate stragglers and deserters, many of which were taken to Columbia for processing. Late in the day, the first prisoners from the Battle of Gettysburg were transported into York County toward Columbia. From there, they would head into captivity at Fort Delaware near Philadelphia. The cavalry also rounded up nearly 100 stray horses, mostly played out nags released by Jeb Stuart’s column, and took them to the York Fairgrounds.
The booming of artillery from Gettysburg could be distinctly heard in several York County locations, and many residents worried that a major Confederate victory would unleash an angry Southern army to freely roam Pennsylvania. After all, Robert E. Lee had not lost a battle to the Army of the Potomac (considering Antietam / Sharpsburg a tactical draw). Author Jim McClure points out an article in the Hanover Spectator that that stated, “The ground was fairly shaken by the concussion and the whole country for miles around was filled with the terrible sounds of warlike strife.”
Many businesses remained closed in York and Hanover. A few hardy citizens made plans to head to Gettysburg (when it was safe) to help with the wounded. In Hanover, those efforts were still underway, as dozens of stricken cavalrymen remained in the temporary field hospitals.