A railroad story I had not heard before
I stumbled onto this story recently. I did not include it in Flames Beyond Gettysburg, because the book was already too far along in the editorial process to make changes.
George Small of York, a retired engineer on the pension roll of the Northern Central Railroad, and one of the best known residents of York, died suddenly on Wednesday, May 8, from neuralgia of the heart, aged 80 years. His wife, four sons and three daughters survive him. At the time of the Southern occupation of York, Small was given charge of a train of valuables and ordered to escape across the river. At Wrightsville, Small removed the stack of the engine and carried out his mission, despite that he was pursued and fired upon by cavalry.
New Oxford Item, May 16, 1907.
Small was likely the engineer of the Northern Central Railway’s June 28, 1863, train that carried Granville Haller’s militia and the York Invalids to York, along with the telegrapher and his equipment. Perhaps there were other “valuables” on board. We have other sources that confirm the 17th Virginia Cavalry fired shots at the last train from York; one of the military hospital patients who was on board recorded that Rebel cavalry was onb the heights beyond the railroad tracks and fired a few shots at long range.
Removing the smokestack would have been common practice as the locomotives were hauled across the bridge by mule power. The trains were not allowed to cross under power because of fears that sparks from the smokestacks would set the bridge on fire.