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A Tiger gets what a tiger wants

During the few days in the early summer of 1863 that the Confederate army passed through Pennsylvania, many residents of Franklin, Adams, and York counties had a chance to interact with some of the Confederacy’s most colorful characters (and among the best fighters) – the fabled “Louisiana Tigers.” Recruited from the docks, saloons, and alleyways of New Orleans, as well as in nearby regions, the Tigers boasted an array of nationalities and personalities, although hard-drinking Irishmen and charismatic Cajuns were prevalent in their ranks. By the Gettysburg Campaign, their reputation for wildness has preceded them. They proved at times to be unruly and rowdy, and their division commander, Jubal Early, often camped them outside of town to reduce the risk of trouble.

During the occupancy of Gettysburg on June 26 – 27, they were on Oak Hill, yet a few managed to make it into Gettysburg to brawl with locals at an Irish drinking house on Baltimore Pike. At York, they were camped north of town along the Codorus Creek – not far from today’s Harley-Davidson factory.

Here’s one story from their short sojourn in York.

Detail from the 1860 Shearer & Lake Map of York County, Pa.

Jubal Early’s Confederates occupied York June 28 and 29. Soldiers visited old acquaintances, relaxed, cleaned equipment, and foraged for supplies. One York clothing merchant had concealed most of his inventory. An officer from the Louisiana Tigers knocked on the door, and the old man responded that he had nothing left to sell. The Confederate offered gold for some fresh shirts, and the storekeeper opened his store and allowed the Rebel to select what he wanted. The Southerner returned to his quarters and declared to his men where they could obtain shirts. The Tigers headed into downtown York, stopped at the old man’s store and asked for shirts. The merchant refused to sell any to them, so the Rebels pushed him aside and entered the store to check for themselves. They found the shirts, as well as a supply of aged whiskey and other choice liquors.

When he refused to give them any alcohol, the Tigers locked him out of his store and proceeded to “indulge in a great spree.” Soon, a crowd of onlookers huddled outside his windows, peering in at the commotion inside. The soldiers, perhaps more honest than the shopkeeper feared, emerged with their arms loaded with large quantities of merchandise. They asked him to tally up the bill so they could pay for their selections. They handed him CSA currency, leaving him with a “rueful countenance, notwithstanding the assurances of the officers that the day would come when he would be glad to have some Confederate money in his possession.

Source: Gibson’s History of York County

Scott Mingus’s book on the Louisiana Tigers.