The Empty Larder
Southwestern York County was visited by multiple military units during the 1863 Gettysburg Campaign, beginning June 27 with the 35th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry (later to be known as White’s Comanches for their ferocity in battle and their war whoops). Confederate cavalry under J.E.B. Stuart passed through the area on June 30, as did Union cavalry under Judson Kilpatrick. Over the next couple of days, Federal infantry columns also traversed the Hanover area en route to Gettysburg.
For many local residents, this criss-crossing of the armies brought emotional highs and lows – fear of the Rebels often turned to surprise when they proved to be well behaved and gracious, and joy when the Federal soldiers arrived turned to shock and disgust when they openly robbed York Countians. In many cases, the U.S. Army caused as much (or more) damage to property and livestock than did the invading Confederates. Favorite targets for these raiders included horses and mules, clothing and shoes, chickens and pigs. In particular, soldiers would open larders, pantries, and kitchen cabinets, emptying them of their supplies of food.
Philip and Julia Raubenstine owned property in the vicinity of Glenville, where they lived in the mid-19th Century with their large family, including their young daughter Catherine. She grew up, married, and lived in the area her entire life. By the early 1900s, she was an widow living in Spring Grove at her daughter’s home. The aged woman frequently recited incidents that occurred during the Civil War, especially of how her family was compelled by force to feed the soldiers of both the Union and Confederate armies. On several occasions, large numbers of soldiers came to the rural Raubenstine home and consumed all the food, leaving practically nothing for the family.
Hunger knew no distinction, blue or gray. Nor did thievery, gluttony and greed.