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An eyewitness account of Jubal Early’s occupation of York

Maj. Gen. Jubal Anderson Early, after the Civil War (Library of Congress)

Frank Moore’s classic Rebellion Record is one of my favorite anthologies of Civil War stories and events. The variety of topics is astounding, and there are some records that are now only to be found in this extensive work. Moore includes many dispatches and reports from period accounts, including reprinting a story written by a reporter for the York Gazette. It is a nice summary of the events of June 28 – 30 as York became the largest Northern town to be captured by the Confederates during the Civil War.

“On Sunday morning, about ten o’clock, the vanguard of the enemy approached in three columns, the centre through Main street [Market Street]. Gordon’s brigade passed through town and encamped on the turnpike about two miles east of town [near today’s Walmart]. General Early next arrived with another brigade [Avery’s] of his division, and, after an interview with the Chief Burgess, took possession of the Fair Ground and Government Hospital. Thither the forces were stationed with their artillery, consisting of some fourteen pieces, together with their infantry, mounted riflemen, cavalry, etc. Headquarters were established in the court-house, General Early occupying the sheriffs office, the provost-marsal the register’s office, and other members of the staff of the general commanding other offices.
The following requisitions were made upon the citizens by General Early :
One hundred and sixty-five barrels flour, or twenty-eight thousand pounds baked bread.
Three thousand five hundred pounds sugar.
One thousand six hundred and tifly pounds coffee.
Three hundred gallons molasses.
One thousand two hundred pounds salt.
Thirty-two thousand pounds fresh beef, or twenty-one thousand pounds bacon or pork.
The above articles to be delivered at the market-house on Main street, at four o’clock P.M.
Captain and A. D. C.
Two thousand pairs shoes or boots.
One thousand pairs socks.
One thousand felt hats.
One hundred thousand dollars in money.
C. E. SNODGRASS, Major and Chief Q. M. Early’s Division. June 23, 1888.
Approved, and the authorities of the town of York will furnish the above articles and the money required, for which certificates will be given.
J. A. EARLY, Major-General Commanding.
A meeting of the citizens was called, and every effort was made to fill the requisition. Upon the representation of the committee appointed to see to the obtaining of the required articles, that they had done the best in their power to do, General Early signified his satisfaction, and agreed to accept their offer.
On Sunday afternoon, Gordon’s brigade reached Wrightsville, and after a slight skirmish, in which two of Bell’s Adams County cavalry are supposed to have been taken prisoners, our forces, consisting of several regiments of New-York [incorrect; no New Yorkers were present] and Pennsylvania militia, fell back across the Susquehanna, destroying the bridge in their rear by fire. The fire was distinctly seen from town. No property was burnt at Wrightsville, except Moore’s foundry and some frame buildings attached, which took fire from the burning bridge. No property was burned at Columbia. The rebel cavalry dismounted and used their muskets and rifles.
On Sunday, the bridges on the Northern Central Railway, north to near Harrisburgh, and south to below Hanover Junction, were burned by the enemy’s forces. We are also informed that some bridges on the Wrightsville Railroad were burned, and the large bridge over the Conewago, on the Harrisburgh turnpike.
Last evening General Early visited the railroad property and machine-shops in this borough, in company with the Chief Burgess and other citizens, to see what should be destroyed, but, upon their urgent request, abstained from burning them, because their destruction would have endangered the safety of the town. Beyond the destruction of the switches, portions of the track and of the telegraph, and some company cars yet remaining here, no public property, as far as we are informed, was destroyed. Several cars, the property of citizens, were not destroyed.
Last evening Gordon’s brigade returned through town and encamped several miles from the borough on the Carlisle road. This morning the other brigades followed westward, with their artillery and munitions. The town is now no longer occupied by the enemy in force, jut a few pickets and scouts are passing through town as we write, and they are no doubt yet in ;he surrounding country.
Let us hope that they are on the retreat, and that the invasion of our fair State by the enemy may soon be at an end, and never again be repeated. We have no news from the outside world, being completely cut off from all sources of intelligence.”