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Civil War Voices: Part 11 – Some soldiers forced to serve on both sides of Mason-Dixon

Ovid Pinney “Jerry” Reno served in both the Union and Confederate armies.

Born in western Pennsylvania’s Beaver County, he had drifted west in the 1850s to live with an older brother in Kansas. He was a 26-year-old boatman on the Mississippi River at the start of the Civil War.

Like many others of his profession, he was stranded in New Orleans and forced to join the Confederate army.

Reno and others later deserted, going to the Federal forces at Fort Pickens. He returned to the North and settled in Chanceford Township.

He then joined the Union army and was injured in a train wreck between Lynchburg and Danville, Va.

– Excerpted from ‘Civil War Voices from York County’

Capt. Jonathan S. Slaymaker was far less fortunate than Reno. The York County native had moved west before the war and now served in the 2nd Iowa Infantry.

He met with an unusual manner of death while serving under U.S. Grant in the campaign against Confederate-held Fort Donaldson in Tennessee.

“A bullet struck his pocket-knife in his left pocket,” a newspaper reported, “shivering it to pieces, and drove the blade into his body, so that it, and not the bullet, severed the artery, the rupture of which caused his death. Pieces of the knife were found in his wallet.”

Before there was war, John Anthony worked as a tobacconist in northern York County’s Fairview Township.

He was also a musician and enlisted in the 7th Pennsylvania Reserves in May 1861 to use those skills.

But the need for soldiers outweighed the demand for musicians. Anthony was reduced in rank and given a musket as a common infantryman.

His father George Anthony would never see him again.

Badly wounded at Antietam in September 1862, young John was taken to a temporary field hospital in the village of Smoketown, Md., where he died.

He is buried in the National Cemetery at Antietam.

Lieutenant Samuel Waring of York was among the soldiers ordered to police the festering battlefield of Antietam and its environs.

His job: Stop pesky relic hunters and recover any military items that “got mysteriously transferred into the hands of sundry citizens.”

By mid-October, Waring and his patrols had visited numerous farms and houses throughout central Maryland.

Their efforts netted “four hundred and forty three muskets, and sundry good horses and mules.”