Civil War Voices: Part 5 – Soldiers stationed at Camp Scott find friend in ‘York’
– Excerpted from ‘Civil War Voices from York County’
In early May, a stray dog wandered into the 13th Pennsylvania’s encampment at Camp Scott, the old fairgrounds in southeast York.
The canine became the regiment’s mascot and accompanied it for months. In recognition of the dog’s hometown, the stray was named “York.”
The Rev. Alexander M. Stewart, regimental chaplain, described York as a “curious-looking specimen of the canine. One must be more skilled in doggery than the writer to define his species. Spaniel, cur, terrier, and water-dog all seem blended into one.”
York was clearly a town dog, lacking natural hunting instincts.
“York’s reasoning facilities seem to operate slowly,” the chaplain wrote, “He is accustomed to bound away, and bring back in his mouth whatever missile any one of the boys may throw from them, whether falling upon land or water. With live game he has but little acquaintance.”
He explained York’s response after spotting a rabbit on the run: “Thither he bounded with wonderful agility, then he stopped and snuffed and snorted to find the rabbit as he would a block or stone — seeming wholly oblivious, that although the rabbit was actually in that spot when he started in pursuit, it might not perchance be in the same spot when he arrived.”
York “re-enlisted” with nearly all of his comrades in the 102nd Pennsylvania after the three-month term of the 13th Pennsylvania expired. Eighteen months after York first wandered into the camp, he perished from injuries, disease and exposure.
Members of his regiment buried the dog with full military honors.
Thousands of soldiers trained at Camp Scott under sub-par conditions.
One member of the 2nd Pennsylvania wrote to a Philadelphia newspaper on May 4, “Our quarters are cattle-sheds and temporary structures hastily thrown together for the purpose. We lie down at night upon nice clean straw, draw our blankets over us, hob-nob the stars a few minutes, and ere we know it, are locked in the arms of Morpheus.”
“After drilling all day,” he added, “we could sleep soundly on an oak board. At home it is my habit to toss for an hour or two before I subside into the night’s slumber; but I know no such dalliance with the treacherous sleep- god here. I just tumble over into the straw and into the deadness of dreamless sleep.”
Read these and more than 200 other interesting Civil War stories in the new book by Scott L. Mingus, Sr. and James McClure, Civil War Voices from York County, Pa.: Remembering the Rebellion and the Gettysburg Campaign. It’s available from most bookstores in the York – Gettysburg area, as well as directly from the authors (firstname.lastname@example.org). Copies may also be purchased on-line from amazon.com.