Several Confederate soldiers in the Gettysburg Campaign had family or personal ties to this region. It was not uncommon in the mid-19th century for people to move around quite a bit, despite the lengthy transportation requirements of the day. As a result, they often knew folks in other towns, and letter writing became an art form. York was typical – several citizens had extensively traveled through Maryland and Virginia; many had attended school with people from the South; and some had antebellum military connections with the Rebels.
Captain William Seymour, the acting inspector general and the newly promoted adjutant of the First Louisiana Brigade (Louisiana Tigers), was the brother-in-law of deceased Confederate general Johnson K. Duncan. Duncan had been in charge of a portion of the defenses of New Orleans and had married a local girl. Seymour called on Duncan’s sister in York and received a frigid reception.
Lt. General Richard S. Ewell, the one-legged balding commander of the Second Corps, had a sister-in-law who lived in downtown York. Confederate general Jubal Early is known to have visited Mrs. Ewell during his division’s two-day stay in York.
Artillery Major Robert Stiles, a Kentucky native who grew up in New York City and Connecticut, was an 1858 Yale graduate who counted among his classmates and good friends a Lancaster native who had returned to that city to establish a law practice.
Private George S. Latimer of Shrewsbury (a soldier in the Confederate 1st Maryland) was a cousin to York resident Cassandra Small and her siblings; Miss Small wrote some very interesting letters on the Confederate occupation and her disdain for her cousin’s appearance in York. George, a Georgia native, and his brother Thomas officially served in a brigade that was at Carlisle, but he may have been temporarily detached to serve under John Gordon as a guide because he lived in York before the Civil War. It was not uncommon for officers to request such transfers in unfamiliar territory. Cassandra lived in the house across the street from today’s Yorktown Hotel.
Prosperous York businessman A. B. Farquhar had been educated in Maryland and Virginia, and counted among his friends Confederate cavalry general Fitzhugh Lee, who briefly rode through York County on June 30 and July 1, although he obviously did not detour to York to see Farquhar. However, Farquhar did run into another old school friend, a “Lieutenant Redik” from Maryland, who was serving in Gordon’s brigade. Redik helped arrange an interview for Farquhar with General Gordon to discuss York’s surrender.
A few York girls had beaus among the Marylanders who served in the Confederate forces, and there were a few unexpected happy reunions.
One of the most enduring tragedies of the Civil War was how it pitted brother against brother, cousin against cousin, and friend against friend. The emotional scars ran deep long after the war ended.