Did York Sell Out to the Confederates?
Our family moved to York County in 2001 from the shores of scenic Lake Erie. My oldest son (now a college history professor) was soon accepted to grad school in history at Millersville, and his master’s level report on the burning of the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge inspired me to write a full-length book on John B. Gordon’s brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign (and the subsequent follow-up book on the Louisiana Tigers that has just been submitted to the publisher).
Among the many resources we found for the bridge burning was a series of articles written by local professor Thomas L. Schaefer. Tom also made an interesting VHS tape which we purchased early on. Entitled Defend or Destroy?, this program offers a walking tour of Wrightsville and examines the bridge burning. It’s worth a look if you haven’t seen it.
I am please to announce that through the efforts of Lila, the YCHT will host an upcoming York CWRT panel discussion on York during the Civil War. I will speak on whether or not York should have surrendered to the Confederate army. This interesting and relevant topic will be the kick-off to the annual Patriot Days celebration on Wednesday June 25 at 7 p.m. at the York County Heritage Trust in York, PA.
Other presenters that evening include Dr. Mark Snell, another York native who is a well respected lecturer, tour guide, and writer from Shepherd University in West Virginia. He’s one of the top Civil War educators in the country and chairs the prominent George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the American Civil War. Mark’s excellent book on William B. Franklin brought this forgotten general back to light. Dr. Snell is a frequent guest at various Civil War events and has a reputation as an excellent and knowledgable speaker.
Local authors and bloggers Jim McClure, Scott Butcher and June Lloyd will round out the panel, which will be moderated by Lila Fourhmann-Shaull of YCHT.
Jubal Early ransomed York and threatened to burn railroad buildings if his demands were not met. He received more than $25,000 in cash, as well as thousands of dollars in supplies. A similar ransom at Gettysburg went unfulfilled, and Waynesboro, Early’s first port-of-call in Pennsylvania, was not ransomed. However, arson was in his blood, as he torched the Caledonia Iron Works near Cashtown, as well as a large warehouse at Gulden’s Station east of Gettysburg along today’s route 30, plus dozens of railroad bridges and boxcars. A year later, even though he was not physically present, Early orchestrated the burning of the town of Chambersburg by his subordinate John McCausland.
Could York have resisted, triggering the Skirmish of York?
Should York have resisted? Would Early have applied the torch to York beyond the railcars that his Tar Heels burned?
Did the Democratic town officials make a wise call in protecting their town, or did they, as one Republican attorney wrote, “behave sheepishly” in caving to the Rebels?
What do you think?
Come interact with this distinguished panel on June 25!!! Questions will be taken from the floor.
Would Chambersburg’s fate have also been York’s???