Part of the USA Today Network

Did you know? 150 Civil War facts about York County, Pa.: Part 3


31. The Central Hotel on the square in Hanover, Pa. (shown above) served as the temporary headquarters of Union Brig. Gen. H. Judson Kilpatrick during the June 39, 1863, Battle of Hanover. Kilpatrick’s horse collapsed and died in front of the hotel following a feverish gallop from near the Pigeon Hills after the general heard the gunfire to his rear.

32. During Confederate Major General J.E.B. Stuart’s ride through York County following the Battle of Hanover, he impressed six local men and forced them to guide his columns through Jefferson to Dover, where he released the civilians. One of them, Jacob Leppo, left a fairly detailed account of his ride with the famed Southern general.

33. Leppo and his neighbors were not the only York Countians known to have been forced to guide the Rebels. The 17th Virgina Cavalry trotted up Board Road toward Liverpool (now Manchester) and Mount Wolf, forcing “an intelligent farmer” named Benjamin Miller to guide them on to the railroad bridges to the northeast near York Haven.

34. The bridge between Wrightsville and Columbia was touted as the world’s longest such structure. Built in the early 1830s, it was made primarily from wood salvaged from an earlier bridge which had been knocked down by ice flows in the Susquehanna. The bridge carried passenger and foot traffic, heavy freight and carriages across the toll road, and mules which dragged canal boats across the river.

35. Shortly after the outbreak of the war, Union Army officials established a training facility on the grounds of the old York Agricultural Fairgrounds (off Fair Avenue near the intersection of King and Queen streets). They named it Camp Winfield Scott in honor of the aged general-in-chief.

36. Confederate Lt. Col. Elijah V. White and his 35th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry raided Hanover Junction on Saturday, June 27, 1863. After concluding their mission, the camped on the Weist farm, which is now the grounds of the Kennie’s shopping center.

37. While accounts of vandalism by the Confederate are rather scarce, in one documented case a group of stragglers destroyed personal property, including a looking glass, at the Jacob Smeich home in southern York County.

38. The Democratic chief burgess of York, David Small, also operated the town’s leading newspaper (the York Gazette). He easily won reelection in 1863 despite questions arising over this role in the Confederate occupation of York.

39. In the winter of 1861-1862, a bright comet appeared in the night sky, drawing wonder from the people.  Coupled with an unusually strong aurora borealis (“Northern Lights”) , the strange sight elicted fear in some residents, who considered the twin occurrence to be a sure portent of the coming of war.

40. Some York Countians did not take kindly to Confederates raiding their farms and barns, especially those soldiers who were taking horses. According to his service records. Pvt. Charles Brown, a member of the feared Louisiana Tigers, was “murdered by the citizens of York County, Pa.” Local lore suggests that a farmer near Big Mount shot Brown as he was stealing a horse and buried him nearby. Some accounts suggest this happened north of Big Mount near Conewago Creek.

41. In another case of a civilian shooting a soldier, near Green Ridge/Brodbecks, a farmer named George Bair heard a knock on his door well after dark one night. Fearful of Rebel intruders, he opened the door, saw that it was a soldier, and fired, killing the stranger who turned out to be a Union courier. The rider had become lost in the hill country of southern York County and apparently stopped to ask for directions to the telegraph station at Glen Rock. The body was buried at a nearby church until his father came down from New York to claim it.

42. The Round Top area in northern York County offered a safe place to hide horses, at least the local farmers believed. Dozens of men and boys from Cumberland and York counties are known to have taken their horses and mules into the mountainous region. However, Confederate foragers became quite adept at locating the hidden horses, and often at gunpoint confiscated them, at times offering worthless CSA currency.

43. After the battle of Gettysburg, young York businessman A. B. Farquhar secured a contract to provide 1,000 coffins for the victims of the battle. He shipped them to Gettysburg on the Hanover Branch Railroad from Hanover Junction.

44. More than 3,000 soldiers clashed at the June 28, 1863, Skirmish of Wrightsville, making it at the time the largest military engagement in York County history. That dubious distinction lasted two days when the Battle of Hanover occurred.

45. Residents of other York County villages and towns also heard gunfire during the Gettysburg Campaign. Most notably, some of J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry clashed with a Union scouting patrol from the Army of the Potomac at the crossroads at Rossville in Warrington Township. Another small engagement happened just west of Dover along Canal Road.