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Early’s Raid – “Surrender” at Farmers

Photo of the house at Farmers, PA where York’s four-man delegation met the night of June 27, 1863, with Confederate General Gordon to negotiate York’s immediate future. This picture ran in a local York newspaper on the 100th anniversary of the event. Background post – Jim McClure’s entry on the farmhouse.

M. L. Barman was an eyewitness to the Confederate invasion of York. His 1911 newspaper account is comprehensive and offers a broad overview of the occupation from a civilian perspective. In the last installment, he recounted the uncertainty among York’s leaders as the Rebels approached, and the impulsiveness of young industrialist A. B. Farquhar, who dashed westward in his buggy to meet with the Confederates, without waiting for authorization. Now, as we pick up the story, Farquhar is heading out the turnpike (Route 30) again, only this time with the mayor, a former army colonel, and another leading citizen to legalize the terms offered to Farquhar by Confederate General John Brown Gordon earlier in the day just outside of Abbottstown…

“This occurred late on Saturday afternoon. They proceeded out the Gettysburg pike and into the lines of the Confederates, which had then reached the neighborhood of Farmers postoffice, some seven or eight miles west of York. There they had an understanding of what might be expected of them upon Confederate occupation, as well as by the citizens of the borough. Generals Gordon and Early [who was not physically present at the conference], together with the officers of their staff, stipulated the following terms and requisitions: The residents of York were to pay $100,000 in United States money together with a sufficient amount of clothing and food for the troops and horses while in the town and vicinity. The committee agreed to do the best that could be done under the circumstances. The action of the committee was not generally known to the citizens as they did not return [to York] until late during the night.”

A small knot of townspeople was still awake and anxiously awaiting the delegation’s return to the hardware store on the square. Farquhar and his trio of comrades delivered the terms to those members of the Committee of Safety who had lingered to await their arrival. The legal agreement drafted by attorney/Rebel general John Gordon offered protection for the townspeople and their private property, something that comforted the small crowd, some of whom had worried about rumors of impending destruction.

The various York residents and leaders finally went to bed in the early morning. Tomorrow was Sunday, church day for most. The bells would not only toll to collect the faithful for worship, but would also signal the arrival of Jubal Early’s lead brigade. The Rebels were coming…

For a little more on the farmhouse where Gordon met with Farquhar and company at Farmers, see another of York Daily Record editor Jim McClure’s blog entries..