I’ll take one of these, two of those…
Typical interior of a small country store
Boredom. Routine. Monotony… By June 1863, the Army of Northern Virginia had spent more than half a year relatively idle in its camps since the Battle of Fredericksburg, with the exception of the flurry of activity in May at Chancellorsville. As the soldiers headed northward for the summer campaign, they passed through dozens of small towns in Virginia, with most of the businesses barren from the hardships of the war. When the troops got to Pennsylvania, soldiers marveled at the well-stocked stores and shops, and there are scores, if not hundreds, of surviving letters and diaries that discuss individual Confederates’ shopping sprees.
York County was no exception. While the soldiers were often gleeful at the rare chance to leisurely shop for whatever goods they needed, the local merchants were not at all happy about the situation.
In the majority of cases, the Rebels pulled out Confederate bank notes to pay for their merchandise. A few lucky shopkeepers would received U.S. currency, but, for most, they were left with lower inventory and a fistful of worthless scrip. In other cases, they didn’t even get money, as a few Southerners simply stole what they wanted.
C. M. Raffensberger was typical of these angry businessmen. On June 30, the Paradise Township merchant was belatedly loading his store goods into a spring wagon with the help of two friends, Clement Hammer and George F. Altland. He wanted to get his inventory to a place of safety where the Rebels could not find it. A squad of Jubal Early’s Rebel cavalry (likely White’s Comanches) rode up and took everything, wagon, harness, and horses included. Among their haul were shoes, calico, muslin, cashmere woolens, quilts, blankets, cloth, silk, coats, hats, shoes, linen bed sheets, towels, boots, smoking and chewing tobacco, and ten razors. The three men were left standing stunned in front of the store as they watched the wagon they had toiled to load disappear down the road to the west.
Raffensberger estimated his loss as $900 (roughly $15,000 in today’s dollars). He would later try to get his money back from the U.S. Government, but to no avail.