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JEB Stuart’s Rebel cavalrymen camped in Dover man’s fields

Alfred Weaver, Dover PA (Scott Mingus collection)
Alfred Weaver of Dover, Pennsylvania. Photo taken by H. Barratt, York, Pa.(Scott Mingus collection)

I frequently peruse eBay and other on-line auction sites looking for photographs/CDVs of York Countians from the Civil War era. Often, they are unidentified. Every now and then, I purchase one that is of a known person. Recently, I was the winning bidder (for a very modest price) on a photograph that excited me as a chronicler of York County’s Civil War history.

The CDV is the first image I have seen of Alfred Weaver of Dover, Pennsylvania. Born in October 1831 to Henry Weaver and Susanna Vogelthorb, by the time of the Gettysburg Campaign in the summer of 1863, he had married Mary Ann Stough, started a family with the first two of what would eventually be eight children, and owned a prosperous farm in Dover Township.

As he and Mary Ann retired on the evening of June 30, 1863, they could not know that within hours, their farm would play host to hundreds of visitors.

Some of J.E.B. Stuart’s Confederate cavalrymen, to be specific.

Dover square (Greater Dover Historical Society)
Dover square (Greater Dover Historical Society)

Stuart’s three brigades of weary cavalry had departed Salem, Virginia, on the night of June 24 and had ridden into Maryland. They threatened Washington, D.C., seized a very large, slow-moving Union wagon train near Rockville, Maryland, and headed north toward Pennsylvania. Stuart fought a small engagement at Westminster on June 29, camped overnight near Union Mills, and then had a pitched battle in the streets of Hanover, Pennsylvania, on June 30. Hoping to connect with elements of Richard Ewell’s Second Corps, known to be operating between York and Carlisle, he headed through Jefferson to Dover.

Throughout the night of June 30-July 1, more than 4,000 road-weary, exhausted Southern saddle soldiers rode into the Dover area and camped overnight.

Some of them turned their horses loose to graze in Alfred Weaver’s fenced-in fields along the shallow, meandering Fox Run.

The distraught farmer later filed a formal damage claim with the Border Claims Commission, citing that he lost two-and-a-half tons of hay and five acres of grass “pastured by Rebel horses.” It was not his only loss. His friend Emmanuel Daron was standing close by when the Rebels departed, taking Weaver’s 7-year-old bay work horse with them.

Weaver asked for $305 in compensation from the state government.

Like everyone else whose claims were analyzed and approved by the three-man commission, he never received a dime of the approved amount. Repeated political in-fighting in the state legislature and budget cuts halted any disbursements.

Alfred Weaver died on June 16, 1887, and is buried in the Lenhart-Gerber section of the Salem Church Cemetery along West Canal Road in Dover Township. Part of Brookside Park now sits on the site of the old Weaver farm.

For more on Stuart’s escapades in western York County and his men’s interactions with the local populace, pick up a copy of Scott Mingus’s booklet Confederate Calamity: J.E.B. Stuart’s Cavalry Ride Through York County, Pa.

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