Jenkins’ Cavalry Raid through Northwestern York County: Part 1
This prosperous farm is on Union Church Road in Franklin Township in northwestern York County PA. It is northwest of the village of Clear Spring and not far from the intersection of Union Church and Water Street. During the Civil War, it was owned by a Pennsylvania German farmer named William Flohr. On Monday, June 29, 1863, Confederate raiders took an 8-year-old roan and an 8-year-old gray mare from the 31-year-old man. After the war, Farmer Flohr filed a state damage claim for $250 as compensation for the loss of his two horses.
York County, Pennsylvania has a rich and varied Civil War history, both from the perspective of a border county providing men and materiel for the war effort despite carrying on extensive trade with the South and then as a region that saw no less than three separate major Confederate incursions during the Gettysburg Campaign.
Much of the attention in recent years has been focused on the two largest invading forces – Major General Jubal Anderson Early’s division and its occupation of York on June 28 and the subsequent burning of the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge, and Major General J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry ride through western York County on June 30-July 1. However, not nearly as much attention has been paid to an independent expedition into northwestern York County, a cavalry raid that will be the focus of an article I am currently writing for the Gettysburg Magazine.
In the next few weeks, I will examine the somewhat obscure and under-reported June 27-29 movements of a brigade of Confederate mounted infantry under Brigadier General Albert G. Jenkins. The veteran horsemen terrorized northwestern York County, in particular the Dillsburg region and nearby Franklin Township, as well as parts of Cumberland County.
Jenkins’ Brigade was a part of the Army of Northern Virginia’s cavalry forces, and it accompanied the strike force of Lt. General Richard S. Ewell that marched through the Cumberland Valley from Chambersburg through Carlisle and threatened Harrisburg. Jenkins’ men had entered Pennsylvania on June 15, riding into Chambersburg in the night and occupying the town for a couple of days before withdrawing into Maryland with supplies, booty, black citizens, and horses. They returned a few days later at the vanguard of Ewell’s column and rode through Carlisle toward Mechanicsburg and Camp Hill before turning southward into York County.
So who were these raiders and their commander?
Albert Gallatin Jenkins (November 10, 1830 – May 21, 1864) was an attorney and planter from western Virginia who represented that state in the United States Congress in the 1850s. During the Civil War, he served in the First Confederate Congress, and then became a Confederate brigadier general leading a brigade of mounted infantry. He and his men mostly were from counties in Virginia that formed into the new state of West Virginia in 1863.
According to his entry in Wikipedia, Jenkins was born to wealthy plantation owner Capt. William Jenkins and his wife Jeanette Grigsby McNutt in Cabell County, (West) Virginia. At the age of fifteen, he attended Marshall Academy. He graduated from Jefferson College in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1848 and from Harvard Law School in 1850. Jenkins was admitted to the bar that same year and established a practice in Charleston, before inheriting a portion of his father’s sprawling plantation in 1859. He was named a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Cincinnati in 1856, and was elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-fifth and Thirty-sixth United States Congresses.
He resigned from Congress in early 1861 and returned home, where he raised a company of mounted partisan rangers. Over the next two years, his performance (and political power) earned him an appointment as a general officer and the command of a brigade of (West) Virginia troops by the time of the Gettysburg Campaign.
Jenkins’ Brigade was mounted infantry, soldiers who rode to the battlefield on horses, but fought much as infantry does using rifled muskets and infantry tactics. They were not traditional cavalry in the sense of horseback fighting using sabers, pistols, and/or carbines (such as Stuart’s men). Jenkins on paper had 1,126 men and two pieces of horse artillery under his command, but one regiment, the 17th Virginia, did not accompany Jenkins into Pennsylvania. They had been assigned to the expeditionary force of Jubal Early and was with that division throughout the early part of the Gettysburg Campaign, including the occupation of York.
Jenkins retained immediate command of the 14th Virginia Cavalry (265 men under Maj. Benjamin Franklin Eakle), the 16th Virginia Cavalry (~265 men under Col. Milton J. Ferguson), the 34th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry (172 horsemen under Lieut. Col. Vincent A. Witcher) and the 36th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry (125 riders under Capt. C. T. Smith). Jenkins’ Brigade included Jackson’s Battery which had four Dalghren howitzers and two three-inch rifles.
The last week of June 1863 saw General Jenkins and his boys riding all over Cumberland County, stealing horses and supplies, and spreading fear and terror throughout the populace. He sent scouts into York County, and then followed that up on Saturday June 27 with a major raid through Lisburn and vicinity in southern Cumberland County that culminated the following day with his entry into Carroll Township in York County. Among his victims that Saturday were a couple York Countians from Monaghan Township whose horses were taken by a roving patrol of Rebels who rode from Mechanicsburg to Lisburn and on to Sidneytown before approaching Dillsburg.
In the next few installments in this series, we will retrace Jenkins’ movements through York County (some of his men reached the vicinity of Dover before withdrawing into Cumberland County), looking at modern photographs of some of the farms and places his mounted mountaineers visited.
One of the scores of York County farmers raided by Jenkins’ marauders, William Flohr is buried in the graveyard of Franklin Union Church near Clear Spring in Franklin Township.
For my series of blog posts on Jenkins’ Raid, please visit these links:
Part 1: Context and historical setting
Part 2: The approach on Mechanicsburg
Part 3: Major Nounnan’s patrol enters York County
Part 4: A Sabbath in Dillsburg
Part 5: Monday Morning in Carroll Township
Part 6: Rebels Raid Warrington Township
Part 7: The Raiders reach Wellsville
Part 8: To Dover and the Return toward Cumberland County
Part 9: The Raiders reach Franklin Township