Jenkins’ Cavalry Raid through Northwestern York County: Part 8
As the afternoon waned on Monday, June 29, 1863, Major James H. Nounnan‘s battalion of the 16th Virginia Cavalry approached the Conewago Creek which separated Warrington and Dover townships in northwestern York County, Pennsylvania. It had been a fruitful raid so far, with dozens of fresh horses procured and several wagons now loaded with supplies. It was time to reverse course and return to the main body of Brig. Gen. Albert G. Jenkins’ brigade of (West) Virginia mounted infantry, which was operating in Cumberland County to the north.
At least one of Nounnan’s widely scattered patrols crossed the creek and entered Dover Township. An old York County history reads “On June 27, 1863, during the Confederate invasion, Dover was visited by a small squad of Jenkins’s cavalry. These soldiers came here from Carlisle, being the advance of Ewell’s corps, part of which had proceeded as far east as Shiremanstown in Cumberland County. They remained at Dover for a short time and then returned to Carlisle.” (George R. Prowell, A History of York County, 1907)
However, Jenkins did not reach Shiremanstown until the 28th, and it is likely the historian is recalling Major Nounnan’s June 29 expedition to Dover, as he did come from there and then return in the direction of Carlisle through Washington Township. Either that, or there was yet another patrol to Dover on the 27th whose identity has been lost. However, there is no supporting evidence such as border claims for that date that far south in York County. The border claims support a June 29 date.
The names marked with blue boxes are among the Washington Township farmers who filed damage claims after the war with the state government for losses incurred to Jenkins’ Cavalry during the Gettysburg Campaign. Those in red are from the later passage of J.E.B. Stuart’s boys through the same region on July 1.
Jenkins’ Rebels spent very little time in Dover Township, taking a few horses and some supplies. Their route back to rejoin Jenkins can be estimated through the York County border claims. It is likely that they trotted northwesterly up Harmony Grove Road (ironically the same road later used by J.E.B. Stuart’s lead column on July 1), recrossed the Conewago Creek using the covered wooden bridge at Detter’s Mill, and then entered Washington Township.
A few farmers along the route reported losing horses to “Jenkins Cavalry,” late on June 29, including Jesse Reynolds (also spelled Rennoll in some accounts). He vainly tried to stop the Rebels from taking a 16-year-old horse from his stable in his barn. His efforts halted when a Confederate leveled a pistol at the farmer. Perhaps noticing a watch chain, the Reb demanded that Reynolds surrender his silver watch. Reynolds later asked for $100 in compensation for the old horse and $16 for the timepiece.
Jenkins’ cavalry often accentuated the perception that they might turn on their hosts at any time if more and more luxuries were not produced. One Pennsylvania newspaperman wrote that many Southern cavalrymen behaved like common thieves. It was “not unusual” for Rebels to accost residents who were walking in the road or even sitting inside houses. A squad would ride up, present a pistol to the terrified civilian’s head, and demand his money, hat, coat, boots, and even his pantaloons, forcing some men to walk home in a state of nudity. If the victim refused to cooperate, he “would get a taste of real lead.” (Lancaster Daily Express, July 8, 1863)
Samuel McCreary was another of the Washington Township men likely robbed by the roving battalion of the16th Virginia Cavalry. His deposition states that Jenkins’ men took a 6-year-old bay, leading him away by his halter and chain. McCreary asked for $151.50 after the war in payment.
As Major Nounnan’s patrol reached Franklin Township in the early evening, nearly a dozen more stunned farmers received an unexpected visit from the Rebel raiders.
In Part 9 of this series, we will look at the final leg of Nounnan’s circuit through northwestern York County, examining the damage claims from 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