Monument honors York, Pa. infantry unit dating from the American Revolution
York, Pennsylvania, has several Civil War statues, including an impressive memorial on Penn Common and a nice statue in Prospect Hill Cemetery. Another, less known perhaps, statue stands in Salem Square, a small grassy park tucked in western York at the intersections of West Princess Street, Grantley Road, and Salem Street.
The statue honors a long-time militia unit from the York area, the York Rifles.
The base of the statue pays homage to the unit’s service in the Civil War, as well as its formation and first service in the American Revolution.
According to Jim McClure’s York Town Square blog of Nov. 7, 2005, “the city refurbished the statue during the administration of Mayor Bill Althaus in the early 1980s to repair a broken musket.”
Two decades later, strong winds toppled the head from statue in 2004.
York Daily Record photograph, from Jim McClure’s May 11, 2007, York Town Square post.
The city raised money from private donations and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania chipped in with a $7,500 state grant to help refurbish the base. The additional cost for statue repairs was underwritten with donations raised by the Mammy Ruggles Tent 50 of the Daughters of Union Veterans of Pennsylvania. A new head was crafted in Lancaster and the statue repaired before being reinstalled in the spring of 2007 on the monument base.
“Erected in memory of Capt. Michael Doudel and his company of York Riflemen who left York July 1, 1775 and joined the American Army under Gen. George Washington at Boston, Mass. July 25, 1775 in the war of the Revolution By the York Cadets June 22, 1912.”
This inscription is on the base immediately below the front of the statue. However, the statue does not depict Captain Doudel in his Revolutionary War uniform, but instead is of a Civil War soldier. Some accounts suggest the statue’s orientation was changed for some reason when it was reinstalled following the repair of the broken musket back in the 80’s.
The 337th Engineer Battalion traced its roots to the York Riflemen. According to the modern unit’s website, “Doudels’ company was employed early in the Revolutionary War, participating in the siege of Boston and serving as a part of the 2nd Continental Regiment, the 1st Continental Regiment and the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment. During the American Revolution the company received campaign recognition for numerous engagements, including Trenton-Princeton, Brandywine, Germantown, the siege of Boston, the defense of Philadelphia and several actions in New Jersey.”
Moving clockwise around the monument, here is the next side of the base, a listing of the York Cadets, a local military unit which commissioned and dedicated the monument in 1912.
This side has a listing of the privates from the York Rifles during the Civil War.
According to the 337th, “In the Civil War, however, the York unit served first as Company K, 2nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry and later as Company K, 87th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.
In the course of the Civil War this company participated in some of that war’s most bitter campaigns, including Cold Harbor, Spotsylvania, the Wilderness and Petersburg. Following the end of the war, this unit, deservedly proud of its wartime service, took the name York Zouaves.”
More from the 337th’s website: “The York unit served in the Spanish-American War at the end of the 19th century (as Company A, 8th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry) and in the punitive expedition against Mexico in 1919. In World Wars I and II it served as a part of the 28th Infantry Division.
In the First World War, as Company A, 112th Infantry, the unit received credit for six campaigns, including the fierce action in the Meuse-Argonne Forest in 1918. Its record in World War II is equally proud; the York Rifles’ lineal descendant, the 28th Quartermaster Company, received a total of five campaign credits, including service during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944.”