Part of the USA Today Network

More Civil War relics found in York well after the war

Detail from the April 17, 1913, edition of the York Daily
Detail from the April 17, 1913, edition of the York Daily

In the years following the Civil War, at times residents of York County, Pennsylvania, found relics and artifacts in various places. That continued well into the 1960s when Mark Snell, later a well-known Civil War author and educator, found an old bayonet that likely once belonged to a Confederate soldier, one of the famed Louisiana Tigers, during the Rebel occupation of York the last days of June 1863. Even today, local relic hunters occasionally find interesting items throughout the county.

Here are a two examples of relics found over the years.“While digging in the garden at his home in North Codorus township several days ago, Samuel Nace, uncovered a cent of 1862 at the same spot that his grandfather, Samuel Nace, had buried his money and other valuables during the Civil War. When preparations were being made for the battle of Gettysburg Mr. Nace, as many others did, hid his money by burying it in the garden. It is believed that the old coin was one left by the grandfather.”

The senior Sam Nace was certainly not alone in burying his valuables, and for good cause. Confederate patrols or individuals at times robbed citizens of their pocketbooks and even stole money from homes and businesses. In downtown Dillsburg, postmaster August N. Enslinger later reported that Rebels had broken into his locked post office and took his overcoat, as well as stealing $30 from his cash drawer. Other Southern soldiers accosted a young couple in West Manchester Township and robbed them at gunpoint.

Such behavior, however, was not the norm, and the majority of soldiers, blue and gray, that visited York County during the Civil War were not common thieves.

Penn Park, the site of the U. S. Army General Hospital,during the Civil War.
Penn Park, the site of the U. S. Army General Hospital during the Civil War. (Scott Mingus collection)

An article from the York Daily of February 20, 1909, mentioned another bayonet left behind in York after the soldiers departed.


Bayonet Found in Cellar by Colored Woman — Bears Date 1863

“What is supposed to be a relic of the days when a United States army hospital was located on the public common, now Penn park, and when troops that took part in the Civil conflict of the 60’s were camped here, has come into the possession of Alderman Jacob Stager.¬† It is a rusty bayonet in a leather sheath or scabbard.

“The bayonet and its worn leather covering were found by a colored woman in the cellar of her home on South Beaver street. With a quantity of scrap iron the weapon was sold to Jacob Ross, a junk dealer of the Twelfth ward.

“Ross, thinking¬† that his purchase would have value as a relic, submitted it to Alderman Stager, who bought it.

“On the leather scabbard of the bayonet are carved the letters, ‘H. W. H.,’ and the numerals ‘211.’ On a short strap attached to the scabbard there occurs the date ‘1863.’

“The number ‘211’ and the date ‘1863’ lead Alderman Stager to believe that it is a Civil War relic. At the time of the war in the streets communicating with the public common, there were numerous saloons patronized by soldiers. The house in which the bayonet was found by the colored woman, while she was cleaning the cellar, was a saloon at the time of the Civil War, it is said. The bayonet was found on a ledge of masonry where it no doubt had been lying unobserved through all the years that have passed since the days when soldiers from the north stopped here on their way to the front and those wounded in the field were brought here for treatment.”