More detail on the slain Union courier
Jim McClure recently posted some information about a Union courier who was killed by a farmer named George Bair near Green Ridge in southern York County. I have a little more information on the incident in my files, although in some ways, it deepens the mystery. To read Jim’s background post, please click here.
Curiously, press reports of the incident are nearly identical in details, but one account places the incident at Rockville, Maryland and the other in York County (and, the variants are actually reported in the SAME newspaper in at least one case in separate columns).
Here are the conflicting accounts.
Columbia, Pa., July 3 – “Capt. Roberts, of Philadelphia, who was captured near Gettysburg and paroled arrived here. He reported that yesterday, beyond York, a courier from General Meade to General Couch stopped at a house to have his horse fed. The women in the house were alarmed and blew a horn to collect the neighbors, when the courier, fearing that the noise would reach the rebels, threatened them is they did not desist. At this moment, the owner of the house arrived, and drawing a pistol, killed the courier. His despatches were subsequently sent to Baltimore, very foolishly, instead of to Harrisburg.”
Here is the companion longer article, with a similar storyline, but placed in Montgomery County. There are a few discrepancies, not the least of which is the location.
“A strange affair occurred in Montgomery county on Wednesday night. A soldier awakened a farmer near Rockville, and demanded that he should instantly get up and give him a horse, as his had given out. This the farmer refused to do, and the soldier then threatened to burn his barn and house if he did not comply. The farmer’s wife then blew a horn (supposed to be a signal to awaken the neighbors), and, thereupon, the soldier said he would shoot both the farmer and his wife, and while drawing his revolver was shot and killed by the farmer.
By this time a number of the neighbors had congregated, and upon examining the body of the soldier found that he was a member of a New York cavalry company. They found upon his person a number of despatches and papers, which were brought to Gen. Schenck (the commander in Baltimore) yesterday. These were found to be highly important despatches from Major General Meade, Commander of the Army of the Potomac, to Gen. Halleck, Commander-in-Chief at Washington.
It appears the soldier was the bearer of these despatches, and that, his horse giving out, he had made the demand for one of the farmer, who, not knowing who he was, shot him. The despatches were immediately transmitted to General Halleck. The name of the farmer or soldier did not transpire. Colonel Don Piatt, chief of General Schenck’s staff, has the affair under investigation.”