My Kingdom for a Tent
Thomas L. Kane, US Volunteers
Elements of the Union Army occasionally camped in York County for varying periods of time. Usually, the troops were passing through the region and stopped for an extended rest break while awaiting orders to march elsewhere. One such regiment was the 13th Pennsylvania Reserves (also known as the 42nd Infantry Regiment), filled with woodsmen and lumbermen from the mountains of western Pennsylvania. The men wore the white tails of deer in their caps and became known as the “Bucktails.”
They were under the command of Colonel Thomas L. Kane. Before the war, the Philadelphia native had been an influential friend of the controversial Mormons and helped mediate an end to the Utah War in 1858. Colonel Kane and his Bucktails spent time in the autumn of 1862 in Shrewsbury in southern York County, where they were accused of wanton destruction of private property.
Kane’s infantry regiment pitched camp at the Shrewsbury Camp Meeting Grounds. For some reason that has been lost to history, the Bucktails borrowed a large board tent from Shrewsbury resident Levin Willey. When Kane’s men broke camp and moved off to their next destination, several of the soldiers tore down Willey’s tent and destroyed it. He complained, but to no avail. He tried legal action years after the war to recover his money, claiming that the Federal government should recompense him $65 for the loss of his board tent.