One of the Rebels buried in York PA likely identified
Five Confederate soldiers are buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery along N. George Street in York, Pennsylvania. According to local information, all were prisoners of war who were wounded in battle, taken to York for treatment, and then perished from their injuries. They were buried in the local cemetery, but the exact location of their graves has been lost to history, as well as their names. A Confederate interest group installed this memorial marker a number of years ago to their memory. Three soldiers are buried near the marker, with two others elsewhere in the cemetery.
One of the long-dead Rebels’ names is now known.
He was a Georgian, a victim of the battle of Gettysburg who later died of his wounds in York.
After the Civil War, the United States government issued a lengthy book, Report on the Treatment of Prisoners of War by the Rebel Authorities in the War of the Rebellion. Appendices included records of Confederate prisoners held by the Union army. A notation [shown above] mentions that three Rebel POWs are buried in York, which does not agree with the current tombstone which suggests a total of five.
According to Georgia service records, one of these men was Private William J. Wiley of Company H, “The Walton Infantry,” 11th Georgia. He was one of five sons of William Scott Wiley (1809-1896) and his first wife Catherine. All five would serve side by side in the same company in the Confederate army.
Billy Wiley enlisted in the army on September 25, 1861, and joined his regiment at its quarters in Centreville, Virginia. The camp sanitation was not good, and so many of the soldiers suffered or died from diseases that an officer was sent back to Georgia in February to recruit more men. Wiley and his comrades that summer saw action in the Peninsula Campaign, in particular during the Seven Days Battles. They took part in several other major battles, including Second Manassas and Fredericksburg before going into winter quarters. In the spring of 1863, they fought at Chancellorsville as part of George Anderson’s brigade.
At Gettysburg on July 2, the 11th Georgia took part in the late afternoon attack on Union troops near the Wheatfield. In the swirling fighting, Company H took significant casualties, including the death of their captain, Mathew Talbot Nunally, and several enlisted men. Billy Wiley was shot and grievously wounded in his lung. He was taken to a field hospital, left behind when Lee’s army retreated toward the Potomac River, and subsequently taken prisoner.
In bad shape, he stayed in Gettysburg until November 15, 1863, when he was judged stable enough to be transported via rail to the U. S. Army General Hospital on Penn Common [the site is across from today’s William Penn High School on West College Avenue].
However, Private Wiley continued to struggle for life. He finally expired from his lung wound on January 2, 1864. His death was recorded in a small notation in the Baltimore Sun newspaper, which misspelled his name as “J. W. Wyley.” His body was apparently taken to Prospect Hill Cemetery on the 3rd and buried. Either his grave was either not marked or the rudimentary markings were lost over the years.
Of the five Wiley brothers who served in Company H of the 11th Georgia, two died in 1863, one was disabled during the battle of the Wilderness, and the other two surrendered with Lee at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. A cousin also served in the same company; he too surrendered with the army.
For much more on the 11th Georgia, see John C. Rigdon’s book, Historical Sketch and Roster of the Georgia Eleventh Infantry Regiment.