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Rebels raid Sprenkle’s mill

At one time, scores of grist mills dotted the land along most larger creeks in York County, Pennsylvania. Many of these buildings are still in existence as private homes, storage buildings, or other uses, but unfortunately, a large number of old mills have been razed over the years since the decline of smaller private flour mills in favor of national brands.

Among those mills now long gone was the David B. Sprenkle mill near New Salem. He was particularly hit hard by elements of Col. William H. French’s 17th Virginia Cavalry in the early evening of Monday, June 29, 1863. The Virginians took what they wanted from Sprenkle’s flour mill, stable, and  store.

Sprenkle’s Days Mill in 1904.

This detail from the 1860 Shearer & Lake Map of York County shows the location of the mill complex. (Library of Congress)

Of particular interest (and immediate need to cavalrymen with played out horses) were fresh mounts. Rebels entered Sprenkle’s stable and emerged leading away his prized 5-yr-old bay stallion, as well as seizing a 6-yr-old dark bay and a 6-yr-old gray mare. The Confederate troopers also snatched a pair of leather riding saddles and two bridles.

Some of the cavalrymen entered Sprenkle’s grist mill and took 125 bushels of mixed grain and 20 empty grain bags. They did unspecified damage to the mill equipment for which Sprenkle noted in his application for compensation.

Entering his store, the Johnnies helped themselves to his inventory. Sprenkle later filed a damage claim from memory but admitted he could not itemize everything that had been taken without his consent. He did list the loss of 8 pairs of boots, 10 shirts, a watch, 6 hats, various items of clothing, quantities of dry goods, 36 crocks of apple butter, and $20 in coins. The cavalrymen also snatched gold pens & pencils, 4 pocket knives, 4 sets of knives & forks, various provisions and “eatibles.”

French’s soldiers grazed their horsed in one of his fields, and he lost 2 tons of hay. His damage claim was one of the larger ones in York County applications, totaling $947.50 (which is equivalent to $16,000 in today’s dollars using the consumer price index calculations).

June 29, 1863, was not one of David Sprenkle’s better days.


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