Relief workers bound for Gettysburg pass through York County
This story is excerpted from my manuscript for Gettysburg Glimpses 2: More True Stories from the Battlefield, being published in early 2010 by Ten Roads Publishing (a new company associated with the American History bookstore in Gettysburg).
A group of volunteer ladies from Lancaster County who termed themselves as the “Patriot Daughters” decided to travel to Gettysburg to offer their services as nurses and relief workers. On the way there, they had encountered several difficulties, including finding suitable transportation across the rain-swollen Susquehanna River because the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge had been burned by retreating Union militia on June 28. They waited in line for hours and finally took their seats on a boat that was ferrying people between the two towns.
As they rode between York and Adams counties, one lady noted, “All around was in the height of summer beauty; the birds sang in the clear morning sky, and the stately hills looked down on orchards laden with their crimson fruit. Though late in the season, the harvest was just yielding to the sickle. All here, was beauty, quietness and peace, whilst all beyond was desolation, destruction and war.
Here we listened to the sweet songs of birds whilst within a few miles, the air was laden with shrieks of the wounded and groans of the dying. We were but a few miles from Gettysburg, when we met the first ambulance. In it was a wounded Captain, who had received permission, (as his home was in Lancaster County), to try and reach there if he could; and although severely wounded, and the motion of the ambulance caused him great pain, still he said he was willing to endure it if he could only get home. He had been in the hands of the enemy until they retreated; they had been very kind to him and, in return, he begged us to take good care of one Reb. I promised him that I would, and the promise was kept.”
The Lancaster ladies ministered without prejudice to both fallen Yankee and Confederate.
The Patriot Daughters of Lancaster County, Hospital Scenes after the Battle of Gettysburg. (Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Daily Inquirer, 1864).