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Remnants found of old mill once raided by Rebels

On Monday, June 29, 1863, Col. William H. French‘s 17th Virginia Confederate cavalry, assigned to Jubal Early’s division, paused in the New Salem area to raid area farms, mills, and merchants for horses, mules, and provisions. David B. Sprenkle was among the scores of North Codorus Township residents who were unable to remove their possessions and animals to safety before French’s Southern raiders arrived.

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

French’s cavalry particularly hit Sprenkle’s mill near New Salem hard in the early evening of June 29, 1863, when a party paused to take what they wanted from the flour mill and outbuildings. 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 Confederates 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.

On April 1, 2012, Codorus Valley historian and mill researcher Ray Kinard led a walking tour of the site of the old Sprenkle Mill on State Game Lands just off of Route 616 north of York-New Salem. Here are a few photos of the remnants of David Sprenkle’s mill and barn.

This stone archway remains in good shape despite being more than 150 years old. Water used to leave the mill’s cellar through this opening and pass into the tailrace before being returned to the Codorus Creek.


A wider view of the same stone archway. This is on the western side of Route 616.


The stone foundation of what may have been an outbuilding at the Sprenkle Mill complex.


A portion of the old mill race which once carried incoming water to the prosperous mill. Water power turned the wheel and powered the grindstones.


Sprenkle’s barn was a typical Pennsylvania German massive wooden bank barn. All that is left today is some foundation stones and the old banking which led to the main entrance along the eastern side of Route 616. A 20th-century concrete retaining wall supports the earthen embankment.


Here are the foundation stones of another building in the complex next to the barn still on the east side of 616.


We are continuing to walk southwesterly along the old mill race for several hundred yards. It eventually disappears into a plowed cornfield, but in the mid-19th century would have continued on to the creek, where a dam breast would have created a mill pond.


While this manmade stone wall strongly resembles the style of an old dam breast, it is parallel to the creek instead of perpendicular. We suspect it may have been a retaining wall for the mill race, which may have frequently flooded and been washed away in this location.


Another view of the old stone supporting structure between Sprenkle’s mill race and the Codorus Creek.