Major General Jubal Early exacted a steep ransom from the citizens of York, including money, food, and military supplies. News of York’s fate swiftly spread through the Union army and soldiers debated the merits of the surrender. In at least one case, a regiment decided to exact a toll of revenge for Early’s actions in Pennsylvania.
The 121st Pennsylvania was among the many Union forces that trudged into Virginia as part of the sometimes sluggish pursuit of Robert E. Lee’s retreating army. The regimental historian left this account of the regiment’s actions during the retreat, including this passage:
“July 18th, the march was continued through Berlin, across the Potomac and on to near Waterford, and on the 19th through Hamilton, the regiment reaching Middleburg on the 20th, and remaining there until the 22d, when, taking charge of the trains, it started at 5.30 p. m. for White Plains, reaching Warrenton on the 23d.
As a retaliatory measure for Ewell’s treatment of the citizens of York, Pa., the inhabitants of Middleburg, one of the worst secession places in Virginia, were required to furnish the brigade with fresh bread, and they managed to have their quota ready at the hour named.”