Soldier in the 27th New York complimented York County
Tens of thousands of Union soldiers passed through York County during the Civil War, with many receiving their initial training at Camp Scott on the old fairgrounds off the intersection of E. King and S. Queen streets in downtown York. Dozens of accounts exist from these soldiers describing their initial impressions of York County, its people, its towns, and its terrain.
Here is one brief account (a very positive one!) from Cpl. Charles B. Fairchild of Company D, 27th New York Infantry.He had enlisted on May 2 at the age of nineteen. Fairchild survived the Civil War and returned home to his family. Later, as the regiment’s veterans reminiscenced about their wartime experiences, they decided, like so many other Union regiments and some Confederate units, to memorialize their service into a bound volume.
Here is a passage from Fairchild’s History of the 27th Regiment N. Y. Vols. (Binghamton, NY: Carl and Matthews, 1888), page 7.
The 27th New York was organized in Elmira in upstate New York on May 21, 1861, with nearly 1,000 recruits spread among ten companies from such towns as White Plains, Lyons, Binghamton, Rochester, Lima, Mount Morris, Angelica, and Albion. As a result of coming from seven different counties, he unit soon became known as the “Union Regiment.” Their initial leader was a man whose name is well known to Civil War buffs — Col. Henry Warner Slocum (perhaps better known as the competent, though sometimes slow-moving commander of the Twelfth Corps of the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg).
On July 10, 1861, the men of the 27th New York boarded railcars of the Northern Central Railway at the siding in downtown Elmira and soon were steaming south into Pennsylvania en route to Harrisburg, which they would reach on the morning of the 11th. Their ultimate destination was the Union camps near Washington, D. C.
The teenaged Corporal Fairchild recorded the trip for posterity:
“In the morning we found ourselves opposite the City of Harrisburg, where we remained about an hour. It was a beautiful morning, and from our position, looking across the Susquehanna, we had a grand view of the city, and the dome of Pennsylvania’s Capitol, towering above the structures of the city.
“Here, the train was divided, and we ran slowly on through a splendid county, especially about York, Pa., where we passed immense fields of wheat, corn and rye. Here the farming lands are excellent; large and beautiful houses; with a degree of thrift that but few of the men had ever seen.”
After the train crossed the Mason-Dixon Line into rural Baltimore County, Fairchild noted a decided difference in the attitudes of the locals along the tracks:
“The people did not welcome us in Maryland as they did in Pennsylvania, and there is not near as much enthusiasm.”
Fairchild’s account is but one of the many, many positive impressions of York County which Civil War soldiers recorded.
As he arrived in Washington, C. B. Fairchild had no way of knowing, but his destiny was a Southern prison camp. Within two weeks of his arrival in Washington, he fought at the First Battle of Bull Run where he was captured by the Confederates. He was paroled almost a year later on May 22, 1862. He returned to his regiment and was promoted to sergeant on March 30, 1863. He and his company were mustered out with the regiment on May 31, 1863, in Elmira.