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Such wanton waste of supplies

In a recent post entitled “A Quaker in Gray,” I related how one Confederate soldier from North Carolina was appalled at the massive waste of supplies and food during the brief occupation of York from June 28-30, 1863. The greediness and gluttony clashed with his Quaker upbringing, as he had been taught to be a good steward of what he had received.

Another of Jubal Early’s men also commented on the massive amount of supplies that were left behind when the division marched off toward Gettysburg on the morning of June 30.

Private Isaac G. Bradwell of the 31st Georgia was among those troops who had marched from York on the 28th to Wrightsville, where they labored in vain to save the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge from destruction. He recalled years later, “At York, General Early had made a demand on the merchants for a large sum of money as indemnity for destruction of property in Virginia. When they were unable to pay the amount imposed, he seized a large quantity of such goods as the army needed. We (Gordon’s Brigade) arrived there in the night, after a hard march from Wrightsville, and bivouacked.

The orderly sergeant detailed me and a comrade to go to the quartermaster and draw rations and our part of the goods coming to our company. It was surprising to see the amount and variety issued to us, and to get it all to the men consumed a great part of the night, and we found many of them lying about fast asleep and could not waken them to take anything. We finally fell down ourselves and had hardly closed out eyes in sleep when we were called to ranks, half dead from fatigue, to resume a hard march to Gettysburg. Even when our men awoke they paid no attention to the great piles of supplies we had brought them, and marched away, leaving their portions for anyone who might find them. Among the rations I remember were two hindquarters of very fine beef, a barrel or two of flour, some buckets of wine, sugar, clothing, shoes, etc. All this for about twenty men.”

Lacking sufficient wagons to haul off the stash, Bradwell’s company, as well as hundreds of other Confederates, abandoned what they could not carry on their persons, leaving their campsites strewn with a good portion of what had been collected from the merchants and citizens of York.