The Lost Letters (Part 2)
Background post: Introduction.
During the Gettysburg Campaign, more than 10,000 individual Confederate soldiers and troopers passed through York County, roughly half infantry and half cavalry as a general breakdown. They were from a variety of states, from South Carolina (the cradle of Secession) to one of the last states to secede, Virginia. Among these soldiers was the division of Jubal Early, which occupied York from June 28 – June 30. Infantrymen from North Carolina and Virginia artillerymen were stationed downtown at the Fair Grounds and/or Penn Commons, with Louisianans lounging in the creekside area west of today’s Harley-Davidson factory and on the hills just west of the Codorus. Virginians were in Emigsville, Frystown, and East York, along with a company of Maryland cavaliers. More Virginia artillery crowned the imposing Webb’s Hill south of town. Georgians camped at first near Wrightsville, and then along the Carlisle Pike in western York.
Scores of men took the welcome break to write home; many of these letters have been preserved. As mentioned in the introductory post, a packet of letters never made it back to Dixie and was captured near Hanover. Here are excerpts from one of these lost letters, perhaps from a cavalryman who accompanied Gordon’s column to the river….
York, Pa., June 29, 1863 – I arrived here yesterday, about eight P.M., finding General Early with his headquarters at the Court-House. York was surrendered by the authorities without a struggle, and ere this reaches you we expect to witness the fall of Harrisburgh [sic]. There was a small fight at or this side of Columbia Bridge yesterday, which resulted in driving the Yankees across the river, where they fired the bridge and burned it. The boys are a jovial set of fellows, confident of being able to take Philadelphia.