Cannonball

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The Union V Corps visits southwestern York County

Frederick Street in downtown Hanover
Southwestern York County had seen the hand of war, with a cavalry raid on Hanover Junction on June 27 and the Battle of Hanover three days later. On July 1, the streets of Hanover were filled with members of the veteran V Corps of the Army of the Potomac, the first large body of infantry seen in the prosperous town during the campaign. Thousands of men from New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maine, and other eastern states walked through Hanover, or paused there for a brief rest break. Only a handful left their impressions of the town and its citizens.
Here is one such description from an officer in the 118th Pennsylvania, a regiment of city boys from Philadelphia recruited in the summer of 1862 under the sponsorship of the Philadelphia Corn [Stock] Exchange.


Rousing cheers, demonstrative shouts, ringing enthusiasm greeted the good old Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The unfurling of colors and rolling of drums at one o’clock in the afternoon indicated the crossing of the line. There was a firmer step, better closed ranks, more determined countenances. Beyond there had been some cavalry fighting. The fences were down and the bodies of dead horses scattered about ; those
branded C. S. A. the more numerous. Rumors were rife of the close presence of the enemy, and stories of a battle to be momentarily expected. Information, none of it of value, was eagerly seized and distributed with frightful exaggeration.
The broad, level acres of York [County], in Pennsylvania, took the place of the rolling lands of Carroll [County] in Maryland. The rich soil, too productive to permit the timber to stand, was almost entirely cleared of the forests, and patches of woodland were
rare. The great red barns, cosey spring-houses, and large, roomy stone mansions were indicative of the successful results of good, substantial tillage.
Hanover, a town of considerable size and of flourishing business, was intended as the destination of the day’s march. Its railway depot, extensive warehouses, large stores, substantial dwellings, were the evidence of its enterprise, thrift and comfort. One of the oldest settlements in southern Pennsylvania, it had long been a centre for the gathering and distribution of the prolific yield of the surrounding country. Its broad streets were the terminals of excellent turnpike roads leading to all neighboring important towns. Its main railway outlet, with branches from Gettysburg and Littlestown, was by the Northern Central to Baltimore and Harrisburg, its own branch tapping that line at Hanover Junction.
Here, on the outskirts, the column halted at four o’clock in the afternoon, with something
of a conviction that it was for an all night’s rest. Immediately, in wonder and astonishment at this sudden visitation by such a mass of men, apparently all the people from far and
near gathered for a more familiar acquaintance with their uninvited guests — as one of them not inaptly expressed it, for a more intimate association ” with these travel-stained, dusty, walking arsenals, licensed to do murder at their chieftain’s bidding.”
They were deferential, respectful to the rifle and bayonet, and at first cautious and hesitating about a near approach to them. But upon being assured that the arms were
not dangerous unless used to do harm, they became interested in their mechanism and evinced some degree of boldness. But the most attractive feature was the fair ladies of the vicinage.
Their tastes ran wholly to culinary affairs, and they were delighted by the explanations and ocular demonstrations, as some of them styled it, of the primitive, original and uncouth way in which the soldier prepared his limited diet. The most fascinating
and agreeable among the officers were at pains to convince them of the excellent social, intellectual and moral standing of the officers and men of the regiment. As ragged and dirty a specimen of a soldier as happened in view was pointed out as the son of the Rev. Dr. Henry Boardman, Philadelphia’s most distinguished Presbyterian divine, and it was suggested if he was of such excellent stock, it might be well imagined how high the better appearing ranked in the social scale. This twitting pleasantry was apparently accepted as verity, and as the citizens seemed reluctant to leave, it was assumed they were
agreeably entertained as well as instructed.