Yankee cavalry recovers part of the York ransom
Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early arrived in York on the afternoon of Sunday, June 28, 1863. He established his headquarters in the sheriff’s office in the columned York County Courthouse on East Market Street. He ordered an aide, William Thornton, to transcribe a requisition for supplies–165 barrels of flour or 28,000 pounds of baked bread; 3,500 pounds of sugar; 1,650 pounds of coffee; 300 gallons of molasses; 1,200 pounds of salt; 32,000 pounds of fresh beef or 21,000 pounds of bacon or pork. All were to be delivered at the market house on Main Street at 4:00 p.m. Early’s chief quartermaster, Major Charles E. Snodgrass, wrote a second requisition, calling for clothing – 2,000 pairs of shoes or boots, 1,000 pairs of socks and 1,000 felt hats and $100,000.
Chief Burgess David Small informed Early that the town’s banks had already sent off their assets, and could not raise that amount of cash. Snodgrass eventually wrote a receipt for $28,610 collected from York’s citizens, as well as the remaining goods that had been requisitioned. Attorney James W. Latimer “very foolishly gave them one hundred dollars” John Evans donated $50, W. Latimer Small $25, and the firm of P. A. & S. Small contributed $752. Gettysburg resident Sallie Broadhead wrote in her diary that the people of York were “dunce-like” in paying this ransom to the Rebels, “which they pocketed.”
Following the Battle of Gettysburg, Union cavalry of Judson Kilpatrick‘s division captured scores of Confederate supply wagons retreating across South Mountain near Monterey Pass. Among the diverse items in the wagons were supplies taken from York to fulfill General Early’s controversial ransom, as well as personal property stolen from York County residents. However, the goods were never returned to their owners. Instead, most received the torch.
“It is impossible to tell the number of vehicles of all descriptions captured; the road was crowded with them for at least ten miles; there were ambulances filled with wounded officers and privates from the battle-field of Gettysburgh; ambulances containing Ewell’s, Early’s, and other officers’ baggage; ambulances filled with delicacies stolen from stores in Pennsylvania; four and six mule and horse teams; some filled with barrels of molasses, others with flour, hams, meal, clothing, ladies’ and childrens’ shoes and underclothing–mainly obtained from the frightened inhabitants of York County and vicinity; wagons stolen from Uncle Sam with the “U. S.” still upon them; wagons stolen from Pennsylvania and loyal Maryland farms; wagons and ambulances made for the confederate government, (a poor imitation of our own;) wagons from North Carolina and wagons from Tennessee–a mongrel train—all stolen, or what is still worse—paid for in confederate notes, made payable six months after the recognition of the Southern Confederacy by the United States Government–or in other words–never.
After daylight a lot of the wagons were parked and burnt at Ringgold; hundreds were burned in the road where captured. Our men filled their canteens with molasses and replenished their stock of clothing, sugar, salt, and bacon. Some very expensive confederate uniforms were captured; several gold watches and articles of jewelry were found. A few of the captured wagons (the best) were saved, and to the balance, with contents, the torch was applied. The road here is more like the bed of a rocky river, the dirt having been washed away by the heavy rains, left large boulders exposed; where there were no boulders, there was mud and water. Over this road the troopers dashed and splashed in the midnight darkness, yelling like demons. Is it no wonder that the confederate soldiers unanimously declare that they never will visit Pennsylvania again?”
Frank Moore, The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events. Volume 7, Page 188.