Dillsburg deserter conspired with the Confederates during the Gettysburg Campaign
Franklin Repository, Mar 9, 1864.
Isaac Fishel was born in Dillsburg in northwestern York County, Pennsylvania. A Lutheran in his religious convictions, he married Leah “Muzzie” Wolf and they eventually raised a family of nine children on his prosperous farm in Carroll Township.
At the age of 28, the general laborer was drafted into Company H of the 166th Pennsylvania Infantry on October 25, 1862, and was formally mustered into service on November 16. Family lore says he deserted from the army and “hid in the mountains” to avoid military service.
He was in the Dillsburg area when J.E.B. Stuart’s column came through the region on July 1, 1863, during the Gettysburg Campaign. Unlike many other York Countians who were forced at gunpoint to serve as guides for Stuart’s movments, Fishel volunteered his services to Brig. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee’s column and helped pilot it to its destination.
Fishel was arrested, tried, and convicted. He was sentenced to be executed, but President Lincoln intervened and pardoned him. He was formally discharged in March 1864 on a surgeon’s certificate of disability.
Waynesboro (Pa.) Village Record, February 12, 1864. Courtesy of NewsInHistory.com.
Fishel was freed and allowed to go home. He lived in the Dillsburg area the rest of his life. He died in March 1904 and is buried in Dillsburg Cemetery alongside his wife Leah. He was the only York County soldier convicted of conspiring with the Confederates during the Gettysburg Campaign, although it is known that several civilians openly welcomed and supported the Rebels during their various stays in York County in June and July 1863.