Part of the USA Today Network

York’s Prospect Hill Cemetery is a virtual Civil War history lesson

This impressive statue stands in the midst of a special circular section of the Prospect Hill Cemetery on North George Street near York, Pennsylvania. Scores of Union soldiers who died at the U.S. Army Military Hospital in downtown York are buried in concentric circles around the statue, and their names are carved into curved flat marble stones. Most are from Pennsylvania or New York regiments, and a fair number of those interred were mortally wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg.
During the Civil War, more than 14,000 wounded or ill men were treated at the military hospital, making it among the largest in Pennsylvania. Many of those who expired at the hospital (or at the train station while awaiting transport to the hospital as in the case of three men critically wounding at Gettysburg) were sent home to their families, but in several cases, either no word came from the family as to the body’s disposition, or they could not afford to have their loved one sent home. Hence, the dead ended up in York’s main cemetery at the time.

The York County Heritage Trust’s bookshop on East Market Street in York sells an excellent guidebook to the Civil War dead of the Prospect Hill Cemetery, and biographies of the deceased are included. These men came from all walks of life, but share a common section of a hilltop in York County, Pennsylvania, as their final resting place.

At the base of the statue are old iron cannon tubes. With the drastic reduction in the size of the army needed after the Civil War and the advancement of other artillery pieces, outdated tubes from the Union Army (and those surrendered by the Confederacy and taken into the U.S. inventory) were offered for sale to veterans organizations, communities, and even private citizens who wanted to say they owned a cannon. In addition to the tubes at Prospect Hill Cemetery, York also had four tubes at one time surrounding the even larger Civil War monument in Penn Commons (these have since be relocated to Hanover Junction).

The cemetery also contains a few graves of Confederates who died after Gettysburg, making it one of three locations in the county known to have contained Rebel dead from the Battle of Gettysburg (one near Big Mount has been lost to history, and another dead soldier was buried along the Susquehanna River near the Accomac Inn).
The walking tour of the cemetery’s sprawling grounds offers excellent exercise and a chance to learn quite a bit about York’s citizens and soldiers who played a prominent role in the community during the Civil War. Again, a guidebook is available at YCHT. Wayside markers within the cemetery point out the gravestones and memorials to dozens of these important persons, and I will share a few photos in upcoming blog entries over the next few months.
As the weather breaks in a few weeks and spring arrives, why not pick up a copy of the tour guide from YCHT and stretch those winter legs by strolling through the cemetery and having a look for yourself at these wayside markers and the U.S. Army Military Hospital’s gravesites? Fresh air, history, exercise, and a chance to reflect on those who have gone before us — it all adds up to a pleasant way to spend a sunny afternoon.
Here is a list from the U.S. government’s Veterans Affairs department of the Civil War vets buried at Prospect Hill Cemetery:
Bortuer, Jacob, d. 08/09/1881, PVT K 200TH PA INF, *
Brehl, Henry, d. 08/01/1863, PVT A 44TH NY INF, Plot: 7, *
Brown, Sylvester L, d. 09/13/1863, PVT 5TH BATTY MO LT ART, Plot: 22, *
Cooper, Simeon, d. 12/16/1863, PVT G 111TH NY INF, Plot: 29, *
Coroden, James H, SGT CO I 149 PA INF, Plot: 3, *
Dinsmore, William H, d. 08/18/1863, PVT F 140TH PA INF, Plot: 16, *
Hayden, Michael, d. 08/05/1863, PVT CO B 6 WIS INF, Died In Gen Hosp At York, Pa, Plot: 11, *
Heise, William H, PVT B 107 OHIO INF, Plot: 19, *
Herbstritt, Charles, d. 11/06/1863, SGT D 74 PA INF, Nov 6 1863, Plot: 27, *
Hunt, Ira, d. 08/13/1863, PVT CO I, 27 IND INF, Plot: 15, *
Ilgenfritz, William H, d. 10/16/1869, PVT CO K REGT 87 PA INF, Inf Tk Old Card 12/4/50, *
Kneirin, Emet, d. 10/03/1863, PVT CO E, 143RD PA INF, Died In Gen Hosp At York, Pa, Plot: 24, *
Leitner, Samuel, d. 04/03/1881, LT CO A 166TH REGT PA INF, Apr 3 1881, *
Midwig, Frantz, d. 11/01/1880, PVT CO E 87 PA INF, *
Minnich, William, d. 10/09/1877, PVT CO I REGT 9TH PA CAV, *
Moriarty, Thomas, d. 08/12/1863, PVT CO B 88 MASS INF, Plot: 14, *
Morrill, Winslow A, d. 08/12/1865, SGT CO A 18 MO INF, Plot: 13, *
Mussner, Abraham, d. 11/18/1876, PVT REGT 200 PA INF, *
Oswalt, Martin, d. 08/05/1885, PVT CO I REGT 13 US INF, *
Patent, William, d. 08/28/1863, PVT CO A 107 PA INF, Aug 28 1863, Plot: 21, *
Reedy, Thomas A, PVT CO A 73 OHIO INF, Plot: 12, *
Robinson, Henry, d. 04/20/1869, PVT CO C REGT 13 PA CAVY, *
Rollins, Franklin A, d. 08/02/1863, PVT CO D 1ST MINN INF, Plot: 9, *
Rutledge, Daniel, d. 03/14/1879, SGT CO C 166 REGT PA INF, Mar 14 1879, *
Schroeder, Henry, d. 04/05/1885, PVT CO H 200TH REGT PA INFTY, Apr 5 1885, *
Shaffer, Samuel, d. 12/02/1862, PVT CO A REGT 1 PA L ARTY, Hdst Supp By Sheldon Sons Contr Dtd 7/8/1887, *
Sharp, John, d. 08/18/1883, PVT CO B REGT 11 PA INF, Aug 18 1883, *
Smith, Henry J, CORPL CO G, 12 NH INF, Died In Gen Hosp At York, Pa, Plot: 18, *
Smith, M J, d. 12/16/1879, PVT CO A 200 PA INF, *
Snyder, Charle S, d. 01/15/1885, PVT CO A 87TH PA INF, *
Stein, August, d. 08/02/1863, PVT CO H 1 US ART, Died In Gen Hosp At York Pa, Plot: 10, *
Strawsbaugh, Danl A, d. 12/14/1882, CPL CO H REGT PA INF, Dec 14 1882, *
Sweeney, Edward, d. 02/19/1872, PVT CO H 195 PA INF, Info Fr Old Card, *
Sweeney, Isaac, d. 11/02/1880, PVT CO K 87 PA INF, *
Taylor, James, d. 04/20/1880, PVT CO D 11TH PA INF, Apr 20 1880, *
Terry, John, d. 10/16/1879, PVT PATAPSCO GDS MD INFY, *
Vogelback, Michael, d. 10/09/1863, PVT CO F 5TH OHIO INF, 10 9 1863, Plot: 25, *
Wade, D L, PVT CO K 2 MASS INF, Plot: 2, *
Weigert, Isaiah T, d. 08/14/1886, PVT CO B REGT 186 PA INFY, *
Welsh, Edmund P, d. 05/12/1882, PVT CO G, REGT 11 PA CAV, *
Welsh, Howard, d. 08/21/1878, PVT CO B REGT 187 PA INFY, 8 21 1878, *
Welsh, Joseph F, d. 08/26/1884, PVT CO G REGT 87 PA INFY, 8 26 1884, *
Werner, George, d. 08/27/1863, PVT CO A 12TH US INF, Died In Gen Hosp York Pa; Info Fr Old Card, Plot: 20, *
Williams, Elijah, *
Zech, Alexander, d. 07/17/1900, SGT BAND 2 US INF, Died At Howell Bks Cuba, *
Zeigler, Charles, d. 06/29/1881, PVT CO A 200 REGT PA INF, 6 29 1881, *
Zellers, Daniel, d. 08/25/1872, PVT CO A 87 REGT PA INF, *
Zimmerman, D, d. 07/30/1863, CO B 83 N Y INF, 7 30 1863, Plot: 4, *