Confederate occupation of York–the aftermath
The countryside and the streets of York, Hanover, Wrightsville, Dover and other towns that witnessed the 1863 invasion were quiet once again. It was time to count up the losses of the farmers and merchants and access the damage.
As reported in the June 30 weekly York Gazette, the citizens were “completely cut off” from the rest of the world. The Gazette showed good judgment by not repeating rumors, which were sure to be plentiful. In concluding the long article, referred to in my two previous posts, about the occupation, the editors summed up the damage, express thankfulness that there was little destruction and commended the citizens for their fortitude. It concludes:
Beyond the destruction of the switches, portions of the track and of the telegraph, and some company cars yet remaining here, no public property, as far as we are informed, was destroyed.–Several cars, the property of citizens, were not disturbed. Last evening Gordon’s Brigade returned through town and encamped several miles from the borough on the Carlisle road. This morning the other Brigades followed westward, with their artillery and munitions. The town is now no longer occupied by the enemy in force, but a few pickets and scouts are passing through town as we write and they are no doubt yet in the surrounding country. Let us hope that they are on the retreat, and that the invasion of our fair State by the enemy may soon be at an end and never again be repeated.
We have no news from the outside world being completely cut off from all sources of intelligence. There are rumors which we shall not now repeat for the want of reliability.
While the enemy was in occupation of the town the citizens were left free to pass through the streets from place to place, though passes were required to get out of town. Many horses and cattle were taken and the losses of our farmers are heavy, though during the whole of the latter part of last week large droves with wagons were passing through across the river. In several cases the horses were returned on identification and demand of the owners. Guards were placed at the Hotels, Stores, &c., and the town was kept comparatively quiet, the soldiers being under very strict discipline. Places of business were generally closed, though in many cases were on request opened and articles were purchased, the soldiers and officers paying for them in Confederate money. So far as we are informed their promise to respect the rights of person and property were kept.
The time the enemy remained here in force was nearly two days, and long weary days they were, rendered more dark by the gloomy weather which prevailed. The apprehension, excitement and humiliation at the presence of the enemy, together with the total suppression of business, cast a universal gloom over the place, which we pray we may be spared from ever beholding again. But the people submitted with becoming resignation to imperious necessity. What shall yet be our fate of the fate of our beloved country must be developed by the future. God grant us a happy deliverance.
The invading army wouldn’t be back, but in a few days York County would once again be very affected by the war. As soon as word was received of the carnage at Gettysburg, wagons upon wagons were loaded with food and supplies to care for the wounded, many of whom would be transported, as soon as they were able, to the U.S. Army Hospital on York’s Penn Common.
York County Heritage Trust’s major exhibit: The Fiery Trial: York County’s Civil War Experience is now open. It can be visited from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays at 250 East Market Street, York. There will be special hours July 4th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with half price admission. There is no charge for members, and memberships are always available.