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Dover plaque dedication was a blast

Union Fire & Hose Company, Dover, Pa. (Google street view photo)
Union Fire & Hose Company, Dover, Pa.
(Google street view photo)

I found an account in the November 24, 1907 York Gazette of the original dedication of the Civil War plaque that is now in front of the Dover Fire Company. I checked to see if friend and Civil War expert Scott Mingus had written about it on his Cannonball blog. He had, six years ago, using a Philadelphia Inquirer piece as a source.

Since the Gazette article is longer, with additional details that might be of interest only locally, such as the parade disorganization, broken windows and which “secret societies” participated, I have transcribed the Gazette article below:

Tablet to Fitz-Hugh Lee’s Generosity Unveiled

With imposing military and civic ceremony display a tablet commemorating the paroling of Union soldiers by Confederate officers and other events leading up to the battle of Gettysburg, one of the most important battles in the history of the world, was yesterday unveiled at Dover in the presence of several hundred people. Yesterday was without doubt the biggest of all days ever celebrated in Dover and people from all over the county turned out to see the parade and unveiling, including about 250 people from this city [York].

The tablet commemorates the paroling of about 200 Union soldiers by the Confederate generals, Early and Fitzhugh Lee. These soldiers were paroled in the house which is owned by Amos Swartz. It is upon this building that the tablet, which is made of cast iron and copper plated, has been erected. The tablet was purchased with money raised by subscriptions of the people of Dover.

Miss Mary Lanius unveiled the tablet. Robert C. Bair of this city, in a very interesting way told of the connection that Dover had played in the Civil War and emphasizing the part it took in reference to the battle of Gettysburg.

The entire town was decorated with American flags and presented a very beautiful appearance, bedecked in its holiday attire. Business in the borough was at a standstill and every person in the borough congregated in the square where the ceremonies took place.

The only unpleasant part of the general celebration was the hitch in carrying out of the plans of the parade. It seems that all arrangements for that part of the exercises had been left in the hands of Captain Kraber of the York Cadets and when the Cadets arrived, every person was apparently waiting for their orders. Captain Kraber was, however, forced to test the cannon which was taken to Dover to fire the salute and as a result half of the people who had been scheduled to take part in the parade did not participate owing to the fact that no one knew where he was to fall in line. Many windows were broken in nearby houses by the recoil of the cannon.

The line of the parade formed as follows: Chief Marshal, W. Fissel; City Band, Company A, Eight Regiment, Captain Adam Garver, commanding; York Cadets, Captain W.C. Kraber, commanding; Linden Band; Degree team of the Modern Woodmen of America, Captain A.W. Moore, commanding; Dover Band; Junior Order United American Mechanics of Dover; P.O.S. of A. of Dover; Mt. Royal Band; P.O.S. of A. Camps No. 443 Davidsburg, No. 610 Hall, No. 169 Wellsville.

After the parade which covered the principal streets of the borough, the participating companies congregated in the square. The York Cadets fired a salute of three volleys and the exercises were on. Although the weather was very inclement, it did not dampen the ardor of those who made the addresses and their speeches were very much enjoyed.

The order of exercises was a follows: Opening prayer, the Rev. A.C. Fastnacht; address of welcome, W.C. Kraber; historical address by Robert C. Bair. Following this Miss Mary N. Lanius, regent of the Yorktown chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, unveiled the tablet with assistances of members of the chapter, which was followed by the oration by the Rev. Dr. A.R. Steck, and the benediction by the Rev. M. Shultz.

“General J.E.B. Stuart, with three brigades of Confederate cavalry, commanded by Wade Hampton, Fitzhugh Lee, and John R. Chamblis[s], in all 6,000 men, entered Dover the morning of July 1, 1863, the day the battle of Gettysburg opened. Stuart had been defeated by Kilpatrick’s cavalry at Hanover, June 30, and marched all night with a train of 125 wagons through Jefferson to Dover to meet Early’s infantry division, which had taken possession of York on June 28. After Stuart had heard that Early had withdrawn from York, he marched with his entire column toward Carlisle, and from thence to Gettysburg. Before leaving Dover he paroled about 250 Union prisoners who had been captured at Hanover and elsewhere.
Erected by the citizens of Dover.”

I don’t when or why the plaque was moved to the fire company, but I’m sure there are Dover historians who can tell us. I don’t know either why the D.A.R. was involved. Perhaps they wanted female participation and didn’t know of any nearby chapters of the Daughters of Union Veterans.

This link with take you to Scott Mingus’s 2009 post.