York County hears call “To Arms! To Arms!”
The June 16, 1863 weekly York Gazette carried the article below copied from the Harrisburg Telegraph newspaper the day before. Citizens of south central Pennsylvania were beginning to realize the imminent threat of invasion was very real.
To Arms! To Arms!
The Invasion of the Northern States–The Entire Rebel Army in Motion, Menacing Pennsylvania
This city [Harrisburg], last night was filled with the most painful rumors, relating to a defeat of the cavalry force, under General Milroy, at Winchester, Va., the falling back of Milroy to Martinsburg, and the occupation of the former locality by a rebel force. We are not able to indicate the extent of the force under Milroy, or the numbers which he was compelled to oppose, but it seems clear that he was defeated, and that a rebel force is now in possession of Winchester.
From semi-official sources we learn that the entire rebel army is moving northward, and that Lee is at the head of the forces.–The indications are that the rebels contemplate the invasion at least of Maryland and Pennsylvania, and if proper, the entire North. It is certain that the great crisis has come, and the people must be prepared for any emergency–prepared to defend their homes from the incursion of a bloody and desperate foe. In every locality, military organizations should at once be effected. Every man who is able to bear arms must hold himself in readiness to obey a summons to join in this general defense and aid in driving the rebel enemy from the State, should he make his appearance within our borders.
The State is now entirely engaged in cooperating with the national authorities. It is possible that a proclamation will be issued today, calling for troops, and hence the urgency of the people being prepared to respond. Every means at the command of the people should at once be prepared to respond to this call. Let no one mistake crisis. It will require all our energy, all our promptness, successfully to resist this invasion.–But it must, it will be resisted, if the people rally in support of the authorities.
–An Engineer force will proceed today in the erection of earthworks and other defenses on the Cumberland side of the Susquehanna River, immediately opposite Harrisburg. Other works will also be erected at other points, both along the river and on the different railroads. These preparations are all under the direction of experienced officers.
Coming next week: The Fiery Trial: York County’s Civil War Experience opening June 29 at York County Heritage Trust.