Universal York

Part of the USA Today Network

York County’s Col. George Hay of the 87th PVI missed by his officers and men

Col. George Hay (From Find A Grave website)
Col. George Hay (From Find A Grave website)

In late May 1863, the York Gazette reported the 87th Regiment, a mostly locally raised Civil War regiment, was losing its commander. The item read:

RESIGNATION OF COL. GEORGE HAY–This gentleman being compelled on account of impaired health to resign the command of the 87th Penna. Regiment, has arrived in this borough. His men part with him with great regret, as he was universally esteemed by them, both for the interest he always took in their welfare and his soldier qualities. His health, for some time past, has been of such a nature as to unfit him for active service, but his attachment to his regiment and a soldier’s life induced him to remain longer with his command than his health warranted. We hope his health may speedily be restored.

The affection in which Hay was held seems to be sincere. The next Gazette, published in early June contains a longer article. It reads, in part:

RESIGNATION OF COL. GEORGE HAY–RESOLUTIONS OF THE REGIMENT IN REFERENCE THERETO.–At a meeting of the officers of the 87th regiment Penna. Vol. Infantry, of which Lieut. Col. John W. Schall was president, a committee was appointed to draft resolutions expressing the sentiments of the regiment in relation to the resignation of Col. George Hay, the following were submitted and read before the regiment and unanimously adopted:

This introduction is followed by quite a few items of resolution recognizing his concern for his men, including “for evidence of his abilities as an officer and for his generous disposition on all occasions–himself ever preferring exposure to the inclemency of the elements rather than any of his command should suffer or find themselves where he was not ready and willing to lead.”

The resolutions were drafted in the field as the article is datelined: “Webster, West Va. May 15, 1863.”

Hay, who was almost 54 at the time, did recover when he got back to York where he could get proper medical treatment and not be exposed “to the inclemency of the elements” any longer. Click this link for a brief biography of Col. Hay.

Click here for my previous posts on the Civil War.

Coming soon: The Fiery Trial: York County’s Civil War Experience opening June 29 at York County Heritage Trust.