Cassandra Small’s, James Latimer’s Civil War letters from York will ‘never be forgotten’
Cassandra Small, daughter of leading York County merchant P.A. Small, left behind the most complete and revealing first-person account of the Confederate occupation of York. (See photo below of a Small played by a living historian.) Attorney James Latimer (see photo below) also wrote letters about the rebel invasion in late-June 1863. Their writings appear on virtual exhibit. Background posts: Panel explores the Confederates’ pre-Gettysburg occupation of York and Rebs’ short York visit creates long memories and Burial site reportedly found for rebel officer who occupied York.
As the York County Heritage Trust prepared to construct a Civil War exhibit about five years ago at its 250 E. Market St. museum, some folks at the York Daily Record/Sunday News were working to put that exhibit on the Web.
The idea was that museum patrons could view the exhibit in person, and virtual patrons could benefit from it online.
Today, both exhibits remain intact and contain some hard-to-get content… .
M.J. Meredith portrays Cassandra Small at a tea in the Bonham House.
The actual exhibit at the Heritage Trust is the first permanent showing of the York County in the Civil War and particularly the rebel occupation of York.
The virtual exhibit can be viewed by clicking here.
An overlooked part of the virtual exhibit is that full transcripts of the best-known first-person accounts of York at the time of the occupation appears there, courtesy of the Heritage Trust’s collection.
Cassandra Morris Small, not to be confused with her aunt Cassandra Small Morris, wrote to her cousin Lissie Latimer about the invasion. (Click here to see those letters, which also appear in my history “East of Gettysburg.”)
Her letters contain many points of interest, but the most interesting is her tone. They read as if she’s a teenager but Cassandra Small was then in her 30s.
James Latimer, a Republican man about town, wrote to his brother Bartow. (Click here to see those letters.)
His letters are marked by his disdain for the lack of preparations for the pending Confederate invasion, probably fueled by his differences with Democratic-led York.
A curious thing is that Latimer is troubled but inaction, but he never donned a blue uniform, although of service age.
Both Small and Latimer, writing as people of privilege, offer fascinating accounts.
And to Cassandra Small, I owe more than just a insightful first-person account of the Confederate activities in and around York. She gave me the name of my first book, “Never to be Forgotten,” published 10 years ago this year.
Her letters stated: “We would rather gives the rascals twice over what we did than have them back! Oh, I could fill sheet after sheet with all their audacious villanies. It is a matter never to be forgotten.”
Both the actual and virtual exhibits are design so those days when the rebels raided York County are always remembered.
To view all York Town Square’s Civil War posts from the start, click here.
Small and Latimer photos courtesy York County Heritage Trust