York Town Square

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York’s Prospect Hill Cemetery bears rich Civil War tales

When vandals toppled more than 375 tombstones at York’s Prospect Hill Cemetery in October 2005, they desecrated a community treasure.
The cemetery bears countless stories from York County’s past. …

York County Heritage Trust’s archivist Lila Fourhman-Shaull recently penned a booklet telling many of those tales. Lila’s “A Walking Tour of Civil War-Era Residents at Prospect Hill Cemetery, York, Pa.” covers just one period of that history.
For example, it points out a flat marker near the cemetery office bearing a Stars and Bars with an inscription: “Remembering 5 unknown dead, 3 here and 2 near.” The 21st Century Confederate Legion put the marker there.
I’m thinking the marker commemorates Confederate dead from the Battle of Gettysburg.
It is known that the U.S. Army Military Hospital, headquartered in York’s Penn Park, treated rebel soldiers, along with hundreds of Union wounded. One account suggests that military doctors treated the Confederates at an annex — the still-standing Washington Hall — after chief surgeon Henry Palmer refused to treat the enemy soldiers.
More than 6,000 gray-clad soldiers occupied York in late June 1863. It’s possible some died here from ill health or old wounds.
Some of the Gettysburg soldiers in blue, who died at the hospital during its three-year run, are buried at Prospect Hill’s Soldiers Circle, not far from the Confederate marker.
If you have a view on why Confederates are buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery, please let me know.
Meanwhile, Lila’s booklet is available for $5.95 at the Heritage Trust, www.yorkheritage.org, or at the cemetery office.
Police popped the last bunch that desecrated the cemetery. Let’s hope they catch these vandals before they sober up and take off.