York Town Square

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Reader to magazine: Remember, York County was involved in the Civil War

The photographs made by York Township’s Dianne Bowders are favorites of this blog. She finds landscapes, scenery and landmarks that just seem to fit here. And her photographs are perfectly composed and she finds just the right light. Here, she captures the Soldiers’ Circle at Prospect Hill Cemetery on a cold day. And Dianne always writes informative captions for her photos, which she submits to ydr.com’s Your Photos. Here her description of this scene: ‘A lone sentinel guards the only Federal cemetery in York County. Soldier’s Circle is located inside the cemetery entrance, just north of the J.A. Dempwolf designed gatehouse, cemetery office. It is a final resting place to 162 known and two unknown soldiers killed during the Civil War, including those who died at the Battle of Gettysburg.’ Check out these other photographs by Dianne Bowders. Also of interest: Cartridge Box helps tell story of Civil War military hospital in York, Pa.

Luther B. Sowers is a student of York County history.

So when he sees something missing from published accounts about the county’s rich past, he does not hesitate to speak out.

He saw such an omission in the May/June issue of ‘Pennsylvania Magazine’ involving the Civil War.

He notes the author of a piece “Rebels in the Street” failed to mention York County’s involvement in the war.

He quoted an excerpt from my “East of Gettysburg:”

“Six thousand soldiers in Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army march through York, PA, as the citizens, decked in their Sunday best, walk to church. Soldiers pull down the American flag, while Gen Jubal Early makes a play for money and supplies from townspeople. Twelve miles east, men in gray bombard Wrightsville with the goal of crossing the Susquehanna River … Some in York County buck up against the rebel onslaught. Others bend. But the gray shadow moves 30 miles west when Lee recalls his troops to a brewing battle in Gettysburg. James McClure … tells the story of the Confederate invasion the lasting footprint the rebels made on York County soil … .”

Luther concluded his note:

“If you can advise Mr. Soodalter and other readers in some manner that York County played a part in the battle that, ‘Most historians agree … was the game changer of the Civil War’, I shall be appreciative.”

First, we appreciate Luther’s referencing “East.”

Second, we might be a little forgiving if others don’t remember our Civil War role. Even we didn’t really write about it much before 2000. (For background, see: Pro/Con: Should York’s fathers surrendered to the Confederates in the Civil War.)

But now we are engaged and thanks for Luther and others, the rest of the world hopefully will become so.

Also of interest

Scott Mingus and I  are asking families to share more memories from their York County Civil War ancestors.
We  compiled such stories and photographs into a book, “Civil War Voices from York County, Pa.:

Remembering the Rebellion and the Gettysburg Campaign.” That work was published on April 2011 in connection with the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War in April 2011.

Now we plan a sequel, to be published before the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and the Confederate occupation of York County in 2013.

To share information, contact Mingus at scottmingus@yahoo.com or 1383 Sterling Drive, York 17404.