York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

Rebel Gen. Jubal Early to Yorkers: ‘Then I shall have to take the hats from your heads, and shoes from your feet, and the coats from your backs’

The York Gazette published invading Gen. Jubal Early’s requisitions of York’s residents in its June 30, 1863, edition. It was printed on or about the time that the last Confederates were leaving town after staying for a little less than two days. A local researcher has discovered what happened to some of the goods gained in the requisition. Background posts: Invaders put off by earthy Pennsylvania women, Owner seeks info on old toll house and York County Civil War, by the numbers.

For years, it’s been known that part of the goods received from the Confederate requisition of York in late June 1863 wound up in the stomachs of the 6,000-plus invaders.
Some remained in or on the bodies of the rebels after roughly 30 percent of Gen. Jubal Early’s division sustained casualties in the subsequent Battle of Gettysburg Civil War.
Now author and fellow blogger Scott Mingus has put forth a piece about what happened to part of the requisitioned goods… .

The headline to his Cannonball post “Yankee cavalry recovers part of the York ransom” explains the fate of some supplies.
Frugal York residents held enough back from the Confederates, though, to equip numerous wagons with supplies to treat the wounded in the aftemath of the Gettysburg battle. And there was enough to supply the Penn Park hospital in its frantic efforts to treat hundreds of wounded soldiers.
This excerpt from my “East of Gettysburg,” explains Jubal Early’s requisition process ( let’s call it a post-surrender act of extortion):

The columned York County Courthouse on East Market Street, the seat of county power, stood as an apt and inviting headquarters for the imposing Early.
The division commander, settling into the sheriff’s office, now knew that he could have his way with his hosts. He ordered his aides to write down two requisitions.
The first focused on food: 165 barrels of flour or 28,000 pounds of baked bread; 3,500 pounds of sugar; 1,650 pounds of coffee; 300 gallons of molasses; 1,200 pounds of salt; 32,000 pounds of fresh beef or 21,000 pounds of bacon or pork.
In the second, Early’s chief quartermaster, Maj. C.E. Snodgrass, called for clothing to aid the soldiers in their long marches: 2,000 pairs of shoes or boots, 1,000 pairs of socks and 1,000 felt hats.
Snodgrass concluded his list with a demand that would cause residents to gasp: $100,000.
At 2 p.m., Early ordered the tolling of the courthouse bell, the customary way to call a meeting.
Chief Burgess David Small and a mixed bunch of the town’s leaders and curious residents crowded into the courtroom.
“I have taken possession of your town,” Early began, “by authority of the Confederate government.”
The town was safe, he said. Private property would be protected. Guards stood watch over public buildings. Taverns were closed. But his men needed food and clothing.
Early wanted his yet unlisted requisitions filled at once. If the town did not comply, his soldiers would enter stores and houses to seize the items.
After the reading of the demands, David Small stood to object: The $100,000 demand could not be met.
Early persisted.
“Then I shall have to take the hats from your heads, and shoes from your feet, and the coats from your backs,” he said, “for I must have them, and I must have some money too.”
The general abruptly left the room.
Community leaders huddled in the courtroom to figure the next step. They appointed collectors, and these men fanned out.
The food requisition called for delivery to the market houses in Centre Square by 4 p.m. The people of York had only a couple of hours to meet the demand for food and supplies.
“… (E)very effort was made to fill the requisition,” David Small’s York Gazette reported.
Early was not as pleased with the town’s contributions to
ward the $100,000. The amount added up to $28,600.
The general would remind York’s leaders numerous times in the next 24 hours of his displeasure with their efforts to satisfy his demand for money.