York Town Square

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Signs point to York, ‘Prize of the Confederacy,’ and other York/Adams Civil War wonders

PennDOT has installed 73 of these “wayfinding” signs in York, Adams and four other counties. Twenty-four of the signs are in York and Adams counties pointing motorists to Civil War sites. Background posts: The horrors of the Civil War struck York County right after Sumter, Resources for York/Adams history increasingly posted on Web and Return Camp Security sign: ‘No questions will be asked’.

Motorists around here might be noticing a bunch of new signs – Civil War Trail markers – along the road.
They’re designed to point people to Gettysburg campaign sites – including the curiously named ‘York: Prize of the Confederacy’ – that are part of this region’s Civil War Trail program.
These sites will become part of tourism efforts already in place in Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina… .

The signs are linked to Tom Huntington’s book, “Pennsylvania’s Civil War Trails: The Guide to Battle Sites, Monuments, Museums, and Towns.”
This book serves as a road trip companion for Pennsylvania’s Civil War Trails initiative. The VisitPA Web site suggests and promotes itineraries for seven road trips in the region, including sites in York, Hanover and Wrightsville.
For example, for a day in York, Civil War Trails has organized a tour called: “York, the Prize of the Confederacy.”
Not sure about the accuracy of that title.
The opening sentence notes that York was the largest town north of the Mason-Dixon Line occupied by the Confederate Army. It fails to note that it was the largest to surrender to that army.
Ah, marketing.
So students of the Civil War will want to dig into other available material to understand the Civil War around here. (Visit Scott Mingus’ Cannonball blog.)
Here’s Civil War Trail’s full description for the York day trip:

In 1863, the White Rose City became the largest town north of the Mason-Dixon Line occupied by the Confederate Army. General Jubal Early was in command of the occupying forces; he held the town for ransom, took over the agricultural mills, and threatened to burn down the railcar shops before being called to join the Confederate troops massing at Gettysburg.
Start your roadtrip at the Historical Society Museum and Library, where you can see “The Civil War Comes to York County,” an exhibit that includes an impressive display of original artifacts. The exhibit illustrates the war’s effect on the local community and explains the specifics of the Confederate occupation of June 1863. One of the best things about this museum is that your pass is good for admission to all York County Heritage Trust sites–which will come in handy later.
Next, visit Penn Commons Park and the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial. Penn Commons Park was the location of the U.S. Army Hospital during the Civil War. Established in July of 1862, the facility treated 14,000 wounded, including 2,500 wounded in Gettysburg. During the Confederate invasion of 1863, it was occupied by Hokes Brigade of Early’s Division.
Next on your list is the Agricultural and Industrial Museum (use your York County Heritage Trust pass). Here you can learn why the town was so attractive to the Confederate invaders. You can even see a fully operational 1820s water-powered gristmill–the same type occupied by rebel forces west of town.
Museums are great for specifics, but you probably need an overall impression of the lay of the land, too. Get yourself oriented by taking a Walking Tour of Historic York. Pick up a booklet at the Historical Society Gift Shop, and then explore sites that recall prominent individuals and events.