York County Parks planning Gettysburg bus trip! Public welcome!

Wiedrich's New York battery monument on East Cemetery Hill at Gettysburg. Scott Mingus photo.

Wiedrich’s New York battery monument on East Cemetery Hill at Gettysburg. Scott Mingus photo.

The York County Department of Parks and Recreation will host a Geology and History of the Gettysburg National Military Park bus trip from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday, October 11, 2015. Departure will be from the John Rudy County Park Administrative Headquarters parking area, 400 Mundis Race Road, York PA 17406.

Participants will travel to this famous battlefield by school bus to learn how the geology played a role in the battle. Some of the history will be told throughout the day that relates to the geology. Don’t miss the stop where you will discover dinosaur foot tracks. The trip will be led by Parks Program Coordinator Jeri Jones. Participants must supply their own lunch and beverage. Cameras are welcome.

Cost of the trip is $30 per person which includes the school bus transportation and guidebook.   Registration begins on August 3rd. To register, call the York County Parks at 717-840-7440.

For information on this and other programs, go to www.yorkcountyparks.org.

 

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Remembering a fallen Civil War soldier from York, Pa.

Photo by Ann Marie Ahlers, 87th Pennsylvania Reenactors

Photo by Ann Marie Ahlers, Company C, 87th Pennsylvania Reenactors

Several thousand men from York County, Pennsylvania, served in the Union army during the Civil War, scattered among more than two dozen regiments or artillery batteries. A few units had relatively large numbers of York Countians, including the 166th Pennsylvania and 200th Pennsylvania. However, by far, the largest concentration of local men and boys served in the 87th Pennsylvania, where the majority of the individual companies came from this region.

One of their ill-fated soldiers was Lt. John Frederick Spangler.

On Memorial Day weekend, 2015, more than 75 people gathered at York’s Greenmount Cemetery to remember Lieutenant Spangler with a formal memorial service. A television crew from Channel 8 was there to cover the event, which they featured on a subsequent news broadcast.

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York County antebellum militia groups enlisted in 16th PA at start of Civil War

Camp Scott 2

At the start of the Civil War, across both the North and South tens of thousands of young men enlisted in the Union and Confederate armies. Some had previous military experience, including combat action in the Mexican War or other conflicts such as the Seminole War or Plains Indians wars. Others had no experience whatsoever. In between were the many local militia units, some of which had been in existence since the 18th century. These were usually honorary organizations, filled with civic leaders and the cream of society. Their main activities before the war were primarily ceremonial and social.

In York County, Pennsylvania, four such pre-existing militia units answered President Abraham Lincoln’s April 1861 call to arms. Two of these companies were from York; the other two hailed from the Hanover area.

A prominent Yorker, Thomas A. Ziegle, received a commission from the governor of Pennsylvania and helped raise men for what would become the 16th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. The roughly 1,000-man regiment would serve for a term of 3 months. Optimism reigned; few citizens believed the war would last much longer than that.

Here is 19th century local historian George Prowell’s account of the formation of this short-term regiment (pages 357-58 in Prowell’s History of York County).

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York CWRT to discuss “Mosby’s Rangers” on July 15

Mosby

The York Civil War Round Table will feature author Eric W. Buckland at its monthly meeting on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mr. Buckland will present a PowerPoint talk based on his five books on the 43rd Battalion Virginia Cavalry – “Mosby’s Rangers”. The program will present the details of the wartime and post-war lives of some of those men.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the York County Heritage Trust at 250 E. Market Street, York, Pennsylvania, 17403. The public is welcome; no reservations are required. The meeting is free, as is on-street parking.

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York soldier wrote home from the Gettysburg battlefield

IMG-20140629-00197A Union artillery battery rumbles into position on the Gettysburg battlefield in this Scott Mingus photograph of a section of the Gettysburg Cyclorama.

The Rudisills remain one of the longstanding families in York County, Pennsylvania, dating back to the 18th century. During the Civil War, Abraham Rudisill served as a Union artilleryman in Battery G, 1st Pennsylvania Light Artillery. He was in his early 50s at the time of the summer campaign in June 1863 as the Army of the Potomac hustled northward to intercept Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.

Rudisill, a printer of religious materials by trade, frequently wrote home to various family members. On July 1, as his battery (commanded by Captain Bruce Ricketts) paused near Taneytown, Maryland, on its way north toward Pennsylvania, he began a letter to his wife back home in York.

He would add more information over the next few days.

Corporal Abraham Rudisill would be one of a handful of men from York County to fight in the battle of Gettysburg and leave a written record of his experiences.

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Savas Beatie authors to sign books at Gettysburg for the anniversary week

Several Savas Beatie books which have won literary awards will be available at various book signings in Gettysburg during the anniversary week.

Several Savas Beatie books which have won literary awards will be available at various book signings in Gettysburg during the anniversary week.

Savas Beatie LLC, a leading independent publisher of Civil War and military history books, has announced the schedule for its authors who will be signing books are various locations in and around Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, during the 152nd Anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg. Stop by and pick up a book or two for your summer reading needs!

June 26:
2:00 – 4:00 pm Tom Ryan – Gettysburg Visitor Center
June 27th:
9:00 am – 3:00 pm Mike Priest – Gettysburg Visitor Center
10:00 am – 1:00 pm Chris Brenneman – Gettysburg Heritage Center
10:00 am – 2:00 pm Wayne Motts & Jim Hessler – Gettysburg Civil War Show
10:00 am – 2:00 pm Tom Ryan – Gettysburg Civil War Show
10:00 am – 2:00 pm Dick Sommers – Gettysburg Visitor Center

10:00 am – 2:00 pm Scott Mingus – Corbit’s Charge Commemoration, Westminster MD

June 28th:
10:00 am – 1:00 pm Chris Brenneman – Gettysburg Visitor Center
June 30th:
7:00 – 9:00 pm Eric Wittenberg – Seminary Ridge Museum
July 1:
8:00 – 12:00 Scott Mingus – Gettysburg Visitor Center
9:00 am – 3:00 pm Mike Priest – Gettysburg Visitor Center
10:00 am – 1:00 pm Bill Dowling – Gettysburg Visitor Center
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm – Tom Ryan – Gettysburg Visitor Center
July 2:
10:00 am – 12:00 pm Frank Varney – Gettysburg Heritage Center
10:00 am – 1:00 pm Bill Dowling – Gettysburg Visitor Center
10:00 am – 1:00 pm Tom Clemens – Gettysburg Heritage Center
10:00 am – 2:00 pm Steve Stanley & J.D. Petruzzi – Gettysburg Visitor Center
10:00 am – 2:00 pm Tom Ryan – Gettysburg Visitor Center
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Frank Varney – Gettysburg Visitor Center
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Tom Clemens – Gettysburg Visitor Center
2:00 – 4:00 Phil Tucker – Gettysburg Visitor Center
2:00 – 4:00 George Newton – Gettysburg Visitor Center
4:00 pm – 6:00 pm Tom Ryan – Gettysburg Heritage Center
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm Steve Stanley & J.D. Petruzzi Gettysburg Heritage Center
July 3:
10:00 am – 12:00 pm Frank Varney – Gettysburg Heritage Center
10:00 am – 12:00 pm Bill Dowling – Gettysburg Visitor Center
10:00 am – 12:00 pm Wayne Motts & Jim Hessler – Gettysburg Visitor Center
10:00 am – 2:00 pm Steve Stanley & J.D. Petruzzi – Gettysburg Visitor Center
10:00 am – 2:00 pm – Tom Ryan – Gettysburg Visitor Center
11:00 am – 3:00 pm Brad Gottfried – Gettysburg Visitor Center
1:00 – 3:00 pm Frank Varney – Gettysburg Visitor Center
1:30 – 3:30 pm Jim Hessler and Wayne Motts – American History Store
4:00 pm – 6:00 pm Tom Ryan – Gettysburg Heritage Center
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm Jim Hessler and Wayne Motts – Gettysburg Heritage Center
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm Steve Stanley & J.D. Petruzzi Gettysburg Heritage Center
July 4:
10:00 am – 12:00 pm Frank Varney – Gettysburg Heritage Center
9:00 am – 12: 00 pm Phill Greenwalt – Gettysburg Sacred Trust Event
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Chris Brenneman – Gettysburg Heritage Center
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm Steve Stanley & J.D. Petruzzi Gettysburg Heritage Center
July 5:
10:00 am – 12:00 pm Ed Alexander – Gettysburg Heritage Center
10:00 am – 12:00 pm Frank Varney – Gettysburg Heritage Center
9:00 am – 12:00 pm Chris Brenneman – Gettysburg Sacred Trust Event
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm Ed Alexander – Gettysburg Sacred Trust Event
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Sue Boardman and Bill Dowling – American History Store
2:00 – 4:00 pm Frank Varney – The Midtown Scholar Bookstore
6:30 pm Chris Brenneman – American History Store
July 6:
9:00 am – 3:00 pm Mike Priest – Gettysburg Visitor Center
10:00 am – 2:00 pm Steve Stanley & J.D. Petruzzi – Gettysburg Visitor Center
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Frank Varney – Gettysburg Visitor Center

 

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Thomas Jefferson wrote letter to residents of Newberry Township in 1801

Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson in his first year of his presidency sent a letter thanking several supporters in Newberry Township in northeastern York County. His letter later appeared in various friendly newspapers around the country. A copy of the Connecticut Courant from June 1, 1801, has been listed for auction on eBay and the seller is featuring the article reprinting Jefferson’s letter. While not Civil War related as most of my blog posts, nevertheless I found this interesting.

Newberry Township in the early 19th century was a progressive community, with a regular lyceum offering debates and lectures on a wide-ranging, diverse set of topics from slavery to social reform. Traveling speakers, many of them Quakers, came from throughout the area to espouse their views. Residents of the township became an early force in the anti-slavery movement, and much of the initial traffic on the Underground Railroad in York County passed through Lewisberry and the nearby farms and Quaker meeting houses.

With such a literary and social focus, it is no wonder that the citizens’ support for Jefferson’s candidacy did not go unnoticed or unanswered.

Here is the newly elected third president’s response to Newberry Township, as printing in the Hartford newspaper…

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Hupp’s Hill Civil War Park near Strasburg, Va.: Part 2

IMG-20150619-00118In Part 1 of this two-part Cannonball blog entry (sponsored by the York Daily Record newspaper), we will go inside the Hupp’s Hill Cedar Creek Museum. The site is just north of Strasburg, Virginia, alongside U.S. Route 11 (the old Valley Turnpike which played played such a large role in the economic development of the region as well as during the Civil War).

Let’s have a look at the displays in the small, but interesting museum.

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Hupp’s Hill Civil War Park near Strasburg, Va.: Part 1

IMG-20150619-00144On my way to a speaking engagement on “The Northern Central Railway in the Civil War” at the Civil War Institute at James Madison University, I stopped by the small, but interesting Hupp’s Hill Civil War Park just north of Strasburg, Virginia. The Shenandoah Valley was of strategic importance to both the Union and Confederate war departments and saw considerable troop movement and battles throughout the war years, culminating with Phil Sheridan’s Valley Campaign of 1864.

Situated immediately above the now closed Crystal Caverns show cave, the Hupp’s Hill park has more than a mile of preserved earthworks dating from Sheridan’s time in the Valley, a small but quite interesting museum dedicated to the nearby Battle of Cedar Creek, and an interpretive Civil War Trail which passes a couple large sinkholes and the entrances to the caves.

At one time, besides the show cave, this site also had a miniature golf course and an auditorium where the likes of Patsy Cline and other famous singers once entertained tourists. The Stonewall Jackson Museum on the property closed several years ago. However, what is left is a well-preserved Civil War site with some excellent vistas of distant Strasburg, Massanutten Mountain, and the Valley.

Here are some photos from my recent visit.

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Confederate colonel’s diary described “triumphal entry” into York

This Lewis Miller sketch shows Brig. Gen. John Gordon's Confederates lowering the massive US flag in the town square of York PA on Sunday, June 28, 1863, during the Gettysburg Campaign. Sketch from YCHT.

This Lewis Miller watercolor shows Brig. Gen. John Gordon’s Confederates lowering the massive U.S. flag in the town square of York PA on Sunday, June 28, 1863, during the Gettysburg Campaign. (Sketch from the York County Heritage Trust).

It was the bright, sunny Sunday morning of June 28, 1863.

The macadamized turnpike west of York, Pennsylvania, was a beehive of activity as Virginia cavalrymen and advance scouts scurried from barn to barn and field to field seeking to confiscate fresh horses from frightened Pennsylvania farmers.

Behind these Confederate foragers marched the dust-choked, road-weary soldiers of the 31st Georgia Volunteer Infantry, some of whom were barefoot and bleeding from the sharp stones on the packed gravel roadway. They were the vanguard of more than 1,800 infantrymen from six regiments of Georgia infantry, plus six artillery pieces from Virginia and their associated limbers, caissons, and ammunition wagons.

Brigadier General John Brown Gordon, a pre-war businessman and attorney, commanded the brigade. At the helm of the 31st Georgia rode a fiery Methodist preacher and talented public speaker and writer named Clement Anselm Evans.

Evans was the charismatic colonel of the 31st. He was a much beloved commander, a natural leader who treated his soldiers well and had gained their admiration for both his caring attitude and his battlefield tactical prowess. A teetotaler and family man, Evans was articulate, well-educated, and well-mannered. He was also a passionate defender of states’ rights.

The young officer recorded his time in York County in his diary. Here are excerpts, as published in the October 25, 1957, issue of the Gettysburg Times newspaper.

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