Efforts have continued in Congress for 125+ years to approve repayment for burnt bridge

wrightsville_bridge_fireOn Sunday evening, June 28, 1863, under orders from a major general in  Harrisburg, Pennsylvania state militiamen oversaw the preparations and then the execution of a plan to destroy the mile-and-a-quarter long covered bridge over the Susquehanna River between Wrightsville and Columbia. It was the longest such covered bridge in the world, and was the only bridge at the time between Harrisburg and Conowingo, Maryland. Its destruction prevented Confederate troops from entering Lancaster County and possibly threatening Harrisburg from its undefended rear.

The First National Bank of Columbia owned the toll bridge, and it was citizens of Columbia which physically torched the bridge (under army orders).

And therein lies the gist of an ongoing attempt, now entirely symbolic, by a series of Lancaster County congressmen to have the Federal government pay the long-standing private claim for the loss of the bridge.

Here is the story…

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1912 newspaper article discussed York’s Civil War U.S. Army Hospital

Penn Common 002During the Civil War, York, Pennsylvania, boasted a 2,000-bed U.S. Army Hospital with one of the lowest mortality rates of any military medical facility in the country. Less than 200 patients out of 14,000 during course of the war died while recuperating in York, a remarkable statistic. Credit should go to Chief Surgeon Dr. Henry Palmer and his talented assistant Dr. Alexander R. Blair.

The December 21, 1912, issue of the Reading (Pa.) Eagle neatly covered the brief history of the York U.S. Army Hospital, including commenting on several North Carolina soldiers who had camped there during Jubal Early’s June 1863 occupation of York prior to the battle of Gettysburg; 40 of which were later brought back to York after being shot at Gettysburg. Dr. Palmer, upset at his treatment while briefly a prisoner of war, refused to tend to them and they wound  up as patients of York’s civilian doctors in a makeshift hospital in the Odd Fellows Hall on S. George Street.

Here is the text of the 1912 article from the Reading newspaper…

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York CWRT to discuss Lewis Miller and the American Civil War on November 19

York1863LewisMiller

The York Civil War Round Table will feature Daniel Roe, Director of Education at the York County Heritage Trust, as their featured speaker at the monthly meeting on November 19, 2014. Mr. Roe will present a PowerPoint talk on “Lewis Miller and the American Civil War.”

The meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday evening in the auditorium of the York County Heritage Trust at 250 E. Market St. in downtown York, Pennsylvania. There is no charge for admission and the public is welcome!

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Interesting new Smithsonian book & 3D viewer set: The Civil War in 3D

IMG_3091The Smithsonian has recently released a wonderful new set of 35 stereoscopic images of the Civil War, a sturdy metal 3D viewer, and a full color photo book by long-time military historian Michael Stephenson. Entitled Smithsonian Institution’s Civil War in 3D: The Life and Death of the Soldier, this is a delightful set for the Civil War buff on your Christmas or birthday gift list.

First, the viewer and the 3D images should provide hours of entertainment for the buff, and especially for the younger crowd. When I was a kid, my grandparents had an antique stereoscopic viewer and more than 100 cards, many of exotic locations. I spent considerable time viewing the 3D images and dreaming of the locations, and was particularly enthralled with the military images. The editors and staff at the Smithsonian have assembled 35 images, many from the institution’s own collection, with a rich, diverse mix of subject matters and 3D compositions. Most show soldiers in everyday activities in camp life. Some of the images are familiar to the veteran Civil War buff; others are much more obscure but combined they reveal a glimpse of the everyday life of the soldiers, both blue and gray.

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York County’s Civil War questions: Part 3

NCR YorkA Northern Central Railway train steams into the yard at York, Pennsylvania, in this 19th-century sketch. The NCRW was an important supply route for the Union army and navy during the American Civil War, carrying thousands of troops, as well as supplies, ammunition, horses, forage, and coal southward.

Here are some more of your questions regarding the Civil War in York County, PA…

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New historical fiction novel explores Mr. & Mrs. Custer’s relationship if George had survived Little Big Horn

Custer don judith

First, I must begin by mentioning that I am not a fan of historical fiction and do not regularly read the genre. In my limited reading time, I much prefer non-fiction. That said, many years go I bought, read, and very much enjoyed Douglas C. Jones’ riveting and well written novel The Court Martial of George Armstrong Custer. I have reread that paperback several times over the years and continue to find it an easy and interesting read.

Usually I turn down requests to read and review new historical fiction titles. However, when I was asked if I would consider reviewing Still Standing: Surviving Custer’s Last Battle – Part 1 by Don Solenberger and Judith Gotwald, I agreed.

That proved to be a good decision.

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York County’s Civil War questions: Part 2

Penn Common 005A jauntily clad Union cavalry stands guard over Penn Common in this detail from the York County Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Thousands of young men from the county joined the army and thousands more men and women supported the war effort by providing food, money, forage, supplies, nursing aid, and other assistance.

Several questions have been received concerning the Civil War in York County. Here are a few of these, with our thoughts.

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York CWRT to feature author Ron Hershner on October 15

Hershner letters from home

The York Civil War Round Table will feature author Ronald L. Hershner at its monthly meeting on October 15, 2014.  Mr. Hershner will present a PowerPoint talk based on his book “Letters From Home: York County, Pennsylvania during the Civil War.”

The meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday evening in the auditorium of the York County Heritage Trust at 250 E. Market St. in downtown York, Pennsylvania. There is no charge for admission and the public is welcome.

With the Civil War raging in 1863, nineteen year old farm boy John Harvey Anderson left the quiet cornfields of southern York County and rose to the defense of his country and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. By the end of the war, this cavalryman was fighting his way through the Carolinas, riding with one of the most battle-hardened and respected units in the Army of the Cumberland.

“Letters From Home: York County, Pennsylvania during the Civil War” offers a rare personal insight into the Civil War homefront through twenty-three letters written to Harvey Anderson from 1863 to 1865. “It is a story of a family coping with the distance that divided them from each other,” author Ron Hershner writes. “And it is a view into the ardently held and fiercely advocated opinions about the war that divided the southern York County community.” Harvey Anderson’s boyhood home served as a wartime microcosm of what transpired in countless northern communities.

ron-hershner

Ronald L. Hershner, a native of York County, grew up on his family’s farm in East Hopewell Township. He is a graduate of Kennard Dale High School, Dickinson College, and Dickinson School of Law. Hershner is Managing Partner of the law firm Stock and Leader, LLP. He is active in a number of charitable and civic organizations. He has served as Chair of the Board of Directors of the York County Heritage Trust and has been President of the Red Lion Historical Society. He regularly speaks to civic groups on topics of local history.

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York County’s Civil War questions: Part 1

Early route 30During my book signings and lectures on York County’s Civil War history, I am frequently asked questions about various topics. Most of them are straight forward and I have a ready answer; a few are trickier to answer without researching the answers off-line.

Here is a diverse sampling of some of these questions I have received over the years (including by email), and my thoughts…

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Roger Heller to discuss conscientious objectors on October 5 in York PA

farmland2Adams and York counties back during the mid-1800s were heavily pastoral. Many of the residents were of German origin, including hundreds of members of religious denominations with decided pacifist or non-interventionist ideals.

An interesting and unique Civil War presentation is coming to York on Sunday, October 5, 2014.  The South Central Pennsylvania Genealogical Society will be hosting a presentation by Roger Heller of Gettysburg entitled “Adams County’s Civil War Conscientious Objectors” at 2:15 p.m. at the York County Heritage Trust, 250 E. Market Street, in downtown York. 
Mr. Heller identified Adams County’s Civil War objectors and then grouped them by township and denomination, determining where concentrations of such men were found in the county.  He also uncovered intriguing stories about the Provost Marshal in Adams County’s draft district and his dealings with the objectors.  His presentation is illustrated with helpful maps and charts, and he is an engaging speaker.

The public is welcome!

 

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