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.

Continue reading “York soldier wrote home from the Gettysburg battlefield” »

Posted in Gettysburg battlefield, Gettysburg Campaign, Yankees, York | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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

 

Posted in Books | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

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…

Continue reading “Thomas Jefferson wrote letter to residents of Newberry Township in 1801” »

Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged | Leave a comment

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.

Continue reading “Hupp’s Hill Civil War Park near Strasburg, Va.: Part 2” »

Posted in Battlefields, One-tank road trips, Preservation efforts, Union camp sites, Yankees | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Continue reading “Hupp’s Hill Civil War Park near Strasburg, Va.: Part 1” »

Posted in Battlefields, One-tank road trips, Preservation efforts, Union camp sites, Yankees | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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

Posted in Confederates, Gettysburg Campaign, Wrightsville, York | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

York CWRT to host talk on “The Northern Central Railway in the Civil War”

NCR talkThe railroads of both the North and the South played important roles in the Civil War, perhaps more so than in any previous war. Troops, ammunition, supplies, horses and mules, coal for naval ships, and cargo of all sorts for the military effort were shipped via train. Wounded men were taken to hospitals. Fresh troops headed for the front. Nurses and doctors headed to battlefields. Civilians started their mournful journies to reclaim the bodies of fallen loved ones. Men whose terms of enlistment had expired headed home.

The principal railroads in York County, Pennsylvania, during the Civil War were the Hanover Branch Railroad (which ran roughly east-west from Hanover in the southwestern corner to Hanover Junction) and the Northern Central Railway which entered the county from the Maryland line south of Shrewsbury and ran north through Hanover Junction, where it intersected the HBRR. From Hanover Junction, the NCR continued northward through York, Emigsville, and York Haven up into Cumberland County. A spur ran eastward from York to Wrightsville on the Susquehanna River, where it connected at the Columbia Bridge to the Pennsylvania Railroad.

The York Civil War Round Table is hosting a public event on Wednesday night, June 17, 2015, at 7 p.m. at the York County Heritage Trust. Cannonball blogger and published author Scott Mingus will present a PowerPoint talk on “The Northern Central Railway in the Civil War.” Bill Lewis will have on display his layout of the tracks at Hanover Junction. The public is welcome; no reservations are required. The meeting is free, as is on-street parking.

Continue reading “York CWRT to host talk on “The Northern Central Railway in the Civil War”” »

Posted in Emigsville, Gettysburg Campaign, Glen Rock, Hanover Junction, Manchester, Railroads, Wrightsville, York, York CWRT, York Haven | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spy Stories

Tom Ryan's new book from Savas Beatie LLC

Tom Ryan’s new book from Savas Beatie LLC

Savas Beatie LLC has just published Tom Ryan’s excellent new book on Spies, Scouts, and Secrets in the Gettysburg Campaign: How the Critical Role of Intelligence Impacted the Outcome of Lee’s Invasion of the North. June-July 1865. It is a well crafted book which more than ably fills a glaring hole in the historiography of the campaign. I was privileged to have helped somewhat with this book with some editing and suggestions, and it indeed is well worth a read.

Tom’s new book prompted me to look through my files and notes on spies and scouts with ties to York County.

Here are a few spy stories from this area.

Continue reading “Spy Stories” »

Posted in Books, Civilians, Confederates, Gettysburg Campaign, Wrightsville, Yankees, York, York Haven | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Eyewitness described death of Lancaster’s General Reynolds at Gettysburg

Maj. Gen. John Fulton Reynolds, USV, a native of Lancaster PA. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Maj. Gen. John Fulton Reynolds, USV, a native of Lancaster PA. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

John Fulton Reynolds was perhaps the best known Civil War soldier from the Susquehanna Valley region. The major general commanded a wing of the Army of the Potomac, including his own First Army Corps, during the June 1863 march from Falmouth, Virginia, to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. On the morning of July 1, Reynolds arrived in the farm fields west of Gettysburg with the vanguard of his men, deployed the lead elements of his corps, and prepared to give battle on McPherson’s Ridge.

It was to be his final act on Earth.

An eyewitness later talked with a correspondent for the Baltimore Sun.  Here is the reporter’s brief story.

Continue reading “Eyewitness described death of Lancaster’s General Reynolds at Gettysburg” »

Posted in Gettysburg Campaign, Yankees | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Altoona soldier wrote home from York’s Camp Scott

Camp Scott 1The 3rd Pennsylvania Infantry, under the command of Colonel Francis C. Minier of Blair County, was among the three-month regiments being trained at Camp Scott on the York Fairgrounds near the intersection of E. King and S. Queen Streets. One of their new soldiers, who simply identified himself by his initials “J.S.C.”, wrote a letter back to his hometown newspaper, the Altoona Tribune, on May 13, 1861. He had been a soldier less than a month, but like his comrades was eager to head for the front lines before his term of enlistment expired.

He undoubtedly was 26-year-old First Sergeant John S. Calvert, the only man in Company B, 3rd Pennsylvania Infantry, whose initials match the correspondent. He enlisted in Altoona on April 20, 1861, according to military records. Born January 6, 1836, in Cumberland County, he had moved to Blair County sometime before the war.

Continue reading “Altoona soldier wrote home from York’s Camp Scott” »

Posted in Union camp sites, Yankees, York | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment