Louisiana Tigers raided Emigsville; eyewitness account

EmigsvilleThis image from the Manchester Township Historical Society shows Emigsville, Pennsylvania, a small village during the Civil War years nestled along the Harrisburg Road (now N. George Street) and the Northern Central Railway. Prosperous farms surrounded the town, which featured the large home, farm, and general store of the John Emig, Jr. family. The town was named in 1840 for him.

On Sunday, June 28, 1863, curious townspeople watched as Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early led several thousand Confederate soldiers southward through Emigsville as they headed to York. Later that day, Col. William Henderson French’s 17th Virginia Cavalry regiment camped on the open hill shown in the above photo immediately northwest of Emigsville (this hill is now partially wooded and covered with townhouses). The Rebel soldiers departed on June 30 and many of them subsequently fought at the Battle of Gettysburg.

A handful of primary accounts recall the march of Early’s infantry and trains of artillery and supply wagons through Emigsville. Among these are the recollections of Flora (Emig) Dice who was a little girl at the time the Tigers paid a visit to her father’s sprawling mansion and nearby store.

Late in her life, Flora (who passed away in 1954 at the age of 98) penned her reminiscences in August 1944 (during WWII) of the Confederate invasion. Here are some highlights of that account, a copy of which was graciously given to me by the current owner of the Emig Mansion.

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York Gazette described the Confederate invasion

Downtown YorkDuring the Gettysburg Campaign, more than 6,000 Confederate troops occupied the vicinity of York, Pennsylvania, for 3 days and 2 nights (June 28-30, 1863). A few citizens left letters or diary entries concerning the Rebels in their midst, but with a population of more than 8,000 citizens the number of accounts is proportionally very small. Perhaps other accounts have survived and are awaiting discovery?

One of the first public accounts of the invasion was the town’s Democratic newspaper, the Gazette. The chief burgess, David Small, was the editor and main writer. He was a classic example of being in the middle of the story he was covering, considering his joint role as mayor and leading newsman.

Here is his paper’s recounting of the Rebel occupation of York from later in the day after the soldiers departed westward on Tuesday, June 30.

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New Civil War fiction for young readers tells the story of revenge and forgiveness

BlakeI met author Joel Moore (who writes under the name of J. Arthur Moore) at a recent mutual book signing at Irvin’s Books in York, PA. He graciously gave me a copy of his latest historical fiction book, Blake’s Story, Revenge and Forgiveness, which he co-wrote with Bryson B. Brodzinski.

Published in May 2014 by Xlibris, this new book tells the story of a Southern boy who learns of his father’s death at the bloody battle of Shiloh in the spring of 1862. In anguish, Blake Bradford wrestles with his shifting emotions and finally decides that he must take revenge on the Yankee who shot his father. He hopes to find him on a battlefield and kill him. Blake signs up for the 2nd Tennessee Volunteer Infantry and soon finds himself in the midst of the Kentucky Campaign serving under famed Brigadier General Patrick Cleburne (known as the “Stonewall of the West” for his martial and leadership abilities).

Wounded and taken prisoner at Perryville, Blake eventually befriends a young Union soldier, setting the stage for the main plot line of the book. Incidentally, the story’s genesis came from an idea from Moore’s 11-year-old great-grandson!

The new book will appeal to young teenagers who are interested in learning a little more about the Civil War as seen through the eyes of one of their peers. Blake’s experiences are based upon extensive historical research and are rooted in the actual movements and actions of the regiments involved in the storyline. The book flows well and should be easy to read and comprehend for its intended teenage audience. Rated at four or five stars by various on-line reviewers, it would make a fine gift for the younger Civil War reader.

Blake’s Story, Revenge and Forgiveness can be obtained from the publisher, Xlibris, via their website (ISBN 978-1-49319-778-1). It is also for sale through amazon.com and Barnes & Noble’s on-line catalog.


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Battle of Falling Waters 1863: Custer, Pettigrew and the End of the Gettysburg Campaign topic at York CWRT on July 16

Falling Waters1

Author George F. Franks, III will be the featured speaker at the monthly meeting of the York Civil War Round Table on July 16, 2014.  Mr. Franks will present a PowerPoint talk based on his new book, “Battle of Falling Waters 1863: Custer, Pettigrew and the End of the Gettysburg Campaign.”

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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What became of York’s flag taken by the Rebels in June 1863?

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 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.

After Gordon’s Rebels hauled down the flag from Centre Square, its whereabouts quickly became uncertain to the residents of York. Rumors and tales abounded, including a story that General Gordon tied it to his horse’s tail and dragged it in the dirty, horse-dung-filled street. Other accounts suggested that Gordon merely draped the flag over his saddlebags and rode off toward Wrightsville. Still another story says that Avery’s North Carolina brigade ended up with the flag, tearing it into pieces and later using it as bandages after the battle of Gettysburg. Those and other stories resulted in uncertainty. Some residents even claimed to possess the missing flag! What was certain was that businessman W. Latimer Small replaced the massive flag with a new one after the battle.

In early 1888, almost 25 years after the Confederates hauled down the missing flag, Hiram Young, the editor of the York Dispatch sent a letter to Gordon, then the governor of Georgia, inquiring as to what really happened. Here is his note, as well as Governor Gordon’s response as taken from the Macon, Georgia, Weekly Telegram of March 13, 1888.

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Civil War and More in Mechanicsburg PA to host author James M. Faber on July 5

He will be signing copies of his book
Invaders In Our Town
The Battle of Gettysburg Through the Eyes of Some Who Lived It
This is a novel pertaining to some of the civilians who lived through those horrible three days in July, 1863, in Gettysburg.  The story begins about a month before the battle and concludes on July 3.  The story is built around actual people who lived in Gettysburg during this time.
The book was completed with the expert help of
Tim Smith, Scott Mingus and Mrs. Linda Seamon
who are area authors and historians.
10 South Market Street
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

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Excellent new book on the Battle of Allatoona Pass released

bradbookallatoonaBrad Butkovich is well known in the hobby of Civil War miniature wargaming for his series of outstanding, well researched scenario books which gamers use to recreate battles in the Western Theater. He has developed a well deserved reputation for accuracy and deep research in his presentations. A few years ago, Brad translates his skills for research and story telling into a full sized book on the battle of Pickett’s Mill in Georgia, easily the finest treatise on this long-forgotten but strategically important battle. His battle actions are crisp; his prose compelling and interesting; and his interpretation spot on.

Now, Brad has continued in this same vein with a new book released in late June 2014 by The History Press on The Battle of Allatoona Pass: Civil War Skirmish in Bartow County, Georgia. This is also part of The History Press’s popular Civil War Sesquicentennial Series, which has explored scores of smaller battles and regional topics.

Fought on October 5, 1864, the battle was a fight to control the vital Union supply lines north from the recently captured city of Atlanta toward supply depots in Tennessee. As Confederate General John Bell Hood pushed forward, his old corps (now under Alexander Stewart) engaged the Yankees in a series of small engagements along the Western Atlantic Railroad. The largest and most important of this fights was at Allatoona Pass.

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Some images of the Gettysburg Cyclorama

IMG-20140629-00191I was given a free ticket to the Gettysburg Cyclorama in my goodie bag last summer from the National Park Service as a thank you for speaking at the Sacred Trust portion of the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg. It expired in 1 year, so I visited the Cyclorama (for the second time since it reopened in the new museum).

Here are a few photos I took.

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A visitor from Virginia — 151 years ago today

JubalOn Sunday, June 28, 1863, more than 6,000 Confederate soldiers under the command of Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early marched or rode into downtown York, Pennsylvania. They encamped in and around the town, with unlimbered artillery pieces frowning from the heights north and south of York and other guns prominently displayed on the old fairgrounds. Early ransomed the town for massive quantities of supplies, including more than 1,000 pairs of shoes and boots, several days of foodstuffs, and $100,000 in cash.

Throughout Monday, June 29, the Rebels remained in firm control of the town and its people. However, that grip was not oppressive and residents were free to stroll the streets and chat with the soldiers. In some cases, citizens entertained acquaintances or leading Rebel officers in their homes. Some Yorkers took the opportunity to visit the Confederate camp in the fairgrounds to check out the four cannon, according to the artillery battery’s commander.

No citizen is known to have been harmed physically, for for some the psychological terror was overwhelming. No one was quite sure when or if the Rebels would “unleash the dogs of war” and burn the helpless town or commit atrocities. As June 29th wore on, it became more evident that General Early had no such immediate intentions, but the tension remained palpable. Rebel foraging patrols spent the day scouring the countryside for supplies and fresh horses and mules, while other patrols scouted the roads for any sign of Union presence. Still other detachments burned all of the railroad bridges in the area, including those between Wrightsville and York.

It was, in the words of a local woman, a time “never to be forgotten.”


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Civil War officer discovered the body of Revolutionary War hero John Paul Jones in France

MartelleTo many Americans, the name John Paul Jones conjures up notions of a heroic sea captain–outgunned, undermanned, and with the odds stacked against him–defiantly refusing to give up his ship by calling out “I have yet begun to fight!” to the astonished British commander. It’s an enduring image, one cemented in our collective consciousness during childhood.

The little Bon Homme Richard vs. the mighty Serapis.

David vs. Goliath.

The amateur American admiral vs. the more experienced British commander.

However, the popular tale as believed by most Americans is not quite the entire story. Jones was not born in America and in fact had spent precious little time there (he was of Scotch birth). He did not utter the exact phrase famously attributed to him (although the spirit of his actual words was no less defiant in the face of surrender). Jones spent his last years in France, where he died and was buried in a lead coffin in a cemetery soon to become forgotten with the upheaval of the French Revolution. Then, the location of his grave was lost to history.

Enter Civil War brevet general and Medal of Honor recipient Horace Porter into the picture.

And, a century later, also enter veteran author Scott Martelle, who weaves the story of Porter’s search for Jones’ grave into an interesting and certainly out-of-the-ordinary book.

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