As the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War approaches in 2011, author James McClure and I have been collecting, editing, and assembling more than 100 human interest stories from York County, Pennsylvania, from the Civil War era. For many years I have wanted to capture the memories of those residents of this region who actually knew and talked with Civil War veterans and/or the civilians whose lives were impacted by the war and the Confederate invasion of south-central Pennsylvania.
Through a collaboration with Jim, with support from the York Daily Record, the York County Heritage Trust, and the PA 150 Civil War committee, this longstanding vision of mine is becoming a reality.
The book will contain an interesting mixture of oral and written reminiscences from the 19th century inhabitants of York County, Pa., many handed down through the years to their descendants and now made available to a wide audience for posterity. We also have uncovered or received dozens of previously unpublished diaries, journals, Civil War letters from the field, and similar first-person accounts that provide a glimpses into the hearts of the soldiers and citizens.
We see the loneliness of a York man serving as a guard at Fort Monroe, Virginia, whose mundane routine is broken by a visit by U.S. Grant and President Lincoln. We see the fear and uncertainty expressed by a worried housewife in Warrington Township as rumors of the impending Confederate invasion reach northwestern York County. We hear the defiance in the voice of a former soldier living near Lewisberry who reports that he is willing to pick up the musket again in defense of his country. We hear the voice of a young York man who helps in the gruesome field hospitals at Gettysburg, an experience that leads him into a career as a physician. We learn from a frightened child how she hides silently in a cherry tree as gray-coated soldiers rode through her parents’ farm. We follow a free black man as he dons the Union blue.
These voices, and nearly two hundred more, are captured in Civil War Voices from York County, Pennsylvania: Remembering the Rebellion and the Gettysburg Campaign. They bring to life what it was like to live in south-central Pennsylvania during America’s most tumultuous period.
Womens’ voices. Black voices. Soldiers’ voices. Correspondents’ voices. Civilian voices. Even childrens’ voices. All are included in this compendium of human interest stories and anecdotes from the Civil War.
The book will be in print in April 2011 from Colecraft Books of Orrtanna, Pennsylvania, which has published three of my previous books of human interest stories from Gettysburg and Antietam.
This new book is the most satisfying one of all.
Watch Jim McClure’s York Town Square blog and this Cannonball blog for more announcements in the months to come.