October 2023 Program
Striking for Pennsylvania - The 1863 Pennsylvania Campaign
Presented by Scott Mingus
In the summer of 1863, 160 years ago this year, one out of every seven Confederate soldiers that fought at Gettysburg arrived there after marching or riding through York County. Nearly 10% of the Union Army of the Potomac also came through the county before engaging the Confederates at Gettysburg. Author Scott Mingus will discuss the three different Confederate commands that invaded York County (Jubal Early's division from June 28-30, Jeb Stuart's cavalry on June 30-July 2, and the lesser-known James Nounnan raid from Dillsburg to Dover on June 28-29). He will also relate the feverish efforts of the local farmers to protect their horses, livestock, and private property, as well as the desperate attempts of a motely collection of local home guard troops and state emergency militiamen to slow the Rebels. He will also briefly discuss the battle of Hanover and the defense of the world's longest covered bridge at Wrightsville.
About the presenter: Multiple award-winning author Scott Mingus is a retired scientist and executive in the global specialty paper industry. The Ohio native graduated from Miami University. He was part of the research team that developed the first commercially successful self-adhesive U.S. postage stamps, and he was a pioneer in the early development of bar code labels. He has written more than 30 Civil War and Underground Railroad books and numerous articles for Gettysburg Magazine and other historical journals. He has appeared on C-SPAN, C-SPAN3, PBS, PCN, and several other TV networks. Mingus writes a blog on the Civil War history of York County, PA, where he and his wife Debi live. He also has written six scenario books for miniature wargaming. He received lifetime achievement awards from the York County History Center and the Camp Curtin Historical Society for his many contributions to local Civil War history. His books and wargaming scenario books have received or been nominated for numerous national awards.
Recorded program available here.
Review of the program by Becky Anstine:
Why did the Confederates decide to invade Pennsylvania – specifically southeastern central counties - was the question posed by Scott in his presentation. There were several reasons:
1) The South wanted a victory on Northern soil that would force Lincoln to negotiate.
2) To draw the Northern troops away from Virginia
3) To divert the Northern troops from Vicksburg
4) To threaten transportation and communication lines
In early June, Gen. Jubal Early had the Confederate troops marching through Virginia at night to avoid Union detection. At the same time the Union Army was still in the Potomac River area trying to protect Washington. D.C. and also extending protection north to Baltimore.
Fearing an invasion from Rebel troops, Pennsylvania formed a troop to defend the Susquehanna River. The troop of 56 men, although facing an army of several thousand Confederates, hoped to buy time for the arrival of the Union army. By June 12, the Confederate troops had crossed over the Shenandoah Valley and were closing in on Dillsburg, York Co.
Between June 12-June 15, several skirmishes were fought. President Lincoln had requested volunteers from New York, Ohio, West Virginia, and New Jersey to send militia to help the Pennsylvania Guard.
From June 15-19 – Jenkins’ cavalry seized Chambersburg along with cattle and food supplies. This action would enable the Southern troops to prolong the war for two more years. After the first skirmish on the 21st of June, the roads were clogged to York, Columbia, and Harrisburg, by refugees fleeing and wanting to cross the river.
From June 25th on, the Confederate army invaded various areas, with the goal to reach the Susquehanna River and burn the bridges. June 29th saw them stalled and by June 30th the army was leaving York County. Gen. Stuart was in Hanover and headed toward Jefferson. On July 1, the forces met at Gettysburg after terrorizing the citizens of three counties.
In total, 850 damage claims were filed, for the 1125 horses and 60 mules taken. $272,688.97 worth of personal property destroyed. Several farmers were bankrupted. One civilian, John Mumper, died of a heart attack, and one committed suicide. The enmity between the Copperheads and the Unionists did not fade away and still lingers today.