New Book Tells York County Civil War in Numbers
When Scott Mingus and I were writing and editing our most recent Civil War book, we discovered that our numbers of troops in a brigade or combat fatalities often did not match.
It’s not surprising. By writing “The Dogs of War in Our Midst,” we brought together published and unpublished stories that we had written over 15 years. I may have used a casualty figure from a general and Scott from another source.
We decided that we needed to create a document – call it an office reference – to establish what together we thought were exact numbers.
This convention is not new. Journalists, often working collaboratively on stories over months or years, create such background documents which are frequently updated as more and more information becomes available.
Scott and I then thought that if this encrypted document was of such importance to us, readers of this Civil War Perspectives book might find it interesting as well. So we included them in “Dogs of War”, whose title comes from Mary Fisher, a veteran nurse of the Civil War. This is how she described the Confederate soldier stationed at her doorstep and other armed enemies in York’s gray grumbling at the end of June 1863.
The numbers refer to stories.
For example, the death toll, missing and injured in blue and gray uniforms in the Battle of Hanover on June 30, 1863 was the highest number of casualties in the county’s history.
This carnage came after Jeb Stuart’s Confederate cavalry desperately sought to force their way through the streets of Hanover blocked by Union cavalry. The blue-clad soldiers stood their ground and thus delayed Stuart’s column, representing the “eyes and ears” of Robert E. Lee’s Confederates, from joining his main force at Gettysburg until the second day of combat.
The numbers indicate the human cost of Stuart’s delay, the absence of which cost the Confederates vital information on the whereabouts and strength of Union troops at the start of the battle.
Understanding York County
This is my fourth collaboration with Scott, and we believe this is the first book of chronicles and analytical articles on York County and the Civil War to have been published. Or at least it is the most complete, with 200 pages.
Here is this edited and adapted desktop reference, with my notes designed to explain the numbers:
68,200: Population of York County according to the 1860 US Census, of which 1,360 were black and 4,137 foreign-born (mostly German).
My note: this is slightly higher than the number of students in the county’s public schools this school year.
28 610: Ransom of dollars paid by residents of York to Confederate General Jubal Early, out of $ 100,000 requisitioned in cash.
Note: But York responded to two requests – Food: 165 barrels of flour or 28,000 pounds of baked bread; 3,500 pounds of sugar; 1,650 pounds of coffee; 300 gallons of molasses; 1,200 pounds of salt; 32,000 pounds of fresh beef or 21,000 pounds of bacon or pork.
Supplies: 2,000 pairs of shoes or boots; 1,000 pairs of socks and 1,000 felt hats.
14,000: Patients who received treatment at the US Army General Hospital at Penn Common during the war. Among them, only 193 men died, giving York Hospital one of the lowest death rates of any Army medical center.
Note: This is comparable to two nearly full crowds at York Revolution games at PeoplesBank Stadium.
11,200: The number of Confederate soldiers who marched through the county during the Gettysburg campaign.
Note: This is approximately 1 in 7 Confederate soldiers who fought in the Battle of Gettysburg.
11,000: Number of soldiers wounded in the Battle of Gettysburg who were transported by rail from Gettysburg to Hanover Junction and then dispatched to Baltimore or northern towns for medical treatment.
Note: This is comparable to the population of neighboring Red Lion, Dallastown and Yoe in 2020.
10 100: Number of Union soldiers who fought in Hanover or crossed southwest York County during the Gettysburg Campaign (4,300 in Judson Kilpatrick’s Cavalry Division in Hanover; 3,400 in James Barnes’ Division of Fifth Corps and 2,400 in David M. Gregg’s Cavalry Division George Armstrong Custer and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin are two of the best-known officers to march through the county.
Note: these troops are about six times larger than Hanover in 1860.
8 605: Number of inhabitants of the borough of York according to the American census of 1860.
Note: This is comparable to the number of black adults in York in 2020.
6,600: Confederate under the command of Jubal Early who occupied the county during the Gettysburg campaign. Of these, about 6,000 were infantry or gunners, with about 600 Virginia cavalry temporarily assigned to Early’s command. John B. Gordon’s Georgia Infantry Brigade was the largest, totaling about 1,800 men.
Note: This is approximately four times the capacity of the Strand and Capitol theaters of the Appell Center in York.
6,200: Approximate number of counties in York that served in the Union Army during the Civil War.
Note: This is slightly higher than the combined census of students in Dallastown, Central York and York County School of Technology, the largest high schools in the county.
600: Approximate number of county residents who died in the Union Army.
Note: This is slightly higher than the number of county residents who died in uniform during WWII.
300: Approximate number of victims during the Battle of Hanover on June 30, 1863. (Author JD Petruzzi indicates 233 in his book on the losses at Gettysburg).
Note: This is the approximate population of Wellsville, the fastest growing borough in the county.
225: Number of United States colored troops with county ties appearing among military veterans in a York County History Center database. The approximate number of fighters with ties to the county who served in Massachusetts’ famed 54th Regiment, US Colored Troops, was seven.
Note: This is comparable to the population of Yorkana, the least populated borough in the county, in 2020.
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22: Number of miles that Gordon Brigade traveled on Sunday June 28 to reach the Susquehanna River Bridge. It was burning under Union supervision when the first of Gordon’s men reached the beachhead. A fighting man was killed in the bombing of Wrightsville, a black man who dug entrenchments and then fought against the Confederate assault.
Note: This was the distance from the village of Farmers, where Gordon’s men were camping west of present-day York Airport, to the Susquehanna River.
Sources: US Census of 1860, 2020; Bradstreet’s York Directory (1866); Dennis W. Brandt’s Online Civil War Soldiers Database (YCHC); JD Petruzzi, “The Gettysburg Campaign in Numbers and Losses” (2013); publicschoolreview.com.
Jim McClure is the retired editor of the York Daily Record and is the author or co-author of eight books on the history of York County. Contact him at [email protected]