Civil War Collections
York County and Adams County Civil War Veterans
In 1860, York County’s population was over 68,000, with York Borough having over 8,600 residents. Estimates vary, but over 6,200 York County residents served during the Civil War. Following the war, many did not return to York County due to death or relocation.
Almost two decades ago, author Dennis W. Brandt began his research and compiled a database of York and Adams County residents who served in the Civil War. This database reflects material found in the York County History Center’s Library & Archives, the National Archives in Washington, DC, the Army War College in Carlisle, PA, and private collections. Gleaning data from letters, military records, including pension files, diaries, cemetery inscriptions and other source material, he has accumulated data on nearly 11,000 Civil War soldiers, mostly, but not exclusively, from York and Adams Counties. Also included are soldiers from adjacent counties and a small sampling from other Pennsylvania regions, Maryland, and nine other states.
No database of this size and complexity can contain perfect data, and Brandt doesn’t suggest it does, as the occasional “?” in the database indicates. Anyone who has additional data on a soldier in the database, or who has information about a York or Adams County soldier that is missing from the database, is cordially invited to contact the York County History Center and add their information to the database. We are interested in any soldier, white or African American who was from York or Adams County, enlisted in either county, served with a regiment from either county, or who may have lived in either location after the war. We are also interested in women who may have regularly traveled with their husbands or sons during the War.
The link above titled “US Colored Troops of York County” is another database featuring information on over 200 black Civil War veterans’ records for York County. This data was compiled by the York County History Center and local historian Rebecca Anstine from census and pension records, and photocopies of many of these soldiers’ records are housed in the archives at the History Center.
Pennsylvania Civil War Civilian Damage Claims
(Pennsylvania Border Claims)
Following the Civil War, Pennsylvania residents who lost horses or material goods could file border claims with the state government for damages rendered by the Confederate Army or the state militia. Allowable claims did not include livestock or poultry, and any damages caused by the Union Army of the Potomac had to be filed with the Federal government.
A database of these claims, compiled by historian Scott L. Mingus Sr., includes both state and federal claims, where available and still legible. Mingus, an executive at P.H. Glatfelter, is a sanctioned Civil War tour guide for the York County History Center and the author of seven books on the war, plus several others on the hobby of miniature wargaming. He maintains a popular blog on York County Civil War history, Cannonba!!.
General William B. Franklin Collection
General William B. Franklin was born in York on February 27, 1823, the oldest son of Walter S. Franklin, a Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Sarah Buel Franklin. Franklin attended West Point and was appointed the commander of the Sixth Corps of the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War. In November 1862, the Union was defeated at the Battle of Fredericksburg, and Franklin became a central figure in the ensuing political battle over the direction and leadership of the War. Franklin returned to York briefly before being re-assigned to the Department of the Gulf. While in York, he launched a fierce, life-long campaign to defend his reputation. Following the War, Franklin moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where he became the Vice President of the Colt Firearms Manufacturing Company. Franklin was a prominent civic leader, serving as the President of the Board of Managers of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers from 1880 to 1899. Upon his death in 1903, Franklin returned to York for the last time and was buried at Prospect Hill Cemetery.
The General William B. Franklin Collection contains many letters written by or to Franklin throughout his life, as well as many of his diaries, journals, military records, letters and dispatches written during the Civil War. Additionally, the collection contains many of Franklin’s personal papers from the post-War years, including items related to Franklin’s civic activities. The collection is a valuable source of information for researchers interested in the Civil War, the Battle of Fredericksburg, and the politics surrounding that battle.
General Jacob Devers Collection
The Devers Collection consists of the papers of WWII General Jacob Devers. They include correspondence, oral history cassette tapes, photographs, scrapbooks and miscellaneous material placed here by Devers. There are 92 photo albums and 137 5-inch Hollinger boxes that contain his papers, a total of 110 linear feet of material.
General Thomas E. Griess Research Collection
The Griess Research Collection is the collection of research that retired Army Brigadier General Thomas E. Griess had conducted on General Jacob L. Devers. This collection includes Brig. Gen. Griess’ research using the Devers Collection and also includes oral histories with General Devers. His research was done with the intention of writing a biography on General Devers, which never came to fruition. This collection was given in 2005 by West Point Military Academy.
Veterans History Project
The Veterans History Project (VHP), formerly known as the Veterans Collection Project and Defending America’s Freedom Project, was created in 2000 by the United States Congress and is housed and managed by the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The project seeks to collect, preserve and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans.
The York County History Center, along with York College of Pennsylvania, became a VHP collecting partner in 2006. The collection currently includes oral histories and personal items from York County veterans who served in American conflicts from World War I through Iraq. The York County History Center is proud to honor York County veterans and their service by continuing to act as a VHP collecting partner.
Please note that The History Center is currently processing its oral history collection. There may be additional veterans’ oral histories that are not currently identified in this finding aid. Please check back periodically for an updated finding aid.
The Veterans History Project is an ongoing project. If you are a York County veteran who would like to give an oral history, or if you are interested in interviewing veterans or helping to process oral histories after they’ve been recorded, please contact Nicole Smith, Assistant Director of Library & Archives.