Mills and Manufacturing – Fueling the Cause
The Confederate Army occupied York by choice, not by chance. Cavalry raiding parties destroyed railroad bridges and disrupted communications throughout York County, but the community of York did not witness similar destruction. Rather, upon the arrival of General Early's Division on June 28, 1863, two brigades were dispatched to guard several flour mills north of town. Railcar manufacturing shops and mills were inspected and threatened but not burned. York's agriculture and its manufacturing infrastructure made it attractive to the invading army, and were well known in the South, as were many local companies, such as P.A. & S. Small and Pennsylvania Agricultural Works, both of which had an association with agriculture and extensive business dealings south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The Billmeyer & Small Co., manufacturer of railcars, held contracts with the federal government, and York's industry was nationally well known. By the time of the Confederate occupation, York's population was around 9,100, including 1,500 skilled craftsmen. As one York resident wrote, Now we know why we were spared; they told themselves they expected to make this their headquarters. The battle was to be here and that was the reason they guarded our warehouses and mills so well.