Saturday, March 03, 2018
LEGENDARY COMMENTS BY GEORGE CHEVALLIER 3-3-18
Salisbury’s participation in the Civil War was minimal at best. The devastating fire of 1860 had leveled the entire downtown, so much of the 1861- 65 era was spent rebuilding the town. The Union established Camp Upton on the land where the old Daily Times building was on Carroll Street. The population at the camp outnumbered the citizens who lived in Salisbury at the time.
The sentiments of the entire Eastern Shore were divided in their loyalties to both the North and the South. The Union put Camp Upton in Salisbury to guard the telegraph line from north to south that provided information for the Union forces. They would occasionally roust a few Southern sympathizers to check for weapons that could be used against them.
There is a grave in Salisbury that has a stone that gives the soldier’s name and the designation “U S C I”. This stood for United States Colored Infantry. Researching his service showed him to have been owned by a George Johnson. He was mustered in on March 29, 1864 and discharged on December 4, 1865. He was 34 years old at the time.
Another local figure that was prominent during the Civil War was Clara Gunby. She was the sister of L. W. Gunby of hardware store fame. She lived in Fruitland and came to Salisbury one time to buy some things for her upcoming wedding to Will Huffington of Allen. While in Salisbury, she refused to walk under a Union flag stretched across Bridge (Main) St. When someone got wind of this, they hung one over her front door. She still refused to walk under it and entered and exited her house by crawling in and out of a window rather than acknowledge the colors. Her acts were eventually deemed serious enough for her to be sent to Baltimore to be tried by a military commission and she was finally exiled to the South for the duration of the War.
There are only two other incidents that are noteworthy. One is when a Mr. Byrd, who owned a local tavern where the Court House now stands, shot and killed a rowdy Union soldier at his establishment. Nothing ever came of this, however.
The other deaths were as a result of disease. It seems a regiment of Union soldiers from Massachusetts was marching back home from having fought in the South. They had an extraordinary number of cases of either typhoid fever or black measles and had to stop at Camp Upton. Camp Upton had a hospital that was where the main entrance to PRMC is now. A total of 51 or 52 soldiers died and are buried locally. Most of them were buried in the old Potter’s Field behind what is now Arby’s by Wi Jr Hi. Some of the graves were moved to Parson’s cemetery when they cut Route 50 through there. No one knew any names but the uniform buttons and belt buckles identified them as the Union soldiers.
As for any local folk making a name for themselves, there appears to be none. After all, they had a town to rebuild and crops to tend.
at 3/03/2018 09:00:00 AM