I have recently completed a small vignette for my wargaming table, as well as to use to attract attention to my table when I am selling and signing my Civil War books I have written. This scene shows a Pennsylvania German farmer, let’s call him Jacob, nervously guarding his barn as he spots a distant dust cloud which indicates the arrival of Confederate foraging parties in his neighborhood. “Here come the Rebels!” has been the cry for weeks, and they have not come.
Until now, that is.
Jacob has failed to take his horses to safety (they are in the stable in back of the barn). He will attempt to negotiate with the raiders. He has a yellow membership card to the Knights of the Golden Circle, knows their secret password and identifying hand signals. For this information he has paid $1 to a couple of men from New York City who have visited his farm. They sold him the ticket and secret signs and told him the Rebels would leave his personal property, livestock, and horses alone if he showed them he was a member of the Southern-sympathizing K.G.C.
Click on the photos for better views of old Jacob and his farmstead.
Jacob trusted the fast-talking men from the big city, but he’s anxious and becoming more uncertain as he sees the Rebel cavalrymen approaching his farm lane. The cause for his concern? The soldiers are leading Jacob’s neighbors’ horses, and they had purchased the protection on the same day as Jacob.
As the Rebels ride up and dismount, Jacob stares into a cocked pistol. The ticket is knocked from his hand, and a Confederate mocks, “We don’t need that right now.” One of them goes to his barn and begins to get his horses; another starts knocking down his fence and heads for the cattle.
This scene from a typical Pennsylvania barnyard is from Scribner’s Magazine in May 1872. Jacob’s farm and many others in Franklin, Fulton, Adams, Cumberland, and York counties had been heavily raided by the Rebels during the Gettysburg Campaign in June-July 1863.
Confederate Major General Jubal A. Early commented in his memoirs about the Pennsylvania farmers waving their golden tickets and making the strange hand gestures: “These things were all new to us, and the purchasers of these mysteries had been badly sold.”