Columbia in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Prelude to Gettysburg / A Desperate Plan
Prelude to Gettysburg
One of the great debates of our Country's history and legacy is what scholars call "the two Civil Wars": the first a matter of campaigns, generals, and troop movements and the second focusing on the ways that the great conflict affected the daily rhythms of life on farms, and in communities.
Regardless, Gettysburg was the site of the largest battle ever fought on American soil and it involved a great deal more than the resources of one single, famous town.
In six counties near Gettysburg, civilians and militia answered the first call to arms and bravely endured relentless threats and the destruction of their property. Here, women raised funds to support the war and nursed tens of thousands of wounded soldiers left behind from the battles fought in the orchards and fields. Interestingly, part of the battlefield was owned by Freeman, Abraham Brien. Although a number of Gettysburg area Black men joined volunteer militias or USCT regiments during the war, no Black veteran was interred in Soldiers' National Cemetery until 1884. Still, free men and freed men alike enlisted to fight for their own rights, children sacrificed their security, sometimes their lives. Their combined efforts provided the turning point for the Union cause.
It was June of 1863. The Confederate Army had taken York, and was preparing to cross the Susquehanna River by capturing the bridge that linked Wrightsville and Columbia, overtake Lancaster and advance to Harrisburg. Several hundred Union troops in retreat from York, a number already wounded, joined the Pennsylvania Militia and set up defenses near the Wrightsville bridge on the western side of the Susquehanna. Their force was strengthened by a valiant Black militia company. Still, they were outnumbered by more than a thousand men and had to abandon their defenses and retreat across the bridge.
A desperate plan was put into action. The Wrightsville-Columbia Bridge, key to local commerce and communications, would be sacrificed. Union forces wired a span of the structure to blow up, but the explosion was not strong enough to do the task. The order to burn the bridge was then given by Colonel Jacob Frick, and proved effective. The efforts of the Pennsylvania Militia at the Susquehanna River towns spared Lancaster and slowed the advance of the Confederates towards Harrisburg.
Erected by Pennsylvania Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Pennsylvania Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 40° 2.325′ Touch for map. Marker is located directly in front of the Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce. Marker is at or near this postal address: 445 Linden Street, Columbia PA 17512, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Lincoln Highway (approx. 0.4 miles away); Columbia (approx. 0.4 miles away); a different marker also named Columbia (approx. 0.4 miles away); Samuel Wright (approx. half a mile away); First National Bank (approx. 0.6 miles away); The River: a Corridor and a Barrier (approx. 1.4 miles away); Burning the Wrightsville Bridge (approx. 1.4 miles away); Wrightsville's Lime Kilns (approx. 1.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Columbia.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. Civil War: Burning of the Wrightsville Bridge
Also see . . . Burning the Wrightsville Bridge. After capturing York, the Rebels planned to take the state capital, Harrisburg, and possibly Philadelphia. To get there, they would need to cross the Susquehanna River at Wrightsville. Pennsylvania militiamen from Columbia, on the Lancaster County side (Submitted on August 29, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Categories. • African Americans • Bridges & Viaducts • War, US Civil • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on October 11, 2018. This page originally submitted on August 28, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 57 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 29, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 5, 6. submitted on September 5, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 7. submitted on August 29, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 8. submitted on September 5, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 9. submitted on October 11, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 10. submitted on August 29, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 11. submitted on October 11, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.