Prelude to Gettysburg / A Desperate Plan

Prelude to Gettysburg / A Desperate Plan (HM2AX8)

Location: Columbia, PA 17512 Lancaster County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 2.325', W 76° 30.348'

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(side 1)
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.

(side 2)

Desperate Plan

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.
HM NumberHM2AX8
Series This marker is part of the Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Civil War Trails series
Placed ByPennsylvania Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, August 29th, 2018 at 2:02pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18T E 371535 N 4433144
Decimal Degrees40.03875000, -76.50580000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 2.325', W 76° 30.348'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 2' 19.5" N, 76° 30' 20.88" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)717
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling South
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 445 Linden St, Columbia PA 17512, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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