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Civil War - In the foreground, stone pier remains of the 5,960 ft. covered bridge that spanned the Susquehanna River between Columbia and Wrightsville, Pennsylvania prior to the Gettysburg campaign.

On June 28, 1863, during the Gettysburg Campaign, the bridge was burned by Columbia residents and the Pennsylvania state militia to prevent Confederate soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia from entering Lancaster County. Lee had hoped to invade Harrisburg from the west and move eastward to Lancaster and Philadelphia, and in the process destroy railroad yards and other facilities. Under General Jubal Early’s command and following Lee’s orders, General John B. Gordon was to place Lancaster and the surrounding farming area “under contribution” for the Confederate Army’s war supplies and to attack Harrisburg from the east side of the river while Lee’s army advanced from the west side. General Early was given orders to burn the bridge but hoped instead to capture it, while Union forces under the command of Colonel Jacob G. Frick and Major General Granville O. Haller, hoping to save the bridge, were forced to burn it. With the route to Lancaster blocked, and the Union Army of the Potomac closer than Lee had earlier estimated, the Confederate troops were ordered to withdraw to the “little known crossroads” of Gettysburg to rendezvous with Lee and regroup with other contingents of the Confederate Army. If the bridge had not been burned, the two opposing armies may not have met at Gettysburg where the pivotal three-day battle was fought and the latter course of the Civil War was determined.


Owner/SourceJ. P. Rhein
DateSeptember 2007
PlaceWrightsville, York County, Pennsylvania
File nameyork september 2007 037 (2).jpg
File Size333.61k
Dimensions1780 x 543

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