Historical Markers
Sachs Covered Bridge Historical Marker
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Sachs Covered Bridge

Hershey/Gettysburg/Dutch Country Region


Marker Location:
Pumping Station Road (S.R. 3005) at Waterworks Road, southwest of Gettysburg

Dedication Date:
July 20, 1997

Behind the Marker

"Too bad! Too bad! OH! TOO BAD!"
Brady photo of Gettysburg Dead soldiers.
Brady photo of Gettysburg Dead.
General Lee was in agony as he explained the repulse of Pickett's Charge to General John D. Imboden late on July 3. Imboden's brigade had arrived at Gettysburg earlier that day, having guarded the army's rear earlier in the campaign. Now, said Lee, it was all too apparent that his troops would not be able to drive the Union army from its strong position.

Having lost at least 28,000 of his 80,000 men, Lee realized that his army was crippled, low on ammunition and food, and in enemy territory. Thus, explained the general, the army must retreat to Virginia.
Image of Sachs Covered Bridge.
Sachs Covered Bridge

To Imboden, Lee gave the duty of escorting the wagon train of wounded Confederate soldiers well enough to travel. Thousands more crippled soldiers had to be left behind in field hospitals, farmhouses, and other structures, where they would be captured and cared for by the blue-clad enemy.

Imboden gathered hundreds of wagons, loaded them with cripples, and then left those able to walk to limp along on foot. He divided his brigade among the train and started the wagons westward to Cashtown, where the long procession, estimated to be seventeen miles in length, turned south on country roads to the village of Marion, south of Chambersburg.

Rain, which began on the afternoon of July 4, turned the southward trip into a nightmare. The wagons had no springs to protect their wounded passengers against rutted, bumpy, muddy roads. Witnesses long remembered the agonizing cries of the wounded as they bounced along the roads.

To make matters worse, pursuing Union cavalry occasionally swooped down to capture portions of the train, which was now also defended by two brigades of Jeb Stuart's cavalry. Late on July 5th they finally reached the Potomac River at Williamsport, Maryland.
Pursuit of Lee's army. Scene on the road near Emmitsburg of a long column of troops marching.
Watercolor of Lee's retreat, by Edwin Forbes.

The infantry of Lee's army left the battlefield late on July 4, while the retreating wagons were still crossing the mountains at Cashtown. Portions of James Longstreet's First Corps tramped across the Sachs Bridge en route for the Fairfield Road (today's Route 116). Lee's army moved to Fairfield, where it divided and crossed the mountains through the passes at Fairfield and Monterey.

The army arrived in the Hagerstown, Maryland, area by July 7, then continued on to Williamsport, where Lee's men entrenched. Unable to cross the rain-swollen Potomac River, because a cavalry detachment from the Union post at Harper's Ferry had destroyed the Confederate pontoon bridge over the river, Lee's troops dug in and waited.
markerGeneral George G. Meade's cavalry followed the retreating Confederates, sparring with Lee's rearguard as well as Stuart's cavalry.
Shown here in Lincoln's own hand, the Gettysburg Address was only two minutes long
Shown here in Lincoln's own hand, the Gettysburg Address was only two minutes...
Meade's infantry left the Gettysburg area on July 7, moving south along the eastern edge of the mountains to the Frederick, Maryland, area, before turning west to cross South Mountain and confront the Rebel positions around Williamsport.

Meade hesitated to attack the strong enemy entrenchments without first bringing up reinforcements and searching for a likely attack point. By the time Meade did decide to attack, Lee's engineers had rebuilt the pontoon bridge and the Confederate army crossed on July 13-14.

Lee's escape to Virginia ended the major part of the Gettysburg Campaign. The war continued as the two armies moved back into Virginia. For the residents of the Gettysburg area, however, the impact of the Confederate invasion continued.

Both armies had wrecked farms and fields. Dead soldiers were buried everywhere. Houses and barns were full of wounded men. Dead horses had to be burned. Unexploded ordinance dotted the landscape. Cleaning-up would take months.

In the aftermath of the battle, David Wills, a Gettysburg lawyer who had been appointed as the local agent of Pennsylvania governor markerAndrew Curtin, played a leading role in coordinating the creation of a Soldiers' National Cemetery to contain the bodies of Union soldiers who had been killed in battle or died of their wounds.

For the November 19 dedication of the cemetery President Lincoln was invited to say a few words after the crowd heard Edward Everett, the principal orator of the ceremony. The resulting markerGettysburg Address would be one of Lincoln's greatest speeches and a defining moment in American political identity.

In July 1864, Confederate forces invaded Pennsylvania one last time. Outraged at the burning and looting of southern farms in the Shenandoah Valley, a brigade of 2,000 crossed the Mason-Dixon Line into Franklin County and set fire to the markercity of Chambersburg.
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