Original Document
Original Document
Report of Colonel Jacob G. Frick, Twenty-seventh Pennsylvania Militia, of operations June 24-30. July 1, 1863.

Columbia, Pa., July 1, 1863


I have the honor to report that, in compliance wit General Orders, No. 14, from the Department of the Susquehanna, I left Harrisburg on the morning of the 24th ultimo, and arrived here on the afternoon of the same day, and immediately sent four companies, in command of Lieutenant-Colonel Green, over the river .

On the morning of the 25th ultimo, I sent four more companies to that officer, with instructions to take up a position near the York turnpike, about a half mile from Wrightsville .

Hearing, on the afternoon of the 27th, that the enemy were in the vicinity of York, I ordered my tow remaining companies to report to Lieutenant-Colonel Green, that we might be prepared to resist any sudden attempt by the enemy to get possession of the bridge at this point.

Late in the evening of the same day, I crossed the river, assumed command, and disposed my force for defense .

During the night, our force was increased by our companies from Columbia (three white and one colored), numbering about 175 men.

Very early next morning, having obtained entrenching tools from citizens of Columbia and the Pennsylvania railroad, my own men and the negro company (the order three companies from Columbia having left for their homes) dug rifle-pits on their side of the turnpike .

During the morning, a detachment of convalescent soldiers from York, and the Patapsco Guards, in all about 250 men, joined me, and they were posted on the left of the town, m protecting the flank left of my position . They were placed under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Green . We were also joined scattered fragments of the twentieth regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia, under Lieutenant-Colonel Sickles, during the morning, which I posted on the right of the own as a protection to the right flank.

The work of entrenching was continued until the approach and attack of the enemy, about 5. 30 p. m., and, while the work was in progress, I selected, with the assistance of Major Haller, aide-de-camp to the commanding general, the several points at which to post my limited number of men .

The main body of the enemy, about 2, 500 strong, composed of cavalry, artillery, and infantry, took up their position about 6 p. m. on the turnpike in our immediate front within three-quarters of a mile of our rifle-pits. A force of cavalry and infantry moved down the railroad on our left, and attacked, our skirmishers, who after replying to their fire for a short time, retired to the main body, which kept up a steady fire, and held the enemy in check until they received orders to retire to the brigade . The rebels succeeded in getting a battery in position on the elevated ground on our right and a section in our immediate front. These guns were used most vigorously against those of my command occupying the rifle-pits.

In the meantime, they sent a column of infantry, under cover of a high hill on our right, within a few hundred yards of the river . none but their skirmishers approached within range of the guns of the men occupying the rifle -pit, and these being in a grain, and obscured from our view, excepting when they would rise to fire, it was difficult to do them much harm or dislodge them, . They depended exclusively upon their artillery to drive us from our position here. having no artillery ourselves on that side of the river with which to reply, and after retaining our position for about one and a quarter hours, and discovering that our remaining longer would enable the enemy to reach the river on both of my flanks, which I was unable to prevent because of the small number of men under my command, and thus get possession of the bridge, cut off our retreat, and secure a crossing of the Susquehanna, which I was instructed to prevent, I retired in good order, and crossed the bridge to the Lancaster side .

Before the enemy had left York for the river here, I made, as I supposed, every necessary arrangement to blow up one span of the Columbia Bridge . When they got within sight, the gentlemen charged with the execution of that work repaired promptly to the bridge, and commenced sawing off the arches and heavy timbers preparatory to blowing it up powder, which they had arranged for that purpose . After an abundance of time was allowed, and after I supposed every man of my command was over the river, when the enemy had
entered the town with his artillery, and reached the barricade at the bridge-head, I gave the order to light the fuse. The explosion took place, but out object in blowing up the bridge failed . It was then that I felt it to be my duty, in order to prevent the enemy from crossing the river and marching on to Harrisburg in the rear, destroying on his route railroads and bridges, to order to the bridge to be set on fire. The bridge was completely destroyed, thought a vigorous attempt was made to save a part by the soldiers .

I was materially assisted in my operations by Captain Strickler, who had charge of a small force of cavalry acting as scouts . I feel indebted to him for much reliable information as to the movements and force of the enemy.

Major[Charles C.] Haldeman, formerly of the Twenty-third Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, volunteers his services, and rendered me very efficient aid.

Lieutenant-Colonel [David B.] Green, who had charge of the left flank of the position, with a force of 250 men, and Major [George L.] Fried, who took charge of the left wing of the Twenty-seventh regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia, behaved with accustomed coolness and gallantry, and brought off their forces in most excellent order.

Great praise is due to Captain [Joseph] Oliver, Company D, Twenty- seventh Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia, commanding a body of skirmishers of about 70 men, for the skillfulness and boldness with which he handled his men .

The officers and men of my command generally did their whole duty.

Before closing this report, justice compels me to make mention of the excellent conduct of the company of negroes from Columbia . After working industriously in the rifle-pits all day, when the fight commenced they took their guns and stood up to their work bravery . They fell back only when ordered to do so.

I herewith Inclose a list of casualties . *

The prisoners taken - 18 in number 0 were all from the Twentieth Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia, including Lieutenant-Colonel [William H.] Sickle, of that regiment . From information received since the engagement, I feel convinced that if my orders had been promptly obeyed, no prisoners would have been taken .

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Credit: No. 419. Report of Colonel Jacob G. Frick, Twenty-seventh Pennsylvania Militia, of operations June 24-30. The Official records: Series 1, Vol. 27, part 2 Gettysburg Campaign pp. 277-78.
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