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How to Get Your Horse Back from a Confederate General [The Scribbler] | Local voices

This is the story of an unusually valuable four-legged animal.

Scribblers participated as part of the annual RiverFest held June 25-26. We have taken the centenary booklet “Fartest East” published in 1963. It described the burning of the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge in the summer of 1863. The burning of the bridge halted the progress of the Confederate forces at the eastern end of their reach at Gettysburg. promotion

At the end of the booklet Confederate General John B. There is an anecdote taken from Gordon’s informative and entertaining “Reminiscences of the Civil War.” Gordon’s brigade marched from York to Wrightsville. To prevent Gordon’s soldiers from crossing the Susquehanna River into Columbia, Union troops burned the bridge — an action that was partially reenacted Sunday night.

The anecdote printed in the booklet is mostly correct but omits some interesting details. This column item is based on Gordon’s original text.

Additional horses were needed for the Gordon army. He took a mare by “Pennsylvania Dutchman.” The mare’s owner protested directly to Gordon, “You’ve got my mare.”

Gordon explained that Union troops were stealing Confederate horses and that they were only trying to “balance the accounts.” When the “Dutchman” demanded that he be paid, Gordon offered Union money, or an IOU, which was flatly refused.

“They struck me in such an angry fashion that, although I could not translate them into English, I had no difficulty in perceiving their meaning,” said Gordon, before reporting the few words he understood.

The “Dutchman” said to the general: “I’m married, sir, and I’m not a geif dat mare to all dose women.”

Gordon, describing himself as a “woman admirer (sic)” and a “great lover of fine horses” yielded to the mare’s owner’s “sincere and earnest entreaties” and returned the animal.

About 750,000 soldiers died from wounds or disease during the Civil War. Many more were disabled. Countless civilians suffered death and destruction of property.

But, once in a while, the humanity of man overcame the rude wreckage of war.

Another Columbia Bridge

Walking through Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park recently, Scribbler found another Columbia Bridge. It is on the Schuylkill River, not the Susquehanna.

The Columbia Railroad Bridge at Fairmount Park is the third crossing at that site. In 1834 the first bridge was built by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad.

(The same year the Philadelphia & Columbia built a bridge across the Susquehanna at Columbia. Train cars crossed the river on that bridge until General Gordon’s soldiers burned it to prevent them from crossing in 1863.)

The bridge over the Schuylkill was purchased by the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad in 1851. The railroad built a replacement bridge in 1886 to carry heavier freight.

The current concrete arch bridge over the Schuylkill was built in 1920. It owns the CSX Trenton Subdivision rail lines. Seven arches span the Schuylkill, a small river compared to the Susquehanna.

The Columbia Bridge in Fairmount Park is not nearly as impressive as the concrete 28-arch bridge built across the Susquehanna in 1930. The local crossing is formally named the Veterans Memorial Bridge, but most people call it the Columbia Bridge.

If you want to see the “Columbia” bridge that doesn’t cross the Susquehanna, drive to Fairmount Park. The bridge is near a prominent statue of Philadelphian John B. Kelly Sr., Olympic rowing champion and father of the Princess of Monaco.

Jack Brubaker, retired from the LNP staff, writes “The Scribbler” column every Sunday. He welcomes comments and contributions at [email protected]

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