Part of the USA Today Network

Rebel destroy the Codorus Bridge (Black Bridge)

Early 20th century linen postcard of the Black Bridge, a landmark railroad bridge in central York County, Pennsylvania, between York and Emigsville. During the Civil War, a predecessor bridge was heavily damaged by Confederate forces under the command of Major General Jubal A. Early of Virginia. Author’s collection.

Confederate forces in June 1863 were quite active in York County, Pennsylvania, trying to destroy the logistics and communications infrastructure. Telegraph lines were a particular target, and telegraph stations were often raided, including those at Hanover and Hanover Junction. Another military objective were the railroad bridges. Upon entering Pennsylvania, Confederate cavalry on June 15 and 16 of that year raided the Cumberland Valley Railroad, which was to become a repeated target over the next two weeks. The Gettysburg Railroad was the next Pennsylvania line to receive damage, when a couple bridges between Gettysburg and New Oxford went up in flames. Finally, on June 28 and June 29, the focus shifted eastward to the Hanover Branch Railroad and the Northern Central Railway.
Among the many bridges torched or otherwise wrecked along the NCR’s line was its longest bridge, the 324-foot span over the Codorus Creek near the P.A. & S. Small flour mills.


Aerial view of the modern bridge spanning the Codorus at the spot of the old 1863 Black Bridge, courtesy of Microsoft Virtual Earth.

Referred to as the “Codorus Bridge,” or “Bridge # 98” in the NCR’s 1863 annual report, the bridge also became known as the Black Bridge (giving its name to the nearby road). Confederate troops tried to burn the sturdy structure, but may have resorted to explosives to damage it. The NCR fixed all their bridges within a few days, at times with the help of the U.S. Army Military Railroad, and trains were again running between Baltimore and Harrisburg within a short time following the Battle of Gettysburg.
Here is a partial list of other NCR bridges destroyed by Early’s troops (likely by the 17th Virginia Cavalry):
Bridge #81, a 130′ span over the South Branch of the Codorus at Hanover Junction
Bridge #83, a 35′ span at Geisselman’s
Bridge #86, a 242′ span at Henry Fishel’s
Bridge #88, a 202′ span at Brillhart’s Station
Bridge #89, a 209′ span also near Brillhart’s Station
Bridge #91, a 43′ span at Minich’s
Bridge #98, the 324′ Codorus (today’s Black Bridge)
Bridge #113, a 85′ span farther north
Bridge #114, a 47′ span farther north
Bridge #115, a 55′ span farther north
Bridge #118, a 251′ span at Gut
Bridge #119 a 317′ over the Conewago Creek near York Haven
For more posts on the Confederate damage to the Northern Central Railway, see these posts:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Destruction of Fishel’s Bridge
Rebels destroy the Codorus Bridge (Black Bridge)
Fire on the Conewago