Wrightsville “Farthest East” Monument Dedicated on July 4, 1900
Photos courtesy of Bobby Housch and the popular Gettysburg Daily blog. Taken in September 2009 with Scott Mingus while videotaping a tour of Wrightsville’s Civil War heritage.
This impressive old Civil War memorial has stood for more than a century at the intersection of Hellam Street (once the famed Lincoln Highway) and Fourth Street in downtown Wrightsville, Pennsylvania. It commemorates the town as the point farthest east reached by the Confederate army during the 1863 Gettysburg Campaign. Union militia burned the mile-and-a-quarter long wooden covered bridge over the Susquehanna River to prevent the Rebels from marching into Lancaster County.
Here is an old newspaper account of the dedication of this memorial, an event that marked the apex of the summer season of 1900 for the residents of the river town.
Baltimore Sun, July 10, 1900. newsinhistory.com
Note that the reporter got his facts a tad incorrect. Brigadier General John B. Gordon, of course, did accompany his brigade to Wrightsville and in fact watered his horse in the Susquehanna River. The Union militia was the local command of Colonel Jacob G. Frick, a future Medal of Honor recipient who reported to Major General Darius N. Couch (not Crouch) who was in his Harrisburg office during the invasion.
The main speaker for the dedication ceremony was one-term U.S. Congressman Edward Danner Zeigler, a Democrat originally from Bedford, PA. He graduated from Pennsylvania College at Gettysburg in 1865. He then taught classes at the York Academy for a couple of years before studying law. Zeigler was admitted to the bar in 1868 and established a law practice in York. He served as the county commissioner’s clerk in 1871-72 and was a counsel to the board of commissioners for a time before becoming the district attorney of York County from 1881 until 1883. He was a delegate to the 1884 Democratic National Convention.
York Countians elected Zeigler as a Democrat to the Fifty-sixth Congress. Despite his frequent public appearances such as the Wrightsville monument dedication speech, he was an unsuccessful candidate for renomination in 1900.
He resumed the practice of law and was appointed by the judge of the court of common pleas of York County to be the auditor of the offices of prothonotary, register of wills, clerk of the court, treasurer, and recorder of York County. He served from 1923 to 1925.
He returned to his law practice in York until his death there in 1931. He is interred in Prospect Hill Cemetery along North George Street.
(Information from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress).
Confederate cavalryman James Hodam rode by this intersection on June 29, 1863 following the unsuccessful expedition to capture the vital bridge. Riding down to the river bank, he noted that “the remains of iron foundries and mills strew the ground while nothing of the bridge remained except some thirteen great stone pillars with here and there a piece of burned timber clinging to them….” On the far bank, the Virginian could see “the glint of the Federal sentinels’ muskets.”
Knowing that the mission was a failure and the troops were being recalled to their base camps in York, Private Hodam and his comrades in Company C of the 17th Virginia Cavalry took “a longing look at the blue-coated sentinels on the Columbia shore of the Susquehanna” before returning to York to rejoin their commander, Colonel William H. French.
Hodam and his colleagues were among the Rebels who reached the “farthest east” point commemorated by the 1900 Wrightsville monument.