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[542] and from its flames the town of Wrightsville caught fire and several buildings were consumed, but the farther progress of the conflagration was arrested by the exertions of Gordon's men.1 I regretted very much the failure to secure this bridge, as, finding the defenceless condition of the country generally and the little obstacle likely to be afforded by the militia to our progress, I had determined, if I could get possession of the Columbia bridge, to cross my division over the Susquehanna, cut the Pennsylvania Central Railroad, march upon Lancaster and lay that town under contribution, and then move up and attack Harrisburg in the rear, while it should be attacked in front by the rest of the corps, relying, in the worst contingency that might happen, upon being able to mount my whole command from the immense number of horses that had been run across the river, and then move westwardly, destroying the railroads and canals and returning back again to a place of safety. This project, however, was entirely thwarted by the destruction of the bridge, as the river was otherwise impassable, being very wide and deep at that point. I therefore ordered General Gordon to move his command back to York next day, and returned to that place myself that night.

Colonel White succeeded in reaching Hanover Junction and destroying the depot at that place, and also one or two bridges in the vicinity; but he did not, however, destroy all the bridges between that point and York, as one or two of them were defended by an infantry force, as he reported. Colonel French succeeded in destroying the bridges at the mouth of the Conewago, and all the bridges between that point and York; and I sent him to destroy the remaining bridges over the Cordorus, between York and Hanover Junction, which he succeeded in doing, any force which may have been defending them having disappeared. I found no public stores at York. A few prisoners found in the hospital, with some others captured by Gordon at Wrightsville, were paroled. All the cars found at the place were destroyed, but the railroad buildings, two large car-manufactories, and the hospital buildings, were not burned, because, after examination, I was satisfied that the burning of them would probably cause the destruction of the greater part of the town, and notwithstanding the barbarous policy pursued by the enemy in similar cases, I determined to forbear in this case, hoping that the example might not be without its effect even upon

1 These men were Georgians, and it is worthy of note that the town of Darien in their own State was destroyed about this time by an expedition sent by the enemy for the express purpose.

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David S. Gordon (3)
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