(1825 - 1902)
Home State: Pennsylvania
Command Billet: Commanding Regiment
Branch of Service: Infantry
Frick, born in Northumberland County, was a lieutenant in the Mexican War and enlisted in the Union army in 1861 at Pottsville as a lieutenant colonel of the 96th PA Infantry, with whom he served til 29 July 1862.
He was appointed Colonel of the new 129th Infantry as it was formed 15 August 1862.
On the Campaign
On the morning of the 14th, the brigade started on the march through Maryland, arrived at the Monocacy on the 16th, where it was halted, and on the 17th resumed the march to the sound of heavy cannonading, arriving early on the following morning on the field of Antietam. But the enemy had by this time retired, and the command soon after went into camp, where for six weeks, with the exception of an expedition up the Shenandoah Valley with the division, the regiment remained engaged in drill and unimportant picket duty.
The rest of the War
Colonell Frick was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his Actions at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville ...
On the 30th of October the army [including Col. Frick and the 129th] commenced crossing into Virginia, and moving down the valley, continuing the movement, with a slight interruption at Warrenton, until it arrived opposite Fredericksburg, and Burnside's bloody, but fruitless campaign was inaugurated. General Tyler in his official report of the battle, says:
" Colonel O'Brien, One Hundred and Thirtyfourth, led the right front; Colonel Frick, One Hundred and Twenty-ninth, the left; Colonel Elder, One Hundred and Twenty-sixth, held the right rear, and Colonel Gregory, Ninety-first, the left rear. These officers discharged their respective duties creditably and satisfactorily, their voices being frequently heard above the din of battle, urging on their men against the terrible shower of shot and shell, and the terrific musketry, as we approached the stone wall. Of their conduct I cannot speak too highly. Lieutenant Colonel Rowe, Lieutenant Colonel Armstrong, Major Anthony, and Major Thompson, are entitled to great credit, for their efforts and officer-like conduct during the engagement ...."
As the Confederates crossed the border into Pennsylvania, Col. Jacob Frick, leading the 27th P.V.M., assembled his men in Wrightsville on the West shore of the Susquehanna River. They prepared to defend the bridge crossing into Columbia. Breastworks were built and the men hunkered down and prepared to defend the mile-long bridge. Frick's orders were to hold the bridge. If it became apparent that the loss of the bridge was imminent, Frick was to destroy it. At all cost, Frick was to hold the Confederates at the Susqehanna. As a number of men went to work barricading the western shore entrance to the bridge, another detail began cutting the roof of the bridge. They strategically removed timbers and drilled long holes into the arches, filling the holes with gunpowder and attaching fuses. The 27th P.V.M. was determined to go to any length to hold the bridge ... or see it destroyed. About 6:00 P.M. on Sunday, June 28th, Col. Frick and his 900 men waited. Squinting into the searing late afternoon sun, their hearts sank as they watched General John B. Gordon and his 2,500 men take their position on the turnpike leading to the Wrightsville Bridge. Our men faced a trained, veteran force which more than doubled their own numbers, plus the Confederates were better armed, comprised of infantry, cavalry, and artillery. Confederate cavalry and infantry attacked skirmishers from Frick's command. Frick's 27th returned fire then rejoined their fellows behind the barricades. The men of the 27th kept up a steady fire but eventually were ordered to fall back to the bridge. One hour and fifteen minutes later, Col. Frick gave the command to retreat. The men prepared to destroy the bridge and the charges were fired, but the resulting explosion barely damaged the bridge. It was still safe enough to cross, and the loss of the bridge would be a considerable victory for the South. True to his orders, Frick sent a detail back onto the bridge. Frick's men ran onto the bridge carrying tinder, incendiary substances, and flaming brands. Hurriedly, they set the bridge ablaze. This ended the battle and prevented Confederates from crossing into Columbia and continuing on to Lancaster. Though outnumbered, the boys of the 27th repelled the enemy, forcing Lee to gather his army at Gettysburg. Three days later, the pivotal battle of the Civil War would take place on the "good ground" outside that small Pennsylvania town.
More on the Web
See his grave site.
Sources: 129th Regimental history data from Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65 Harrisburg, 1868-1871, available at Pennsylvania in the Civil War.
Militia information from members of the Schuylkill County CW Discussion group
The photo above from one at the Library of Congress kindly provided by John Hoptak.
1/23/1825; Northumberland, PA
3/5/1902; burial in Presbyterian Cemetery, Pottsville, PA