Fallen Heroes: Private Jacob Fribley

Antietam Battlefield

The battlefields of the Civil War are well known to most students of history, and in some cases certain parts of those battlefields become famous. The Burnside Bridge on the Antietam battlefield is one example. This fallen hero gave the ultimate sacrifice defending that landmark.


Jacob Fribley (1784-1852) was born in Pennsylvania and, shortly after marrying Elizabeth Woods (1789-1869) there, he moved to the area that is today York Township, Tuscarawas County. The couple had several children and one of their sons, David Fribley (1819-1897), married Margaret Luphor (1818-1902) in 1840. They raised five children, including two sons, one of which was named after his grandfather, Jacob Fribley (1843-1862).

Jacob, his older brother Henry (1842-1862), and his two sisters spent their youths working on their father’s farm. When the Civil War began, the two Fribley boys did not have to wait long to serve; Henry in the 80th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment and Jacob in the 30th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment. The 80th regiment served in the western theater while the 30th served in both the eastern and western theater. Neither son would survive the war.

Flag of the 30th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment. (Source: https://ohiomemory.org/digital/collection/flags/id/779/rec/9)

Jacob enlisted in the 30th Regiment’s Company I organized by Captain George Hildt at New Philadelphia in August 1861. The company then marched to Camp Chase, Ohio and was officially mustered into service there. When the company was formed, it included three commissioned officers, thirteen noncommissioned officers, one musician, and sixty-one privates. The regiment was then marched into West Virginia to serve in the Kanawha Division where they would serve for most of 1861 and 1862 securing posts and battling “bush whackers.”

The regiment’s major engagement occurred when they were called east to take part in the Second Battle of Bull Run in late August 1862. Jacob Fribley and the regiment were assigned to Union General Pope’s Headquarters and could hear the cannonading and musket fire from the battlefield. Their next taste of battle was in the middle of September when the regiment took an active role in the Battle of South Mountain during the Maryland Campaign. Three days later, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, the regiment’s next battle proved to be Jacob Fribley’s last.

Battle of Antietam with location of the 30th Ohio Volunteer Regiment circled in red. (Source: loc.gov)

The evening of September 16th the regiment, part of Colonel Hugh B. Ewing’s Brigade, formed under cover of the ridge east of the Antietam Creek, and southeast of the famous Burnside Bridge. The following morning it followed the left bank of the Antietam to Snavely’s Ford where it crossed and moved up the right bank of the stream towards the bridge. It then advanced in support of Rodman’s Division over hills and ravines to a point where it met and temporarily checked the advance of Confederate General A.P. Hill’s Division. Eventually their left flank was turned by the Confederates and it was forced to retire from the field.

The 30th Ohio suffered 13 men killed, including both color bearers, and 49 men wounded in action. Private Jacob Fribley was among the wounded, but his wounds proved fatal and he died on October 10, 1862. His body was sent home for burial and he was laid to rest in the Old Town Cemetery in Barrs Mills. His brother, Henry Fribley, died of disease the same year while serving in the 80th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

Jacob Fribley’s Headstone (Source: findagrave,com)

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© Noel B. Poirier, 2021.

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