- Last Updated on 11:58 AM 06/21/12
- BY Special to the Gazette
In June of 1864, Union cavalry under the command of General James H. Wilson and August V. Kautz were making a raid through Southside Virginia, leaving a trail of destruction behind them.
Their intention was to cut off the last remaining Confederate supply line; their main objective was the destruction of the railroad bridge over the Staunton River between Charlotte and Halifax Counties.
Fighting against a force of over 5,000 men and far superior artillery, the bridge was saved through the gallant efforts of 296 Confederate troops and 492 "old men and young boys" who gathered at the bridge to defend it from the advancing Federals.
This June 25 marks the 148th anniversary of this vital, but less well-known, battle – the Battle for Staunton River Bridge.
The Historic Staunton River Foundation and the Staunton River Battlefield State Park in conjunction with the Halifax Chapter 1321 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) will host a Commemoration of the Battle of Staunton River Bridge with a weekend full of activities beginning tonight, and the revelry will continue with daylong events on Saturday at the Staunton River Battlefield State Park in Randolph and Clover.
A tentative schedule of events is as follows:
Friday from 8 p.m. to dusk: The Historic Staunton River Foundation and the Staunton River Battlefield State Park will host a wagon ride tour of the battleground in conjunction with the upcoming 148th anniversary of the Battle for Staunton River Bridge on Saturday.
Those participating are asked to bring a flashlight and meet at Fort Hill. The dusk wagon ride tour lasts approximately 45 minutes, and this event is free and open to the public.
• 9:45 am – 10:30 am: The Historic Staunton River Foundation will present commemorative medals to recognized descendants of the participants of the Battle of Staunton River Bridge. A wreath-laying ceremony will be presented by local heritage organizations. Those who are a descendant of a Confederate soldier or a descendant of the known and infamous “Ole Men & Young Boys” who fought to defend the Staunton River Bridge are asked to contact the foundation.
• 10:30 am: Guided battlefield tour and narration will begin at the Staunton River Battlefield Bridge. Parking is available at Roanoke Station in Randolph and the Clover Visitors Center, and a bus will be provided for transportation.
• Lunch – Hotdogs, BBQ, chips and beverages will be available for purchase at the picnic shelter at the Clover Visitors Center. Members of the Sappony Indian Nation will be serving lunch. In addition, Sappony merchandise will be available for purchase. All proceeds benefit the Sappony Indian Nation.
• 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.: Major Ken Sewell and Paul Smith with the 1st Division of the Army of Northern Virginia will present a lecture on the plans for a reenactment of the Battle of Staunton River Bridge. The reenactment will take place in June 2014 on the 150th anniversary of the battle. The lecture will be held in the Conference Room of the Clover Visitors Center. If you are interested in helping organize or would like more information on the upcoming 150th anniversary of the Battle of Staunton River Bridge and the planned reenactment, make every effort to attend this presentation.
• Throughout the day: Living History Encampment presented by Confederate re-enactors from the 14th Virginia Infantry, Co. K and Oliver’s Battery, 21st Virginia, Co. C will be located next to Fort Hill. Prisoner demonstrations, camp life, weapon demonstrations, interpretive demonstrations and Confederate cooking will be shown for public participation.