Cumberland County, VA | Apr 6 - 7, 1865
Harried mercilessly by Federal troops and continually cut off from turning south to reach Gen. Joseph Johnston's army in North Carolina, General Robert E. Lee and his army headed west along the Appomattox River, eventually arriving in Cumberland County on April 6, 1865. Food and supplies that Lee's men desperately needed were waiting at Farmville, across the river. To get there, Lee needed to use the 2,500-foot long, 130-foot tall High Bridge, which carried the South Side Railroad over the Appomattox. A smaller bridge for wagons was located at the same crossing. On April 6, Lieut. Gen James Longstreet dispatched 1,200 cavalrymen under Major General Thomas L. Rosser to hold the bridges. A 900-man Yankee force of infantry and cavalry arrived first, and set about destroying the bridge. Rosser's men engaged the Union troopers and infantry, nearly destroying or capturing the entire force. Lee's retreating army used the crossing and made it to the awaiting rations at Farmville. The next day, elements of the Union Second Corps overwhelmed Longstreet’s rear guard attempting to set fire to the bridge to prevent Federal pursuit. Union forces were able to save the railroad bridge from destruction and crossed over the wagon bridge in pursuit of Lee’s army. Failure to destroy the High Bridge crossings enabled Union forces to catch up with the Confederates at nearby Farmville.