Averell's Salem Raid

Averell's Salem Raid (HM21FI)

Location: Covington, VA 24426 Alleghany County
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 46.307', W 79° 57.995'

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Narrow Escape at Island Ford Bridge

In December 1863, Union Gen. William W. Averell's 2,500 cavalrymen raided Salem, Virginia, to disrupt the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad supply line to Confederate Gen. James Longstreet, who was besieging Knoxville, Tennessee. After the raid, Averell's men marched north over frozen mountain roads and flooded streams including Craig's Creek as Confederate pursuers closed in.
Two miles east of here at Island Ford Bridge over the flooded, icy Jackson River, Confederate Col. William L. "Mudwall" Jackson's 19th Virginia Cavalry held the crossing and planned to burn the bridge to prevent Averell's escape. Averell's cavalry, however, raced around Jackson's position by a shortcut through an icy, narrow ravine off Rich Patch Road on December 19. Horses slipped and fell, and Averell's men were stretched out over four miles. They rode onto the Dibrell's Springs and Lynchburg Turnpike (present-day U.S. Route 60) at dusk a mile from the bridge and swept aside the Confederates waiting to burn it. The Federals poured across and escaped, except for the rear guard and supply wagons, which Jackson prevented from crossing with a rare night attack on the bridge.
The next morning, Confederate sharpshooters repulsed Averell's attempt to rescue his rear guard, and Averell burned the bridge. When the Confederates moved downstream
to defend another bridge, the Union rear guard set fire to the wagons and crossed the river at Holloway's Ford a mile south of here to rejoin Averell. Four men were swept away and drowned.
Visit the Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce & Tourism website at www.visitalleghanyhighlands.com
Union cavalry crossing Craig's Creek ten miles south of here, Harper's Weekly, Jan. 16. 1864 issue.
Gen. William W. Averell Courtesy Library of Congress
Col. William L. Jackson Courtesy West Virginia University Library
Island Ford Bridge, view of replacement covered bridge Courtesy Alleghany Historical Society
HM NumberHM21FI
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, September 5th, 2017 at 7:01am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 591012 N 4180997
Decimal Degrees37.77178333, -79.96658333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 46.307', W 79° 57.995'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 46' 18.42" N, 79° 57' 59.7" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)540
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling West
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 102 Mall Rd, Covington VA 24426, US
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