Battle for the Bridge

Battle for the Bridge (HMDXW)

Location: Fairmont, WV 26554 Marion County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 28.933', W 80° 8.317'

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The Foundry Fight

— Jones-Imboden Raid —

On April 20, 1863, Confederate Gens. William E. "Grumble" Jones and John D. Imboden began a raid from Virginia through present-day West Virginia against the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Taking separate routes, they later reported that they marched 1,100 miles, fought several engagements, captured 100 Federals, seized about 1,200 horses and 4,000 cattle, and burned 4 turnpike bridges, more than 20 railroad bridges, 2 trains, and 150,000 barrels of oil. Most bridges were soon repaired. Confederate losses were slight. By May 26, both commands had returned to Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.

Here, at the site of the Palatine foundry, a battle for possession of the suspension bridge took place on April 29, 1863. Confederate forces under Gen.William E. Jones attacked Fairmont to destroy the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad bridge upstream at present-day 12th Street. The suspension bridge (1852-1908) spanned the Monongahela River between Fairmont and Palatine.

Jones divided his force, sending the main column up the Beverly and Fairmont Turnpike across the river to the railroad bridge, while the 12th Virginia Cavalry and the 35th Virginia Battalion fought their way across the suspension bridge to go upstream to the rail bridge. The Union garrison here had removed the floorboards, but the Confederates replaced them as they fought their way across. The Fairmont and Mannington Home Guards, with detachments from the 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry, 23rd Illinois Infantry, 106th New York Infantry, and 6th West VirginiaInfantry, opposed them. John Coffman, Jr., of Harrison County, was among the Federals killed, and Perry Watton of Palatine was wounded.

After capturing the foundry, the Confederates rode upstream to the railroad bridge. A trainload of Union reinforcements arrived from Grafton but was driven off. The railroad bridge was destroyed but was repaired a few weeks later. Jones paroled 260 Federal prisoners that night before leaving to attack Bridgeport.

"[Officers] in charge of working parties, commenced the task of destruction, and soon after dark had the satisfaction of seeing this magnificent structure [the B&O bridge] tumble into the water. The bridge was of iron; three spans, each 300 feet. More thantwo years were required for its construction, and six months for the erection of the centers on which to fix the superstructure of iron. It cost $486,333. Much time must elapse before this gap can be closed." —Gen. William. E. Jones
Series This marker is part of the West Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByCivil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 26th, 2014 at 1:13pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 574080 N 4370644
Decimal Degrees39.48221667, -80.13861667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 28.933', W 80° 8.317'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 28' 55.98" N, 80° 8' 19.02" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)304
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1-49 Everest Dr, Fairmont WV 26554, US
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