Two Bridges Across The Tennessee River

Two Bridges Across The Tennessee River (HMISY)

Location: Decatur, AL 35601 Morgan County
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Country: United States of America
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N 34° 36.893', W 86° 59.021'

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"A Hard Nut To Crack"

— The Battle For Decatur —

In 1860, the Memphis and Charleston Railroad was the only east-west route through the United States south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Maintaining control of this rail line was essential to Confederate strategy. Union Brigadier General Ormsby Mitchell occupied Decatur on April 13, 1862. Confederate defenders attempted to destroy this bridge, but failed. Union troops would destroy the bridge themselves on April 27, 1862. Union troops would occupy Decatur briefly in the summer of 1862 and the fall of 1863, and returned permanently on March 8, 1864. Construction of a pontoon bridge on the site of the destroyed railroad bridge was immediately commenced.

The pontoon bridge that crossed the Tennessee River into Decatur served as the logistical lifeline to the Federal garrison- all food, ammunition, medical supplies, mail, and reinforcements had to cross this bridge. Capture of this bridge, intact, would offer Hood an easy route into Middle Tennessee and Nashville.

Once Hood appeared at Decatur, Granger ordered forward regiments from throughout North Alabama and Tennessee to reinforce the garrison. Among these regiments was the 14th United States Colored Infantry. Raised in 1863 at Gallatin, Tennessee, the 14th USCI consisted primarily of freed slaves from the Middle Tennessee area. The Adjutant of the 102nd Ohio Infantry, who watched them fight at Decatur, recorded: "They are a splendid regiment of men, and would fight the devil."

Under cover of the morning fog of October 28 Hood placed artillery on high ground east of the pontoon bridge. He hoped that placing effective artillery fire on the pontoon bridge would force the Union garrison to surrender.
Marker Number7
Placed ByCity of Decatur
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, September 20th, 2014 at 3:27pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 501495 N 3830336
Decimal Degrees34.61488333, -86.98368333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 34° 36.893', W 86° 59.021'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds34° 36' 53.58" N, 86° 59' 1.26" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)256
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 32-48 Wilson St NW, Decatur AL 35601, US
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