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150 Years Ago Today: The Battle of Staunton River Bridge: June 25, 1864

The Battle of Staunton River Bridge: June 25, 1864:

The Wilson-Kautz Raid is Turned Back

Note: I’d like to take a moment to highlight the Staunton River Battlefield State Park web site, which focuses exclusively on this little battle.  Go check it out.

Brief Summary: The Battle of Staunton River Bridge was the turning point of the Wilson-Kautz Raid.  The railroad bridge over the Staunton River just south of Roanoake Station, Virginia (modern day Randolph) was Wilson’s final objective, but he would not quite reach it.  A small Confederate Reserve battalion under Captain Benjamin Farinholt protected the bridge, only 296 men.  Farinholt sent word from reinforcements from the surrounding area when he learned of the Union cavalry’s approach, and he was rewarded with an additional 600+ men.  Farinholt had two earthworks positioned south of the river (note the map below is oriented so that the top of the map is facing south rather than north), with four guns in the larger eastern work, and two in the smaller western entrenchment.  The map below, prepared by someone on the Union side, is accurate in depicting the Confederate artillery.

Battle Of Staunton River Bridge: June25, 1864 (OR Vol. XL, P1, Pg631)


In mid-afternoon Kautz’s Union cavalry approached the bridge after an artillery bombardment, Spear to the east of the railroad and West to the…wait for it…west side of the tracks.  After four attacks between that point and sundown, the ad hoc Confederate force protected the bridge and prevented it from being burned, saving an important Confederate supply line from being damaged even further.  To make matters worse for Wilson and Kautz, W. H. F. Rooney Lee’s Confederate cavalry division caught up with the Yankee raiders and started to pressure their rear.  It was time to go, and from this point forward until the end of the raid, Wilson and Kautz would find themselves in some tight spots, particularly at Ream’s Station on June 29…

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