July 17, 2012

Torch the Bridges!

One day we came across this marker in Front Royal near a park maintained by the VFW. It tells the Civil War story of an attempt by Federal forces to burn the bridges across the Shenandoah in order to slow down Confederate troops who were pursuing them.

“Torch the Bridges!”

— Battle of Front Royal - May 23, 1862 —
Flanked out of his position on Richardson's Hill, Union Col. John R. Kenly hurried his command north to the bridges spanning the forks of the Shenandoah River. At this spot on the South Fork stood the Front Royal Turnpike Bridge, and the Manassas Gap Railroad bridge was located just east.

The Bridges

Another bridge led over the North Fork.
As the Federals crossed the bridges, the 1st Maryland Infantry (CSA) pressed the Union rear and the Louisianans attacked the flanks.

...The Federal attempt to burn the bridges failed when the Louisianans, led by Gen. Richard Taylor, charged into the flames to beat them out.
The North Fork Bridge was damaged enough, however, that it and the cannon and musket fire from Guard Hill slowed the Confederate crossing. The Federal advantage evaporated when Lt. Col. Thomas S. Flournoy's 6th Virginia Cavalry swam the rain-swollen river and formed for the pursuit.
Present-Day Bridge
You can read the rest of the marker on HMDB.org.

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