FROM JOHN S. GREEN TO MY DEAR PARENTS – JULY 22, 1864

About this Letter

Concern for Levi

John S. Green, writing from the U.S. Hospital in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, informs his parents that he has heard from Marvin but not from Levi. According to Marvin, the last time Levi was seen, he was about 4 miles from the field and may have been taken as a prisoner. John requests that his parents write to him if they hear from Levi. John also inquires about the boxes and the last five dollars he sent, and asks his parents to let him know the dates of any letters they receive from other family members. The letter is dated July 22, 1864.

Researcher’s Note: I had a chance to work with my father before his death, and he pointed me toward Wilson’s Raid on Southside & Danville Railroad June 22–30. It is believed that Levi was captured June 23, 1864; initially sent to Andersonville, GA, and later died at Lawton/Millen, GA as pow. 

The location of his capture is believed to be at the Staunton River Bridge, also known as Roanoke Station, which was a crucial transportation hub during the American Civil War. Located in Halifax County, Virginia, it was a vital link in the Southside & Danville Railroad, which connected the Confederate capital of Richmond to the Confederate-controlled areas in southern Virginia and North Carolina.

The Union forces attacked the bridge, which was defended by Confederate forces under the command of Captain Benjamin L. Farinholt. Despite the arrival of 642 reinforcements, the Union forces were repulsed and suffered heavy casualties. The Confederate defense of the bridge ensured the survival of the Richmond & Danville rail supply line, which was crucial for supplying the Confederate army. The battle ended with a Confederate victory, and the area where the battle took place is now preserved as part of Staunton River Battlefield State Park.

Text taken from the image above:

ROANOKE STATION The Battle of Staunton River Bridge

WILSON-KAUTZ RAID

In late June 1864, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia were engaged in a desperate defense of the city of Petersburg. Victory for Lee depended on a steady flow of supplies from the west, brought in by rail, to Petersburg from Danville, Lynchburg, and the Shenandoah Valley. To stop the flow, Union Gen. U.S. Grant planned to cut Southern supply lines. He ordered a cavalry raid west to tear up tracks and destroy railroad stations and bridges. On June 22, 1864, Union Gens. James H. Wilson and August V. Kautz, commanding more than 5,000 cavalry troops and 16 pieces of artillery, left Petersburg to destroy tracks on the Richmond & Danville Railroad and to burn the Staunton River Bridge.

At Roanoke Station, 296 Confederate reserves under the command of Capt. Benjamin Farinholt were stationed at the bridge. Receiving word that a large Union force was headed toward the bridge, Farinholt sent out an urgent plea for volunteers. Within days, his command was bolstered by 642 reinforcements. Of these, about 150 were Confederate regulars who were home on leave or in transit, among them Col. Henry E. Coleman, on wounded furlough in Halifax. The remainder were local citizens, either too old or too young for regular duty.

On the oppressively hot afternoon of June 25, 1864, the Union cavalry arrived at Roanoke Station. Though badly outnumbered and outgunned, Farinholt’s determined forces, including Col. Coleman’s defenses at the bridge, repulsed four separate Union assaults and saved the bridge. The “battle at the bridge” has been retold countless times and has become an important part of the heritage of Southside Virginia.

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