Richmond Dispatch, 7/2/1862

Written Accounts
Other Sites

Back • Next


From the Richmond Dispatch, 7/2/1862, p. 2, c. 2

The Chickahominy Bridge. - On Monday last, at the arrival of the train from Richmond at a point on the York River Railroad about nine miles from town, where the retreating enemy bad set fire to and completely burned up a train of cars, Alexander Dudley, Esq., President of the road, accompanied by the Superintendent, Mr. John McFarland, and Captain P. G. Cogillan, of the Va. Ordnance, took a hand car and started in the direction of the White House. On arriving within a quarter of a mile of the trestle bridge which spans the Chickahominy, they observed a locomotive on the track at the far end of the bridge. The engine was enveloped in stock, and it being impossible to determine what was the cause, the parties on the car being armed entered the woods and came up close to the engine. To their amazement they found that the bridge was on fire, and also that two platform cars attached to the engine were in full blaze. Getting upon the bridge they found that there was imminent danger of the locomotive falling through and the whole bridge being destroyed. Fortunately they found in the swamp some Yankee camp kettles, and attaching one of these to a long pole they succeeded in lifting water from the swamp, and after three hours incessant labor they completely extinguished the fire. They then examined the extent of the damage to the bridge, and found that on the White House side 80 feet span of the trestle work and four or five cars loaded with ammunition had been blown to pieces.

The locomotive was headed towards Richmond in front of it were two flats, the throttle was open, and it was plain that the train was started for the bridge with a slow match attached, so as to explode on the bridge, and thus destroy bridge and all; fortunately, however, the tender got partially dislodged, and thus checked the engine until the steam gave out. The scene in the swamps beneath baffles all description; the wheels and axles and heavy timbers of the cars were blown far on either side of the bridge. Cannon shot, shell, cartridges, and commissariat stores were strewn about in every direction, and the stores of various kinds, where they had fallen in heaps, were rapidly burning.

Mr. Dudley returned to Richmond for aid to extricate the engine, and the other two gentlemen, having crossed the swamp, reached Duval's, a Yankee camp, near Mr. Duval's residence. Here we found a large number of tents standing, and piled around were boxes of axes, shovels, spades, and scythe blades, together with anvils, vices, and all sorts of implements for a smithy, as well as carpenter's tools. Smith a forges had been set up and ovens constructed, and all the arrangements indicated great industry and energy on the part of the occupants. The Yankees did great damage on Mr. Duval's premises; they sent his negroes to cut down his oats, and gave him a due bill payable at the White House, which he presented in due course, but was only laughed at for his pains. They gutted and desecrated a church in the neighborhood, and conducted themselves in a most arrogant manner.

The Yankees evidently retreated in hot haste along the railroad. The woods and road all the way are almost literally covered with arms, accoutrements, clothing, and commissariat stores, flung about in the greatest confusion.

The engine saved by the above mentioned gentlemen is worth from $10,000 to $15,000, and is of Yankee make. The importance of the preservation of the bridge cannot be over estimated. One hour later and the engine would have gone through; and had not the parties arrived on the ground the whole structure would have been almost entirely destroyed during the night.

The bridge will soon be repaired, and Mr. Dudley and Mr. McFarland have already cleared the track of obstruction, so that the ambulance train can now go out to the bridge.

It is a singular fact, that Mr. Dudley, many months ago, predicted that the York River railroad would be a temptation to the Yankees to come to Richmond by way of York river, and that the swamp would be to many of them their grave.

Page last updated on 01/15/2008