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Decatur in Morgan County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)
 

Two Bridges Across The Tennessee River

“A Hard Nut To Crack”

 

—The Battle For Decatur —

 
Two Bridges Across The Tennessee River Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tim Carr, February 20, 2010
1. Two Bridges Across The Tennessee River Marker
Inscription. 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,
Tour Stop 7 image. Click for full size.
By Tim Carr, February 20, 2010
2. Tour Stop 7
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.
 
Erected by City of Decatur. (Marker Number 7.)
 
Location. 34° 36.893′ N, 86° 59.021′ W. Marker is in Decatur, Alabama, in Morgan County. Marker is at the intersection of Wilson Street Northwest (U.S. 72) and Raiload Street, on the right when traveling west on Wilson Street Northwest. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Decatur AL 35602, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. First Railroad (within shouting distance of this marker); Decatur and The Civil War in North Alabama (within shouting distance of this marker); Old State Bank Building (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Hood’s Middle Tennessee Campaign and The Battle for Decatur (about 300 feet away); Rising Sun Lodge No. 29 (about 300 feet away);
Picture Left: Union Army Pontoon Bridge 1864-1865 image. Click for full size.
By Tim Carr, February 20, 2010
3. Picture Left: Union Army Pontoon Bridge 1864-1865
Photo from Miller, “Photographic History of the Civil War”.
Battle of Decatur (about 300 feet away); Confederate Leadership at Decatur - McCartney Hotel Site (about 300 feet away); Dancy-Polk House (circa 1829) (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Decatur.
 
Categories. African AmericansRailroads & StreetcarsRoads & VehiclesWar, US Civil
 
Memphis & Charleston Railroad Bridge image. Click for full size.
By Tim Carr, February 20, 2010
4. Memphis & Charleston Railroad Bridge
Memphis & Charleston Railroad Bridge Destroyed by Union Troops, April 13, 1862. Original artwork by Chuck Brown, White Star Consulting, 1998.
The current railroad bridge over the Tennessee River. image. Click for full size.
By Tim Carr, February 20, 2010
5. The current railroad bridge over the Tennessee River.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 6, 2010, by Timothy Carr of Birmingham, Alabama. This page has been viewed 2,012 times since then and 90 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on March 6, 2010, by Timothy Carr of Birmingham, Alabama. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
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