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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Chatham Heights in Stafford County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Pontoon Bridges

 
 
Pontoon Bridges Marker image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., January 5, 2008
1. Pontoon Bridges Marker
Inscription. At Fredericksburg, the Union army crosseed the Rappahannock River by means of temporary, floating bridges built upon pontoons. In front of you is a reconstructed section of such a bridge, built to eighty percent of its original size. More than 30,000 Union soldiers crossed the two bridges that spanned the river below you.

Under ideal conditions skilled engineers could construct a bridge in a couple of hours. First, they would row or pole pontoon boats into the river. Then they would connect the boats by means of large side rails known as bulks. Wooden boards, called chesses, placed across the bulks as flooring completed the bridges. Engineers staked the bridge to the shore and dropped anchors in the river to steady it against the force of the current.
 
Erected 2007 by Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
 
Location. 38° 18.493′ N, 77° 27.379′ W. Marker is in Chatham Heights, Virginia, in Stafford County. Marker can be reached from Chatham Lane. Touch for map. Marker is located at Chatham Manor, part of the Fredericksburg National Military Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 120 Chatham Ln, Fredericksburg VA 22405, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers.
Pontoon Bridge and Marker image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., January 5, 2008
2. Pontoon Bridge and Marker
"...In front of you is a reconstructed section of such a bridge, built to eighty percent of its original size."
At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A Bloody Crossing (here, next to this marker); Between Battles (here, next to this marker); Bombardment (a few steps from this marker); Beleaguered Town (a few steps from this marker); A “Picture of Desolation” (within shouting distance of this marker); A Changed Landscape (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Sow…Tend…Harvest (about 500 feet away); Beyond the Big House (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Chatham Heights.
 
More about this marker. The caption for the picture reads, "Union engineers constructed pontoon bridges at three points of the Rappahannock River. This photograph, taken in June 1863, shows pontoon bridges at Franklin's Crossing, two miles down stream."
 
Also see . . .
1. Building Pontoons on the Rappahannock. Harper's Weekly illustration, and links to accompanying article, of the building of pontoon bridges across the Rappahannock in May 1863. (Submitted on January 14, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.) 

2. Civil War Pontoon Bridges. An article by Robert Niepert, hosted on the Florida Reenactors Online website. (Submitted on January 14, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.) 
 
Categories. MilitaryNotable EventsWar, US CivilWaterways & Vessels
 
Model of Pontoon Boat and Wagon image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, November 10, 2007
3. Model of Pontoon Boat and Wagon
At the Chancellorsville visitors center, this model shows a pontoon boat and wagon. "Six horses pulled each pontoon wagon. The engineers launched the boats and anchored them side by side across the water. Pre-fitted timbers and planks finished the bridge."
Where the Engineers Worked image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, December 13, 2008
4. Where the Engineers Worked
Low ground in front of Chatham where the engineers worked on the pontoons. The ground is within the park boundary along CR 607, but has no parking areas.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on January 14, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,480 times since then and 59 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on January 14, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.   3. submitted on January 26, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   4. submitted on December 14, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
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