Danville, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Richmond & Danville Railroad
During the Civil War
The building of this modest extension to Greensboro was prolonged for two years by chronic problems: the shortage of labor and materials and the lack of standard railroad gauge. The insistence by North Carolina to use narrow gauged track (4 foot, 8.5 inches) instead of R&D’s five-foot gauge made it impossible to achieve a smooth interchange at Danville. This was later to have disastrous ramifications.
An 1863 letter by Col. A.L. Rives to James Seddon, Confederate Secretary of War, tells of constructing the Piedmont Railroad: ”Few persons but those who have made the attempt have a conception of the innumerable difficulties which retard the completion of a great work of internal improvement in these disjointed times.”
Equipment and materials for the Richmond & Danville and the Piedmont Railroads were allocated by the government or confiscated from other lines deemed less critical. Although the opening of the Piedmont helped maintain a trickle of supplies to the Confederate capital,
Compounding the railroad’s problems were enemy raids. On May 12-14, 1864, Union Gen. August V. Kautz attacked the railroad at Coalfield, Powhatan and Chula Stations. Then, on June 25, Union Gen. James Wilson made a raid on the Staunton River bridge. The span was successfully defended by the Confederate home guard made up of 900 men and boys. After the raids, Lee strongly emphasized to Seddon the importance of maintaining the central railroad routes: ”But if this cannot be done, I see no way of averting the terrible disaster that will ensue.”
All the rest of 1864, the railroad struggled with its burden, until spring brought Appomattox and the end.
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 36° 35.128′ N, 79° 23.066′ W. Marker is in Danville, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Craghead Street east of Bridge Street, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 629 Craghead St, Danville VA 24540, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Richmond & Danville Railroad (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Richmond & Danville Railroad (here, next to this marker); The Worsham Street Bridge (approx. ¼ mile away); Danville Tobacco Warehouse and Residential District (approx. ¼ mile away); Confederate Prison No. 6 (approx. 0.3 miles away); Prison Number 6 (approx. 0.3 miles away); Loyal Baptist Church (approx. 0.4 miles away); Danville Fortifications (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Danville.
Categories. • Railroads & Streetcars • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 16, 2013, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 445 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on June 16, 2013, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.