Download Rousseau`s Raid In July of 1864, Union commander General

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Rousseau's Raid
In July of 1864, Union commander General William Tecumseh Sherman
sent cavalry under Major General Lovell H. Rousseau into Alabama with
the mission to cut the one remaining rail link to Confederate forces
defending Atlanta. The West Point and Montgomery Railroad was the
vital supply line for munitions from Selma and war materiel stored at
Montgomery for the Confederate Army in Georgia under General Joe
Rousseau gathered 2,500 troops in Union occupied Decatur with cavalry
from the Eighth Indiana, Second Union Kentucky, Fourth Union
Tennessee, Ninth Ohio, and the Fifth Iowa. The artillery support came
from the First Michigan, armed with ten pound parrot cannons. On 10
July 1864 Rousseau left Decatur and went south through Somersville,
Blountsville, and Asheville. On 13 July 1864 the Union force reached
the Coosa River ferry at Greensport.
Battle of Ten Islands Ford
During the night of 13 July 1864, Rousseau sent an initial force of
200 across the Coosa River by ferry at Greensport to secure the
opposite side in advance of the crossing of the main Union cavalry.
Four miles south of Greensport was Ten Islands Ford in St. Clair
County, which offered another good position to cross the river. In
the early morning of 14 July, the Rousseau advance force skirmished
with Confederates on the east bank of the river. At the same time,
the main portion of Rousseau's force began to cross the Coosa River
at Ten Islands Ford. They were opposed by 200 Confederate cavalry
under General James H. Clanton. The Confederate troops from the Sixth
Alabama Cavalry and Eighth Alabama Cavalry attempted to stop the
initial Union advance. The initial Union troops were reinforced by
the Eighth Indiana, and met heavy but short resistance from
Confederates on the east side of the river. Soldiers from the Fifth
Iowa and Fourth Tennessee Union Cavalry took up positions on two
islands in the river, and succeeded in driving the Confederates from
the opposite side of the river, and thereby safely securing the river
crossing. The Eighth Indiana was also successful in routing the
Confederates from the road to Greensport.
Janney Furnace
After the engagement at Ten Islands Ford, Rousseau also destroyed the
Janney Furnace in St. Clair County. The iron works had produced
cannon balls and iron sheet metal for the arsenal at Selma, and was
completely burned by the Union cavalry. A large amount of
manufacturing equipment was also burned, which had previously been
moved from the Janney Foundry in Montgomery.
On 15 July 1864 Rousseau occupied Talladega. Here his force burned a
railroad depot, rail cars, and a gun factory. It also captured a
large amount of food supplies, which was destined for Confederate
forces in Atlanta. After leaving Talladega, Rousseau employed
tactical deception and moved in the direction of Montgomery. This was
in order to disguise his real aim of cutting the rail line to
Atlanta. Last minute defensive preparations had been attempted in
Montgomery, but would have been completely inadequate to repel a
force of Rousseau's size. Rousseau then turned east and bypassed
destroying the Tallessee Arsenal, which had recently begun
manufacturing the carbine for use by the Confederate Army.
On 17 July 1864, Rousseau first reached his primary objective of the
West Point and Montgomery Railroad at Loachapoka in Lee County. Here
the Union cavalry began demolishing the railroad for several miles.
The tactic used to destroy the railroad was common to forces under
Sherman, and involved burning pine railroad cross ties and melting
iron tracks until they were bent and completely unusable. The Union
cavalry also burned a small supply depot at Loachapoka.
Auburn Skirmish
On 18 July 1864, troops from the Ninth Ohio Cavalry destroyed an
additional six miles of the West Point and Montgomery Railroad
between Auburn and West Point, Georgia. In addition, a large amount
of supplies was destroyed and a train was captured that had been
traveling from Opelika, and was destroyed. The Ninth Ohio was
initially fired on by a small force of 18 that was hastily gathered
from among the 400 Texas troops at the Confederate hospital in
Auburn. This Confederate force was quickly repulsed.
Battle of Chehaw Station
At the same time as the action at Auburn, the Fifth Iowa, Eighth
Indiana, and Fourth Tennessee Union Cavalry were sent to Chehaw
Station in Macon County. A force of 500 Confederate troops had been
rushed into the area by train from Montgomery. The vast majority of
Confederate forces at Chehaw Station consisted of 16 and 17 year old
boys from eight companies of H.C. Lockhart's Battalion. There were
also 50 University of Alabama cadets who had been on furlough, and
conscripts from Camp Watts in Notasulga.
Rousseau sent in the Union forces to destroy part of the West Point
and Montgomery Railroad that ran between Loachapoka and Notasulga.
The Fifth Iowa Cavalry initially engaged the Confederate force. Armed
with only old muskets, the Confederates put up stiff resistance
before having to fall back to the safety of a ravine. The Fifth Iowa
was then reinforced by the Eighth Indiana and flanked the new
Confederate position to force a withdrawal. Rousseau reported
Confederate causalities as forty dead and wounded in the engagement.
Rousseau's Raid achieved its principal aim with the destruction of
over thirty miles of railroad and the disruption of critical war
supplies to Atlanta by rail from central Alabama. This came as a
critical blow for Confederate forces fighting in Atlanta. A massive
repair effort was started for the West Point and Montgomery Railroad,
but was hampered since the original railroad ties had been melted and
bent beyond use by the Union. With the effort of slave laborers, it
was over a month before the complete rail line to Montgomery was