Richmond & Danville Railroad

Richmond & Danville Railroad (HM18VW)

Location: Danville, VA 24541
Country: United States of America

N 36° 35.128', W 79° 23.066'

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During the Civil War

At the outbreak of the Civil War, the Richmond & Danville Railroad was already part of a rail network that would sustain the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. The Richmond & Danville extension to Greensboro, North Carolina, known as the Piedmont Railroad, was built as part of the war effort in 1862-1864.

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, the railroad gave little satisfaction.

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.
HM NumberHM18VW
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, October 11th, 2014 at 6:50am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 644528 N 4050103
Decimal Degrees36.58546667, -79.38443333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 36° 35.128', W 79° 23.066'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds36° 35' 7.68" N, 79° 23' 3.96" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)434
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 401-519 Riverwalk Trail, Danville VA 24541, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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