OF BRIDGEPORT, ALABAMA REENACTMENT
During the Civil War, Bridgeport, Alabama was a strategic town on the
Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad. Located in Northeast Alabama, Bridgeport was located on the Tennessee River. A strategic rail bridge crossed the
river here and was a vital link in supplying the Confederate Army of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Thus the strategic bridge was essential to the
campaigns of both armies, only for different reasons.
More than one conflict was fought at and near Bridgeport. None could be called
a battle due to the small number of troops involved. Thus, the primary
conflict fought here was called "siege." It occurred in April
1862; and the following account is taken from T. M. Eddy's book, THE PATRIOTISM OF
ILLINOIS (no Confederate account has been found).
The fight at Bridgeport, Alabama virtually closed Union General Mitchell's campaign. The march to Bridgeport commenced on Tuesday, April 24,
1862. The troops pushed eastward along the line of the railroad over roads so bad that the artillery was often dragged by hand. On the afternoon of
the 29th, Confederate pickets were encountered about three miles from Bridgeport. They were stationed on the bank of a small stream, the bridge
across it having been burned and supported by an infantry and two cavalry
regiments. The former of which engaged our advance, the 33rd Ohio. After half an hour's fighting, in which the casualties were slight, the 33rd Ohio
fell back unpursued, as the Confederates had no means of crossing the
General Mitchell, in the mean time, made a wide detour to the left and came upon a road leading to Bridgeport. Following it, he reached the
Confederate fortifications on the bank of the Tennessee and drew up his force \
in line of battle under cover of a hill which concealed him from the enemy. The whole column then advanced, and reaching the crest of the hill
discovered the Confederate force with stacked arms at its base, eating supper and lounging about, little dreaming of the enemy so near them.
Captain Loomis quickly and cautiously brought his battery to bear upon the main
body of them. The boom had an intimation of what was coming, in the shape of a storm of grape and canister, which went tearing through their
ranks. Many of them fled in the wildest confusion without taking their arms. The main body seized their guns and tried to make a stand, but again the
pitiless and terrible storm of grape and canister swept through them, scattering death and destruction on every band. Our columns fixed bayonets
and swept down the hill-side like a whirlwind, but before they reached the base the whole Confederate force broke and fled with precipitancy,
managing to fire the bridge. Captain Loomis then placed his battery in
position to receive the remainder of the force stationed on the railroad. They
detached into an open field, formed their line of battle and came up within three hundred yards of our forces before they discovered their
mistake, and then that terrible battery informed them. A terrific fire of
canister was poured into them and created another panic. Cavalry and infantry
threw down their arms and fled like sheep.
Thus, the Battle of Bridgeport was lost to the Union Army. Union General Mitchell reported as
follows to the Secretary of War:
The campaign is ended, and I now occupy Huntsville in perfect security, while all of Alabama north of the Tennessee River floats no flag but
that of the Union.
The following photos were taken March 24, 2007 during the reenactment
festivities. The battle reenactment was not fought on the actual
battlefield but on a nearby farm.