July 22, 1864
There were many battle sites important to the Confederacy war effort in Alabama in July 1864. During that time, U.S. Gen. Lovell Harrison Rousseau commanded the District of Tennessee. When he received orders from Major Gen. William T. Sherman to organize a cavalry expedition to Alabama, Rousseau eagerly volunteered to lead the raid, though he was no horseman. The campaign’s intent was clear: Destroy the Montgomery & West Point Railroad and do “all the mischief possible” along the way. By the end of the raid on July 22, the effort had become one of the most successful cavalry operations in the Civil War. In Opelika, Rousseau’s raiders destroyed or confiscated some 42,000 pounds of bacon, flour and sugar. Union soldiers took six rail cars loaded with leather, but in the 400 miles covered by Rousseau’s troops, destruction of the railroad brought the most devastating, far-reaching effect.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.