The Battle of High Bridge was fought on April 6 and April 7, 1865, near the end of the Appomattox Campaign of the American Civil War. On April 6, the Confederate cavalry fought stubbornly to secure the Appomattox River bridges. On April 7, elements of the Union II Corps came up against Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's rear guard attempting to fire the High Bridge and wagon bridge. Union forces were able to save the wagon bridge over which the II Corps crossed in pursuit of Gen. Robert E. Lee's army. Failure to destroy this bridge enabled Union forces to catch up with the Confederates at Farmville.
High Bridge, 2,500 feet long and 126 feet high, was the crossing of the South Side Railroad over the Appomattox River and its flood plain, four miles northeast of Farmville. A wooden bridge for wagons was located below the railroad bridge. During the retreat of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, they had moved north of the river, except for a rear guard provided by Longstreet's corps at Rice's Station on the southern bank. The bridges had to be protected and then destroyed to delay the pursuit of the Union Army under Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.
On April 6, Longstreet dispatched 1,200 Confederate cavalry under Maj. Gens. W.H.F. "Rooney" Lee and Thomas L. Rosser to protect the bridges from Union raiders. Union Maj. Gen. Edward Ord, commanding the Army of the James, sent about 900 men under Bvt. Brig. Gen. Theodore Read (Ord's chief of staff) to take the bridge. The force consisted of the 123rd Ohio Infantry and the 54th Pennsylvania Infantry, commanded by Lt. Col. Horace Kellogg of the 123rd, and three companies (80 troopers) of the 4th Massachusetts Cavalry under Col. Francis Washburn. The cavalry reached the bridge before the main Confederate force, chased away some home guards, and secured the south end of the bridge.
While Washburn prepared to set fire to the bridge, three brigades of Confederate cavalrymen arrived ...