Rivers Bridge State Historic Site Preserves Civil War Battlefield

By:Marie McAden


It was at the crossing of the Salkehatchie River on a remote earthen causeway that Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s Union army encountered the most significant resistance in its march through South Carolina.

Dug in behind earthen fortifications on the far bank of the river, 1,200 Confederate soldiers were ready to take on the 5,000-strong Union troops to try to stop them from advancing on Columbia.

Today, visitors to Rivers Bridge State Historic Site in Ehrhardt can walk around the Civil War battlefield where the Confederacy made one of the last stands against Sherman on Feb. 2–3, 1865. A three-quarter-mile trail follows the causeway road to the river and along the still-intact earthen fortifications that served as cover for the Confederates.

The self-guided Battlefield Interpretive Trail features wayside panels that describe how the Union’s direct assault down the causeway was stopped cold by Confederate artillery fire. Unable to advance, the army corps was forced to hack its way through the swamp. By the next afternoon, the Federal soldiers had crossed the swamp on both sides of the Confederate line to finally win the battle.

In addition to the interpretive trail, Rivers Bridge features four cemeteries, including one holding the Confederate dead from the Civil War battle.

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