Union troops also crossed the Salkehatchie River several miles below Rivers Bridge. Their movements do not appear on this map.
After the battle the Union commander called the Confederate line at Rivers Bridge "the strongest position I ever saw in my life."
1. Locate Rivers Bridge State Historic Site and the Salkehatchie River on a South Carolina map. Locate Columbia, the capital of South Carolina. With Union troops marching North towards the capital, why do you think Confederate troops defended Rivers Bridge? Why do you think it was important for Union forces to defeat the Confederates at Rivers Bridge?
2. Now examine the physical features of Rivers Bridge as shown on Map 1. Locate the Confederate position (Identified as "Rebel Works," they are between the Salkehatchie River and the open field on the north side.) and the route taken by the Union forces to flank the right end of the Confederate line (shown as "Cut Road Through Swamp" and "Road Cut by Federals").
3. How did the Confederates use the natural features of the site to create a strong defensive position? What difficulties did the Union troops face in attacking this position? What difficulties did they face in going around it? How might the Union troops have used some of the natural features to their advantage?
¹The Battlefield at Rivers Bridge, Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1891-1895), Plate LXXVI.
* The map on this screen has a resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi), and therefore will print poorly. You can obtain a larger version of Map 1, but be aware that the file may take as much as 51 seconds to load with a 28.8K modem.