Monday, August 1, 2016

22nd Michigan at Seven-Mile Island on the Tennessee River (source error? as near Bridgeport, Alabama)

Seven-Mile Island might be another name for Long Island, an island in the Tennessee River near Bridgeport, Alabama, but it seems unlikely. The identification of Long Island by this other name (Seven-Mile Island) is problematic. Only one source seems to use it. What's more, there is another district in Alabama using that name.

The name, "Seven-Mile Island," as an island near Bridgeport, Alabama, is mentioned on page 90 of History of Livingston Co., Michigan: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers (Philadelphia: Everts & Abbot, 1880). The Twenty-Second Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment took a train from Nashville, Tennessee (where it had been doing interior guard duty since April 1863) to Bridgeport, Alabama, beginning the trip on September 5, 1863, and arriving there sometime afterwards. The regiment then camped on "Seven-Mile Island" (as it is called in the source) until September 13, 1863.


The camp on so-called Seven-Mile Island would be at the beginning of, or just prior to, the Chattanooga Campaign. General Rosecrans, General Thomas, and the Army of the Cumberland arrived at Bridgeport, Alabama, around the end of August 1863, and began to build a pontoon bridge at Bridgeport, Alabama, in order to cross the Tennessee River. (Thatcher, A Hundred Battles in the West: St. Louis to Atlanta, 1861-1865: The Second Michigan Cavalry, pg. 138-139). The name of Long Island for that island and the nearby town was already in use during the Civil War.

Seven-Mile Island, near Sheffield, Lauderdale County, Alabama
(A different site than the one mentioned in the above source).

A word of caution: There is (now) a Seven-Mile Island Archaeological District and Seven-Mile Island Wildlife Management Area near Sheffield, in Lauderdale County, Alabama, but these could not possibly be the same site as mentioned in the Livingston County, Michigan, source, because they are about 150 miles west of Bridgeport, specifically named in the source. The Seven-Mile Island of this reference is an old place name and was in use at least as early as 1892. Seven-Mile Island, near Sheffield, Alabama, is mentioned in this 1892 source: Poor's Directory of Railroad Officials (pg. 454).

Poor's Directory of Railroad Officials (Poor's Railroad Manual, 1892), s.v. "St. Louis and Birmingham," 454.

Pontoon Bridge, Bridgeport, Alabama, Two Sections Crossing an Island

On Geoffrey L. Blankmeyer's page, it says that the Pioneer Brigade was camped near Bridgeport, but it is not stated whether this particular pontoon bridge was the one built at or near Bridgeport. It seems so. My guess is that the bridge was built over the island called "Long Island," near the town of the same name. It may have been called "Seven-Mile Island" at that time (see source above). I'm not sure of this, though. I'm trying to cross reference the various sources to make sure. Here's the source for the bridge being built in two sections, to cross an island:

The Pioneer Brigade
(Geoffrey L. Blankenmeyer's page)
Bridgeport, Alabama: Pontoon bridge in two sections, crossing an island:
A Michigan regiment built (the) two bridges (in/near Bridgeport): one 1,200 feet, and the other 1,600 feet (built in two sections to cross at the island, and connecting the riverbank to the island, then island to the opposite riverbank). General Morton describes the bridge in a letter to his wife, Mary: "...we have put down two pontoon Bridges across the Tennessee River one of these Bridges is 12 hundred and 12 feet long and the one that we are at now is 16 hundred feet long but it is in two pieces it is built up to an island and we are in camp on the island." (Quote, Blankmeyer's page, finding aid).

(From various sources, including sources above): Troops at Stevenson, Alabama, forded the river, from other sources I find. (Thatcher, A Hundred Battles in the West and W.R. Carter, History of the First Tennessee Volunteers). Carter says they forded it under rebel fire. After crossing the river during the first week of September, the army climbed Sand Mountain in Alabama and crossed the broad plateau; then crossed the extremely steep Lookout Mountain, heading toward Georgia. However, it appears that the 22nd Michigan (above, top of page) was first detached and sent on a mission into East Tennessee. That regiment may not have crossed the mountains, or at least, not until later.

Related facts about Bridgeport and Long Island, Alabama
Some of the communities in that area of Alabama have had different place names over the years, with Long Island, Alabama (a town northeast of the island that bears the same name) being sometimes designated in census as "Carpenter," or "Gross Spring." Island Creek Cove (or Island Creek Cove Road) appears in census in some years, as I recall from family research, and is probably associated with that area, or is very near it.

Long Island, Alabama, has two distinct areas: bluff side (up on Sand Mountain) and cove (a hollow of the riverbank down in the valley). The communities may have borne the same place name in census at times, but would not have been within easy distance of each other ~ they were separated by a steep bluff. The island itself should not be confused with the community of Long Island (but the community was named for the island). The island is not habitable today. Because of these ambiguous or duplicate place names, its sometimes difficult to pinpoint a historic (obsolete) location while doing research, so I take advantage of these place descriptions when I find them.

Seven-Mile Island (p.90 of source)

Title History of Livingston Co., Michigan: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers
Edition reprint
Publisher Unigraphic, 1880
Original from the University of Michigan
Digitized Jul 21, 2010
Length 558 pages

Original Publication: Philadelphia: Everts & Abbott, 1880.

History of Livingston Co., Michigan: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers (book)

Link to digitized book at
Philadelphia: Everts & Abbot, 1880.

Seven-Mile Island mentioned in Official Records:

Official Records, Series 1, Volume 32 (Chapter 44), Part 1 (Reports). 
Washington: Government Printing Office, 1891.

Title of Section: April 12-16, 1864.--Reconnaissance from Bridgeport down the Tennessee River to vicinity of Triana, Ala. (begins page 663).
Section link:

Page 664 (mentions Seven-Mile Island):

[Excerpt from: Report of Brig. Gen. John W. Geary, U. S. Army, commanding Second Division, Twelfth Army Corps. Hdqrs. Second Division, Twelfth Army Corps, Bridgeport, Ala., April 16, 1864.]:

[Date: September 13, 1863]: 

[QUOTE]: Starting at 6.50 a m. on the 13th, having been prevented moving earlier by a heavy fog, we passed through the pontoon below Larkin's Ferry. In South Santa Creek we found but two boats, which were required by Colonel Coleman's command; at Roman's Ferry found one boat. Reached Seven-Mile Island at 7.40 a. m., and found a mail-route across the head of it. We broke up the line by sinking the boat used for it moored in the bushes. No other boats were found on the margin of the island, but we discovered one at Buck's Island, and also at Law's Ferry. From this point beyond we found a continuous chain of mountains on our left with arable land on the river banks, and heavy swamps and morasses between it and the foot of the mountain. Many farms were under cultivation, but the majority of the laborers fled from the fields toward the rebel pickets as we approached, and several fine cotton plantations were visible, one near Guntersville and one opposite Buck's Island. I notified those who remained of the restrictions upon boat-building. [END QUOTE]

United States. War Department. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 32, In Three Parts. Part 1, Reports., book, 1891; Washington D.C.. ( accessed August 8, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.

Pontoon Bridge at Bridgeport (at Island)
Another source mentions the Pioneer Brigade and tells about the bridge at Bridgeport being actually two bridges, because of the island that divides the Tennessee River. It doesn't mention the name of the island. See page 77 of The History of the 84th Reg't Ill. Vols., by Louis A. Simmons (1866).
Pontoon Bridge at Bridgeport

Other subjects of interest: 

The Pioneer Brigade of Michigan Engineers
The Pioneer Brigade Geoffrey L. Blankenmeyer's page

Map of Island Creek Ferry area (modern map with historic mentions)

Short URL:

Subject: 22nd Michigan Infantry, Twenty-Second Michigan Volunteer Infantry, Seven-Mile Island, Alabama

Related subjects (including selected links to subjects within this blog): Rosecrans, Army of the Ohio, Army of the Cumberland, Chattanooga Campaign, Chickamauga Campaign, Lookout Mountain Crossing, Sand Mountain Crossing.

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