Black History

Mayo Bridge

September 30, 2023

Built around 1787, the first bridge ever built here was no match for the floodwaters of the James River. Nor were the following 3 bridges. Then, in 1802, John Mayo built a more permanent crossing with the help of free and enslaved workers. Welcome to Mayo Bridge.


More than half a century later, the Civil War raged. In April 1865, President Davis and the Confederate army abandoned Richmond and fled south on the last open railroad line, the Richmond and Danville. The retreating soldiers set fire to bridges, the armory, and warehouses. The fire spread out of control, and hundreds of people fled the city over the bridges to the Manchester side.


As the Union soldiers moved in, several regiments of the United States Colored Troops rushed to tame the flames. These freed black men who had joined the Union Army had every reason to let the Confederate Capital burn to its ground. Yet instead, they helped save parts of our beloved city.