May 17, 1864: The Affair at Madison Station
Madison was the site of a battle in the American Civil War on May 17, 1864, when Col. Josiah Patterson’s 5th Alabama Cavalry, supported by Col. James H. Stuart’s cavalry battalion and a section of horse artillery, drove Col. Adam G. Gorgas’s 13th Illinois Infantry Regiment from the city. Patterson’s men captured the 13th Illinois Regiment’s wagon train, taking 66 prisoners. They also burned Union supplies and tore up the railroad tracks before retreating. Portions of the 5th Ohio Cavalry, the 59th Indiana Infantry, and the 5th Iowa Infantry were sent in pursuit from Huntsville. They skirmished with Patterson’s rear guard that evening at Fletcher’s Ferry on the Tennessee River south of Madison. During the War Between the States, growth was brought virtually to a standstill, and one battle, referred to as “The Affair at Madison Station,” was fought on local soil. The battle took place on May 17, 1864, when the federal soldiers took over the railroad, which was on a direct route for men and supplies to be shipped to Georgia. According to records kept by the Union soldiers, the Confederates had killed 18 and wounded 55, and the Union had killed one, wounded three, and taken 66 prisoners.