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Wilson's Raid Through Alabama
and the Capture of Selma

In March 1865 with Confederate resistance collapsing on all fronts, Gen. James H. Wilson led three Union cavalry divisions in a raid from northwest Alabama through the central part of the state. His goals were to destroy the iron furnaces and the Confederate arms manufacturing center at Selma, to destroy the "military school" at Tuscaloosa, and to capture Montgomery. The large contingent of troops were delayed crossing the Tennessee River, which was running at flood stage. On March 22 the raiders left Chickasaw in Lauderdale County and moved toward Jasper, then south to Elyton, where the Oxmoor and Irondale furnaces were destroyed. At Elyton, Wilson detached a brigade under Gen. John T. Croxton and sent them south and west to burn the University of Alabama because it had been training militia and Confederate troops. Wilson continued south to Montevallo. Meeting little resistance, Wilson took Selma on April 2, the same day that saw the evacuation of Richmond, Virginia.