Historical Marker Text
On 5 Aug. 1862, two detachments of Union troops left Fredericksburg with the intention of damaging the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. Brig. Gen. John Gibbon led a brigade of some 2,000 men down Telegraph Road toward Hanover Junction, while Col. Lysander Cutler led a smaller force to Frederick’s Hall via Spotsylvania Court House. Near Thornburg, Gibbon encountered Confederate cavalry and turned back. Cutler avoided the Confederates, however, and destroyed two miles of track before returning to Fredericksburg on 8 Aug. The Confederates quickly repaired the damage. 
Orange and Alexandria Railroad
The construction of this railroad, starting in 1850, allowed passengers to go from Lynchburg, Virginia to Washington, DC in only 8 hours. It was a trip that would have taken 3 days before its construction. By the time the Civil War started, the Orange and Alexandria Railroad was less than two decades old, but it would become extremely important to both sides of the army, and was “arguably the most fought over” (Orange and Alexandria…).
It was the most direct route from Washington to Richmond, so it was frequently used as both a supply line and as a route for soldiers to march along. The Union Army spent much of the first three years of the war trying to take possession of this railroad, and the Confederate Army defended it vigorously (A brief Summary…).
For Further Reference:
“Board of Public Works Inventory – Records in the Library of Virginia,” http://www.lva.lib.va.us/whatwehave/gov/bpw.htm (accessed April 30, 2008).
Seigel, C. “Orange and Alexandria Railroad,” http://www.nvcc.edu/home/csiegel/ (accessed April 13 2008).
Seigel, C. “A Brief Summary of the Federal Military Use of the O&A Railroad 1861-1865,” http://www.nvcc.edu/home/csiegel/USMRR%20Use%20of%20O&A.htm (accessed April 13, 2008).