In June 1864, to deny Gen. Robert E. Lee the use of the South Side R.R. and the Richmond and Danville R.R., Gen. Ulysses S. Grant sent Gen. James H. Wilson and Gen. August V. Kautz south of Petersburg on a cavalry raid to destroy track and rolling stock as well as the Staunton River Bridge (Staunton River Battlefield State Park http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/stb.shtml).
On the morning of June 23, Confederate Capt. Benjamin L. Farinholt dispatched a courier from the bridge to Halifax (then called Banister Town) requesting reinforcements. Capt. William B. Hurt mustered his company of home guards, composed of old men from the community, and Headmaster John Henry Powell gathered young students from his Halifax Academy. On June 25, these old men and young boys helped defend the bridge from destruction by the Wilson-Kautz raiders.