Civil War Series: Railroad, telegraph link cities
By Don Roth
Posted Apr 06, 2011 @ 12:58 PM
Arkansas County —
Statewide the political climate wasn’t mellowing, but the pro-union Arkansas Gazette was reporting on some internal improvements to interest voters. A railroad line was planned to connect Pine Bluff with Napoleon at the juncture of the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers.
The railroad bed was said to be graded with bridges in place. It would be interesting to know the exact route and the distance it traversed across what was then Arkansas County. The Arkansas River, despite its broad width, was a fickle highway with shifting sand and hidden snags. A snag in river parlance is any driftwood including whole trees (and stumps).
These obstructions and others were common causes of fatal accidents that took lives and destroyed freight. Railroad competition could inspire river improvement and generally it was cheaper to transport cotton and all other freight by water.
By mid-July 1860, telegraph connection was in place, linking Fort Smith and Van Buren to St Louis. Six months later, a telegraph line from Memphis to Little Rock was completed. These links were of much commercial and political value and lifted the state from the isolation of frontier status, to a small degree.
A railroad extended west from Hopefield (West Memphis) but terminated at the St. Francis River town of Madison, from unforgiving terrain and financial obstacles. After a 45-mile gap, it made a westward leap from the White River town of DeValls Bluff. By March 1861, the Gazette reported on the work of laying track directly across the river from Little Rock:
“Because the river was low, only a small part of the iron was brought up, but as soon as the river rises, it is expected the remaining iron will be brought and the work on the railroad completed,”
It’s difficult to conceive a major river like the Arkansas to be at low water stage in early spring to where it limited freight passage. With such internal improvements now emerging, the state appeared to be moving up in the world, and not out of the Union.
Also reported on was Land Agent Edward C. Morton, a native of Mississippi. He had different farm tracts for sale, including the Notrebe Place, which later figured in military operations in the vicinity of Arkansas Post. In July, the following year, he is in the wool carding and loom manufacturing business, 30 miles below Pine Bluff, at the Cummins community in Arkansas County. The 40-year-old entrepreneur was constructing looms made from seasoned ash and pricing them at $50. He claimed a good hand could weave 40 yards of plain cloth per day. Wool was the fabric commonly used in making military uniforms because it was durable. Plain cloth was adaptable to Southern climate and very expedient. Poor Northern solders would wearily complain about the oppressive heat while keeping their uniforms woolen, and their canteens full.
Morton also wished to purchase “Spinning Jennys” and was willing to pay high prices for them. A Spinning Jenny was a rectangular frame with a hand cranked belted wheel mounted on the side near the front. A roller with narrow belts or bands spanned the width of the frame near the bottom. A row of vertical spindles lined the top of the frame at one end, while a horizontal, wheel-mounted tension bar lay across the front end. Finally a rack of roving bobbins was positioned near the middle and bottom of the frame.
An increase of public works can sparked an increase of business.
With a tremendous degree of anticipation, I decided recently to set out, Indiana Jones-style, and find a relic from the past. Of course, being limited to Centreville and the surrounding area, I wouldn't find a gold trinket or biblical treasure. Instead, I looked for an archaeological relic—in this particular case a pair of bridge abutments from the Civil War.
"You know, you're kind of reinventing the wheel," Jim Burgess, Ranger and Museum Specialist from Manassas National Battlefield Park warned me. "Others have already written about the unfinished railroad."
They have, indeed, but with the sesquicentennial of the Civil War approaching, I figured now would be a good time to revisit.
The Manassas Gap Railroad played a pivotal role during the Civil War. It connected the Shenandoah Valley with Alexandria, using its own set of tracks until it arrived at a location called Tudor Hall (later to be renamed Manassas), where it joined with the Orange and Alexandria Railroad before continuing on to Alexandria. The strategic convenience for transporting troops of these two railroads inspired Stonewall Jackson to station troops at Tudor Hall, which in turn inspired the Union to send its own troops, resulting in the First Battle of Manassas, or the Battle of Bull Run.
Prior to the war in 1853, according to a 2004 article by William Page Johnson, the Manassas Gap Railroad received permission to establish their own set of tracks from Gainesville to Alexandria, a move which would free them from the substantial right-of-way fees they were paying.
Throughout the 1850s they worked to establish a railbed, which passed through Centreville and continued on through Chantilly, Fairfax and Annandale. The railbed was completed but unfortunately the tracks were never laid, so the only real function this particular construction project ever served is as earthen cover from which Americans could slaughter other Americans.
Most notably, Stonewall Jackson used it during the Second Battle of Manassas. "The Manassas Gap railroad was a chosen line of defense for General Jackson’s troops and they used it quite effectively for cover and concealment," stated Burgess. "Deep Cut is a stretch of railroad grade where Jackson had his right flank dug in. The Union attack on August 29 was focused in that immediate area.”
The Union conducted seven separate charges, which Robert M. Mayo, a Colonel in the Forty Seventh Virginia Infanty would describe as "not surpassed in gallantry by any that was made during the war—not even by Pickett at Gettysburg."
Remnants of the unfinished railroad can be found throughout the county, most notably at Manassas Battlefield and at Manassas Gap Park in Annandale. A few can also be found right here in Centreville. A 1975 article by H.H. Douglas (available at the Virginia Room in Fairfax) retraces the entire route, finding some prominent remains near Poplar Tree and Old Centreville Rd., on Pleasant Valley and Bull Run Post Office Road, and stretching across what was, at the time, Cedar Crest Country Club to where it eventually crossed Bull Run.
The most notable prominence, though, is along Cub Run, where two 15 feet-tall stone abutments were built (to one day house a bridge) and are still there to this day.
With only Douglas' article as a guide I set out to find these abutments. While he gives pretty good street descriptions, the article was written 35 years ago and some things have changed in the area. The abutments are incredibly easy to find, I realize now, but not with three-and-a-half decades old directions. My route took me through a mile or two of woods, slogging through the mud, eventually babbling incoherent questions to a construction worker in the vain hope he'd lead me to them.
He didn't. Instead he drove me to them.
They are at the end of Honsena Road. Just walk straight from there. If you're slogging through two miles of mud, you're in the wrong place.
Some interesting reading part 1 -
Robert C Black III
The Railroads of teh Confederacy
The University of North Carolina Press
Originally published in the early 1950s, new edition 1998
Originally published by UNC Press in 1952, The Railroads of the Confederacy tells the story of the first use of railroads on a major scale in a major war. Robert Black presents a complex and fascinating tale, with the railroads of the American South playing the part of tragic hero in the Civil War: at first vigorous though immature; then overloaded, driven unmercifully, starved for iron; and eventually worn out--struggling on to inevitable destruction in the wake of Sherman's army, carrying the Confederacy down with them.
With maps of all the Confederate railroads and contemporary photographs and facsimiles of such documents as railroad tickets, timetables, and soldiers' passes, the book will captivate railroad enthusiasts as well as readers interested in the Civil War.
Some interesting reading part 2
John E Clark JR
Railroads in the Civil War
The Impact of Management on Victory and Defeat
Louisiana State University Press
Despite popular depictions in film and print, soldiers in the American Civil War did not always travel by horse, wagon, or foot. Advances in railroad systems in the decade before the war allowed the movement of large numbers of troops via railway even though railroads had not yet matured into a truly integrated transportation system. Gaps between lines, incompatible track gauges, and other vexing impediments remained in both the North and South. As John E. Clark Jr. explains in this compelling study, the skill with which Union and Confederate war leaders dealt with those problems and utilized the rail system to its fullest wartime potential reflects each side’s overall war management ability as an essential ingredient for ultimate victory.
After providing an excellent overview of Union and Confederate railway capabilities and effectiveness at decision making, Clark details two specific rail movements as case studies in logistical management. Using exciting stories found in diaries and letters as well as official records and telegrams, Clark explains how the Union wisely and confidently organized and directed the massive undertaking and how the Confederacy, having failed to properly mobilize its rail system for war, did not.
Certain to spark debate among Civil War enthusiasts and interest among business readers, Railroads in the Civil War demonstrates why railroads qualified as the first modern management systems in America.
John E. Clark Jr. teaches American history at the Garrett Morgan Academy for Transportation and Technology, Paterson, New Jersey, Public Schools.
Clark actually make the interesting suggestion that Confederate resources virtually wasted on building a fairly useless navy should have been committed railroad maintenace and construction.
The March 2011 Trains magazine has a reasonable starters article on Railroading in teh US Civil War
MANSFIELD -- In April 1865, the saddest funeral procession in American history passed through north central Ohio. Abraham Lincoln was dead of an assassin's bullet.
He died April 15, 1865, and a week later his body was carried out of Washington on a train for a 12-day journey, covering 1,700 miles. From Washington the route went to Baltimore, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, New York, Albany, Utica, Syracuse, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Chicago, and finally, Springfield, Ill.
On April 26, while the Great Emancipator's body lay in New York state, an actor named John Wilkes Booth was cornered in a barn near Bowling Green, Va., and shot to death. Someone lifted his hands so that he could look at them. His last words were "Useless ... useless!"
The assassin's death was little solace for millions who greeted the Lincoln train with bonfires, torches and sobs as it stopped in larger communities, slowed down at smaller places. At one point, five miles out of Columbus, an elderly woman ran alone next to the train, waving a flower and weeping. The procession moved into history as one of the most stirring public reactions to a leader's death.
Carl Sandburg, in his Lincoln biography, described the funeral entourage this way: "It was garish, vulgar, massive, bewildering, chaotic. Also it was simple, final, majestic, august. By night, bonfires and torches lighted the right of way for a slow-going train. By day, troops with reversed arms, muffled dreams, multitudinous feet seeking the pivotal box with the silver handles. By day, bells tolling, bells sobbing the requiem, the salute guns, cannon rumbling their inarticulate thunder."
In Sandburg's biography is reproduced a copy of the Cleveland, Columbus and Cinci nnati Railroad schedule for the train's route between Cleveland and Columbus. It lists such Mansfield-area points as New London, Greenwich, Shiloh, Shelby, Crestline and Galion. The timetable tells the story of that and Saturday morning of April 29, 1865, when Ohio paid its respects to a backwoods Kentucky boy who gave them a set of enduring ideals to follow.
E.S. Flint, superintendent of the CCC Railroad, had given strict orders about the journey: "This train will have exclusive right of way to the road, against all other trains. A pilot locomotive will be run 10 minutes in advance of the schedule time."
The Ohio procession moved under the added pall of darkness and heavy rainstorm. Lincoln had been laid out in a makeshift pavilion in the Cleveland City Park. The train was schedule to leave for Columbus by midnight. When the pavilion was closed at 10 p.m., an estimated 10 million Northern Ohioans had walked passed the coffin.
The rainstorm hit and at midnight the train pulled out. From Cleveland to Crestline the train chugged through torrents. But mourners along the route kept their vigil, some of them bareheaded. Even bonfires were kept alive and bells tolled constantly. The train went through Berea at 12:43 a.m. and had reached Wellington by 2 a.m. It arrived in dark-shrouded New London at 2:36 and at Greenwich by 3 a.m.
Nineteen minutes later, the Lincoln train passed through Shiloh and at 3:39 was greeted by the residents of Shelby. On to Crestline at 4:07 a.m. and into Galion at 4:23; then to Iberia and through Mount Gilead at 5:05 a.m. Dawn was beginning its slow approach as the train pulled into Cardington at 5:20 a.m. The station there was draped with a white banner which proclaimed: "He sleeps in the blessings of the poor, whose fetters God commanded him to break."
From Cardington the body passed through Ashley, Eden, Berlin, Lewis Center and Worthin gton on the last leg of the journey to Columbus. The train arrived in the state capital at 7:30 a.m.
Thousand per hour viewed Lincoln's remains in the rotunda of the capitol in Columbus. And that was the last glimpse Ohioans had of their president.
But it wasn't the last they heard of him. Lincoln gave himself to his country, even to the point of death. His country continues to give itself to him, all these years later.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011 > Post a Comment
War halted railroad's progress
The line from Dubuque to Cedar Falls had just been completed in early April 1861.
BY ANDY PIPER TH STAFF WRITER
A Starlight 4-4-0 locomotive built in 1857. Historical railroad photo contributed by the Burlington Route. From the TH archives. 4/12/2011.
It took years of planning and private fundraising, but city leaders finally achieved their goal of establishing a railroad line in Dubuque.
The year was 1855 and much more was at stake then delivering passengers between Chicago and Dubuque. Just as in the current circumstance, many difficulties stood in the way, including a short recession. The Civil War then intervened and postponed for five years progress on the ultimate goal of reaching Sioux City and links to the Pacific Coast.
The Dubuque and Pacific Railroad was incorporated on May 19, 1853 and on Oct. 1, 1855 the city celebrated the groundbreaking after $10 million in financing had been secured.
Rail was king in the late 1800s, and speculators flocked to the city hoping to cash in on the economic boom that was sure to follow. Dubuque hotels booked 865,045 travelers in 1855 and 812 families moved to the city from April 12 to July 5, 1856. Land prices doubled.
An advertisement in the Weekly Times, of Dubuque, on March, 8, 1861 declared: Illinois Central Railroad Ticket Office. Tickets to all points in the union. Jos. Chapman, agent. 1084 Julien
A great deal of work still needed to be done. The race to be the first to lay track across Iowa to the Missouri River was in full motion. The Weekly Times declared on April 4, 1861: "At Last! One hundred miles are completed, and the first passenger train passed over the track from Cedar Falls to this city yesterday!"
The paper encouraged the next phase of construction from Cedar Falls to the Iowa River in Iowa Falls to commence at once. The Civil War intervened and halted railroad projects statewide. The next 50 miles wouldn't be set until April 1866. The tracks wouldn't reach Sioux City until 1870.
By then, the railroad bridge had become reality. Discussions about building the bridge across the Mississippi River began in earnest in 1860, when the Illinois Central line was selected for a congressional land grant on the stipulation the line would continue on to Dubuque. Without a bridge, trains unloaded their goods and passengers in what is now East Dubuque. Wagons and travelers crossed the river by ferry. When the river froze in winter, passengers and freight haulers took their chances by wagon or on foot, sometimes having to spread out so as not to center too much weight on the ice.
As the Weekly Times reported on Dec. 12, 1861: "The ferryboat has stopped for the season, and passengers are carried over in yawls. It is to be hoped the river will be bridged with ice in the course of a day or two."
Plans for the bridge, however, wouldn't take shape until after the war ended. Andrew Carnegie visited Dubuque personally in 1867, crossing the frozen river by sleigh, to negotiate terms.
Work on the $1 million project was complete in December 1868 and the bridge officially opened for traffic on Jan. 1, 1869. The bridge was renovated in 1899 and its appearance today is much the same as at the turn of the century.
Civil War stories: Great Train Raid re-enactment first event of its kind
By Laetitia Clayton - email@example.com
While veterans everywhere are being honored Memorial Day weekend, Strasburg also will be paying tribute to a long-ago veteran and icon of the Civil War when it holds a re-enactment of Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's Great Train Raid of 1861.
The event, which will take place May 29, is part of Strasburg's yearlong 250th anniversary celebration. It's also a fitting homage to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
The re-enactment will include a replica of an 1860s locomotive, built by local men, being pulled along U.S. 11 -- from Cedar Creek Battlefield to the Strasburg Museum -- by a team of draft horses, said Strasburg Town Councilwoman Sarah Mauck, who is chairwoman of the town's Great Train Raid Committee.
The procession will leave Cedar Creek at 11 a.m. and end up at the museum at about 2 or 2:30 p.m., Mauck said. Also making the trek will be 100 cavalry re-enactors, a Civil War medical wagon, some supply wagons and the Sons of Confederate Veterans color guard, which will join the procession at Hupp's Hill and walk to the museum, she said.
The re-enactment is based on Jackson's train raid of May 1861, soon after the outbreak of the Civil War. The Confederacy had sent Jackson to Harpers Ferry, W.Va., then still a part of Virginia, to train volunteers gathered there and get them ready for battle. He was also told to remove arms-making equipment from the arsenal at Harpers Ferry so it could be used by the South.
It is said that just two weeks after his arrival at Harpers Ferry, Jackson devised a plan to destroy or steal trains belonging to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad System in order to cut off supplies to the Union. On May 23, 1861, Jackson had the tracks destroyed at Point of Rocks, Md., and Martinsburg, W.Va. -- also still in Virginia at that time -- trapping a number of locomotives and rail cars between those two points.
Confederates then destroyed most of the trapped railroad cars and equipment belonging to the B&O system, except for 14 locomotives with tenders -- or coal cars -- that were found at Martinsburg. These were moved across land by teams of horses and mules, and even men, who pulled the load with ropes. They ended up in Strasburg, where the cars were then sent elsewhere to be used by the Confederacy.
There has been some controversy surrounding the raid, namely in author James I. Robertson's book "Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend." In it, Robertson contests this version of the events and denies that the raid happened.
However, Robertson does say that loads of rail cars were taken and moved to Strasburg, said Richard Kleese, author of "Shenandoah County in the Civil War: The Turbulent Years" and a member of the town's train raid committee.
"He does admit that something happened," Kleese said.
All accounts seem to agree that 14 locomotives at Martinsburg were disassembled and moved across country by horse-drawn teams to Strasburg, where they eventually were sent elsewhere in the South and put to use by the Confederacy.
Kleese said this fact is confirmed in the official book of the B&O Railroad called "B&O Power." The book even lists the numbers of the 14 locomotives that the railroad system recovered after the war, and it is recorded that they were taken by the Confederacy and moved across land.
Mauck said the raid account also is backed by Arthur Candenquist, of Am isville, who is retired from the railroad system and has studied the train raid extensively.
"This is his passion," Mauck said.
In fact, she got the idea for the re-enactment even before talk of the town's 250th anniversary. The seed was planted seven years ago, she said, when Candenquist gave a presentation at the Strasburg Museum. Then, in 2006, former U.S. Secretary of the Army John O. Marsh was a guest speaker at the unveiling of the town's expanded historical walking trail. He also talked about the train raid, she said.
"When Jack Marsh told me the story, I began to think in my mind about a re-enactment for this," Mauck said.
Slowly, the idea came to fruition, with the train raid committee forming in January 2010. There have been many hurdles to clear along the way, Mauck said, the largest being the locomotive.
That's where Kleese came in.
"They asked me to come to a meeting," he said, where there had been talk of using a real locomotive.
But that would cost too much, and also wouldn't meet requirements set forth by the Virginia Department of Transportation. It was eventually decided a replica locomotive would have to be built.
"And I said, 'I know a man who can do that, and I think I can get that done,'" Kleese said, referring to retired local welder Conly Crabill.
Crabill "put his heart to it, and you see the result," Kleese said.
The replica weighs between 5,000 and 6,000 pounds, Kleese said, and has taken hundreds of hours to build. Crabill took a photo of a Civil War-era locomotive in the B&O book, and, with the help of Bill Wine and Dennis Cooper, scaled it up to create their own locomotive by looking at the picture, Kleese said.
Mauck said the locomotive is as historically accurate as the men could get it, using ordinary items they either had or were donated. For example, a dinner bell from someone's yard serves as the locomotive's bell, and an old camper painted red is used as the engine's cab, she said.
"Every detail that they could possibly put into this replica, they've done," Mauck said.
The number 208 is painted in gold on the side of the locomotive, and Mauck said that a No. 208 engine actually came through Strasburg during the war.
With man hours and equipment, the cost of building the replica probably totaled $80,000, she said, adding that the town had $2,100 to give, with the rest being volunteered.
Mauck said the community came together not only to build the locomotive, but also to get the re-enactment in gear.
"This became a story of [present-day] Strasburg, too," she said.
Other events set to take place Memorial Day weekend include Civil War re-enactments, cavalry demonstrations and a Great Train Raid Victory Celebration in Middletown on Saturday, and lectures, train displays and museum exhibits in Strasburg on Saturday and Sunday. Also, artist Mort Kunstler will be in Strasburg that weekend to sign copies of his third train raid print. The print is for sale through the Strasburg Town Office.
Last week marked the 150th anniversary of the beginning of a war that divided the nation and put neighbors at odds in West Tennessee, where soldiers battled for control of communication and supply lines.
The effects of the Civil War were felt across the area as soldiers and civilians took sides, historians said.
West Tennessee's location and the shipment of supplies along railroads meant that Jackson — a railroad hub — played a role in the war, which began April 12, 1861, at Fort Sumter, S.C. The anniversary of the war is being commemorated in Tennessee at Civil War battle sites and other historic landmarks over the next few years.
While there were smaller battles throughout the region, West Tennessee also was the site of one of the bloodiest fights, as more than 23,000 soldiers died during the Battle of Shiloh. Battles in Madison County were fought at spots such as the Old Salem Cemetery on Cotton Grove Road and Britton Lane in the western part of the county.
By the mid-19th century, railroads had become a significant part of the economy in Madison County. During the Civil War, the county was used for recruiting and a place where soldiers from surrounding areas consolidated and trained.
"It made it a danger for a community when they went to a battle because all the boys were from the same (area)," said Jack Wood, Tennessee Room librarian at the Jackson-Madison County Library.
Between the summers of 1862 and 1863, thousands of Union soldiers were set up in Jackson to control railroad lines that sent supplies. There wasn't a large amount of property damage while the Union soldiers occupied Jackson, but there was some stealing of horses and feed, and vandalism, Wood said.
April 17, 2011
Lawrence Civil War re-enactors remember 'the first blood'
By J.J. Hugginsjhuggins@eagletribune.com
LAWRENCE — One hundred and fifty years ago, members of the Sixth Massachusetts Militia boarded trains in Boston and headed south to fight the Confederates.
People cheered as the soldiers rolled through Springfield, Hartford, New York, Trenton and Philadelphia. The troops were on their way to Washington, D.C., to protect the capital and quash the rebellion.
But the mood deteriorated when they arrived in Baltimore, a hotbed of Confederate sympathy, on April 19, 1861.
The troops arrived at President Street Station. A city ordinance prevented locomotives from traveling through town, so the men tried to pass through in train cars drawn by horses. As the story goes, they traveled along the waterfront to Camden Station.
A mob threw sand and ship anchors onto the tracks, so the soldiers had to disembark and walk.
"The southern sympathizers didn't like the idea of Union troops coming across the city," said Dan Gagnon, a historian from Methuen and a member of the Lawrence Civil War Memorial Guard.
The mob attacked with guns, stones, furniture and household items, Gagnon said.
Four militiamen died: Sumner Needham of Lawrence, Luther Ladd and Addison Whitney of Lowell, and Charles Taylor of Boston.
"This is the first blood of the war," said Elizabeth Charlton, vice president of the Lawrence Civil War Memorial Guard.
The Lawrence City Council met as soon as they heard about Needham's death. They immediately established a fund for his wife, Hannah, who was the first Civil War widow in the country, Charlton said.
The Needhams are buried in Bellevue Cemetery in Lawrence.
The attack was a dark day in American history, but an important one. The slain militiamen were considered martyrs, and their killings served as a recruiting tool for the Union, Charlton said.
To commemorate the attack, nine members of the Lawrence Civil War Memorial Guard are in Baltimore this weekend, dressed like the militia and marching through the streets with other Civil War re-enactors.
"It's to educate people about the history," Charlton said.
The hobbyists wear everything from the pants, to the coat, to the belt. They carry real muskets.
The group interacts with the public, but they don't go into character.
"We just never made that leap," Charlton said. "We're largely informational."
The Lawrence contingent is camped on Federal Hill this weekend. They met the Friends of the President Street Station, a group dedicated to preserving the historic train station.
They marched in the City of Baltimore's Grand Procession yesterday, which barred Confederate re-enactors from marching but allowed them to stand by and heckle the Union re-enactors.
The Lawrence group also planned to catch the opening of "The Conspirator," a movie about the woman charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination of President Lincoln. They'll return home on Tuesday, Charlton said.
The Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC) reports that the railroads now have plans to spend millions of dollars to expand rail and port capacity to handle agricultural exports in addition to their existing capacity to handle increasing Asia-sourced intermodal import traffic.
In their most recent newsletter, AgTC officials reported the following developments: 1) Union Pacific (UP) railroad announced a major transload facility in Yermo, about 100 miles outside of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach that is designed to haul dried distillers grains and eventually other products in large volume from the Midwest, then transload into empty ocean containers at Yermo, to be brought to the ports; 2) Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) and UP will be investing in a facility at the Hanjin terminal in Long Beach, which apparently has room for on-dock rail transload capacity; 3) Shafter, Calif., which for years has been discussed as a place to consolidate and aggregate import and export shipments, will have additional transload capacity due to plans by UP and BNSF; and 4) BNSF may be building a large transload facility in Amarillo, Texas, which could handle a number of cargos, including grains, cotton, etc.
The AgTC officials say that while these plans are unconfirmed, just the fact that there is talk reflects what that organization has been saying for some time: “with imports being largely steady, and demand for U.S. agriculture and forest product exports growing, capacity will have to be built to handle the exports. The railroads are doing it and making major commitments; are the ocean carriers ready to ‘change directions’?”
Train rides, moonbounces, live music, model trains on display, Civil War soldiers and a country cowgirl performing on a unicycle are just a few sites at this year's Manassas Heritage Railway Festival.
The free event will take place Saturday June 4th from 10am-4pm in Old Town Manassas. The celebration of the nation's first military railroad and the First and Second battles of Manassas will be spread out on Prince William, West and Main streets.
The huge line-up of performances and activities will also be a preview of the upcoming 15oth Civil War commemoration. Kicking things off the day before the festival will be a "living history" of Civil War Re-enactors, who will be setting up camp on the lawn of the Manassas Museum in full civil war era garb.
The soldiers will be performing cavalry, infantry, and drill demonstrations for the public; living historians and authors will also be on site.
What should one expect the day of the event?
Six different model trains will be on display in the Harris Pavilion, while a variety of rides will be available for children. A kiddie stage will accompnay the main stage, which will feature performances by the Bull Run Cloggers and country and bluegrass groups, Idle Time, SoHo Down and Bull Run Grass.
The Unicycle Cowgirl will also be performing her amusing routine, and weather permitting, her Boston Terrier, Enzo will be assisting her.
You can also take a ride on the Virginia Railway Express "Excursion" train that travels from the VRE station in Old Town to Clifton and back. Trains depart from the station at four different times: 10 am, 11 am, 12 pm, and 1 pm. Tickets for the train ride are $7 a piece and can be purchased beginning Monday, May 23rd. Children under the age of 2 ride for free.
With all the excitement, one is sure to get hung ry, so here is a list of food vendors and their cuisine that will be at the festival:
Asia Fusion - Asian bbq pork, grilled vegetables, chicken on a stick and fried rice
Dylan's Down Home - Savannah wings, battered fries, chili, jalapeno poppers, and Maryland crab soup
International Grill -&n bsp;Gyros, italian kielbasa, philly cheese steak, corn dogs, French fries, and sodas
Sherri's Crabcakes - Crabcake sandwiches, lemonade and iced tea
Senseng Meats - BBQ Chicken; Hot dogs; French fries, and soda
Tickets for the VRE train ride can be purchased at the Manassas Train Depot, Historic Manassas Inc. Main Street office and at Whimsical Galerie on Center Street.
To view the schedule of events visit http://www.visitmanassas.org
Updated: June 22, 2011 9:14PM
The Hesston Steam Museum is a fun, interesting place to visit anytime, but this weekend offers a special reason to go — Civil War Railroad Days.
On a typical weekend, many artifacts from the museum’s diverse collection of steam-powered equipment are fired up and running, with knowledgeable and devoted volunteers available to answer questions. Most popular with visitors are the steam locomotives.
The Hesston Steam Museum has many beautifully restored and maintained full-size and scale-model engines and cars from all over the world. Visitors can take rides on three gauges of rail through the scenic grounds. Each ride covers more than a mile through the woods and past lakes, and the small trains even cross bridges and trestles.
But during Civil War Railroad Days, Union and Confederate troops, including cavalry with horses, will camp on the Hesston grounds. They will have era-specific gear and supplies — including cannons — and will demonstrate and discuss with visitors the lifestyle of that time.
Even “President Abraham Lincoln” will visit Hesston (Saturday until 3 p.m.) during this annual re-enactment. And every ride on the full-size, narrow-gauge railroad will travel past a Civil War battle.
“There were battles like this in the Civil War,” said Ted Rita, Hesston Steam Museum general manager. “Steam was a new technology at that time, and steam locomotion was one of the deciding factors in that war because with it, you could move troops faster and get supplies to the soldiers.
“... Battles like this were insignificant, but when the dust settles, you realize that though neither side gained much, real people were killed. It shows a little of the sacrifices that our forefathers made for our freedom.”
After riding the Civil War train, visitors can explore the grounds, ride the smaller-scale trains (taking a ride atop the one-eighth-scale railroad is a hoot), and explore the encampments.
“What I didn’t know when we started this five years ago was how popular the encampments would be,” Rita said. “It’s so cool to tour the camps, see how the soldiers of that time would have lived, and talk to the re-enactors. They are knowledgeable Civil War buffs who stay in character the entire weekend.
“It’s great that the Civil War re-enactors and the Hesston Steam Museum can ... share this weekend because we share missions — that is, for people to ... have a great time and to leave with a little knowledge. We hope you’ll learn a little history and gain some humility and respect for our soldiers of all eras — and have a great time.”
The Hesston Steam Museum is at 1201 E. County Road 1000N, northeast of LaPorte. To get there, take Interstate 94 to Michigan Exit 1 and go south to County Road 1000 North. From there, follow signs east to the museum grounds.
There are no parking or admission fees, including the Civil War encampments. Train ride tickets cost $5 for adults, $3 for children older than 3 and are free for those 3 and younger. Discounted four-ride tickets also are available.
Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays through Labor Day. The Hesston Steam Museum also is open for special Halloween ghost train rides and for the popular Candy Cane Express in December.
Visitors are welcome to picnic, but food is available on-site from the Whistle Stop or the Rolling Stonebaker, a beautifully restored Studebaker fire truck offering wood-fired, gourmet pizzas.
----- EH.NET BOOK REVIEW ------
Title: A Most Magnificent Machine: America Adopts the Railroad, 1825-1862
Published by EH.NET (June 2011)
Craig H. Miner,/ A Most Magnificent Machine: America Adopts the Railroad,
1825-1862/. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2010. xvi + 325
pp. $35 (hardcover), ISBN: 978-0-7006-1755-5.
Reviewed for EH.Net by Laurence J. Malone, Department of Economics, Hartwick
Do we need another book on the origins of the American railroad? The late
Craig Miner, who was Willard Garvey Distinguished Professor of Business
History at Wichita State University, confronts this question straight off in
the preface to /A Most Magnificent Machine/. His answer: “there is room
for further research addressing the interactions of railroads with the larger
society” (p. viii). Still, a well-worn subject wrapped in an advocate’s
title may not inspire many of us to explore the last of his many books.
Such prejudgment would be a mistake.
At risk of “being regarded in some circles as a casual interloper doing
literary analysis masquerading as economic history,” Miner seeks to
document the “industrial mythology” of nascent American railroads (p.
xi). And rather than lament the loss of time spent in libraries and
archives, he extols the searchable digital realm for the broader access it
offers to the moods, words, and fabric of daily life in the past. Indeed,
Miner claims to have examined 400,000 articles from 185 newspapers and more
than 3000 books and pamphlets in preparing the book.
The most impressive results derive from the retrieval of the voices of many
ordinary people. / A Most Magnificent Machine/ is a page-turner, as various
aspects of railroad adoption are explored in fourteen chapters organized by
topic. Miner is particularly adept at capturing the evolution of public
thinking regarding the introduction of the railroad in the myriad newspapers
of the early Republic. In 1835 alone, he notes, 1,265 newspapers sold some
90 million copies (p. 77).
Colliding aspirations and financial interests between promoters of the
success of canals and those touting the promise of railroads provide an
engaging opening to Chapter 1, “Baltimore Looks West.” Not only were
the groundbreaking ceremonies for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the B&O
Railroad held in Washington and Baltimore on the same day (July 4, 1828), but
their routes to the west were contested at Harper’s Ferry, where the
Potomac River ran too close to the cliffs to easily accommodate both a canal
and a railroad bed (p. 21). The chapter orients us well to the blend of
enthusiasm and tension that characterized this epic invention and the
shifting perspectives it spawned.
In fulfilling his ambitions to write a social history, Miner has collected
enough pearls to sustain the interest of scholarly readers. Chapter 5,
“Riding the Rails,” for example, is full of first-hand personal accounts
on the primitive and challenging conditions endured by early travelers.
Boorish behavior was abundant, but comfort and food at stops and onboard were
scarce. Service was unreliable, fraught with unforeseen hazards, and
subject to constant and unpredictable delays. Dependable scheduling,
etiquette, better-designed coaches, and a slate of amenities came soon
enough, and railroad stations encouraged a new form of both functional and
majestic architecture. The chapter was timely reading during a three-hour
airline delay, and I took solace in the absence of cows blocking the tarmac.
The sole new claim in the book is presented as an outcome of expanded digital
access to contemporary impressions. In the last paragraph to Chapter 8,
“The Near West,” Miner writes that “it is a myth of history textbooks
that the South tried to ignore the new technology due to some Jeffersonian
nostalgia about the primitive yeoman, or to an incompatibility of slavery
with industrialization, or to a disinclination to develop or live in
cities. It saw a way to build railroads, advance cities, and continue a
slave-based cotton economy with the new technology” (p. 155). Two pages
later, to open the chapter entitled “Southern Strategy,” Miner offers a
quote from a Mississippi newspaper editor in 1835: “We are one of the
number who cannot perceive any disadvantage resulting from running any
railroad through our state, which will increase the facilities of our
planters in getting their cotton to market at the cheapest rate” (p.
157). But such evidence offered here and elsewhere to support the
myth-busting effort is too anecdotal, and well-grounded work on empirical
measurements for levels of railroad investment and total railroad mileage
between antebellum regions is ignored.
Other chapters serve us better in capturing the dramatic social changes
brought about by the railroad. There are rich discussions on greater
acceptance of credit and debt, lurid details of violent accidents on a
massive scale, and the threat to “American nativist optimism” posed by
the recurrence of a second major Panic just twenty years after the first (p.
Readers will find little in /A Most Magnificent Machine/ to alter their
generalized understanding of the railroad and its consequences for the
antebellum American economy. Discoveries and rewards instead abound in the
voices gathered up by Miner to illustrate the “interaction of technology
and public opinion” from an “extensive discourse carried out through the
media for many years” (p. 261).
Laurence J. Malone (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Professor of Economics at
Hartwick College. He is the author of /Opening the West: Federal Internal
Improvements before 1860/.
Copyright (c) 2011 by EH.Net. All rights reserved. This work may be copied
for non-profit educational uses if proper credit is given to the author and
the list. For other permission, please contact the EH.Net Administrator
(email@example.com). Published by EH.Net (June 2011). All EH.Net reviews
are archived at http://www.eh.net/BookReview.
Geographic Location: North America
Subject: Transport and Distribution, Energy, and Other Services
Time: 19th Century
Mississippi town is touting its Civil War heritage
BY MARY ANN ANDERSON
MCCLATCHY-TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
CORINTH, Miss. - Standing on the crossties at the intersection where the Memphis & Charleston Railroad and the Mobile & Ohio Railroad meet in Corinth, I shiver in the morning sun. But not from the chilly, breezy spring air, but more so from a sense of history, for where the rail lines make a perfect "X" is perhaps the most important 16 square feet of land during the Civil War.
That crossing was vital to both the North and South, as Memphis & Charleston was the Confederacy's only east-west rail link. Now in the shadows of the Crossroads Museum, which once served as Corinth's railroad depot, it is one of the most visited spots in this town of about 15,000.
"Corinth is a railroad town," says Kristy White, executive director of the Corinth Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Its railroad crossings brought the conflict home during the Civil War, and those same railroads were a source of prosperity only a few years after the end of the war and are still today."
Corinth, in the northeast corner of Mississippi where it intersects with Alabama and Tennessee, is one of those small but historically significant towns that, in the 150th anniversary year since the beginning of the Civil War, you may not have heard of but is worth a visit.
Places like Corinth, founded in 1854, have become more sign ificant and prominent as interest in Civil War tourism rises much like the South did after Reconstruction.
To get a sense of Corinth, first stop in at the Crossroads Museum, stand on those tracks - make sure a train isn't coming first - and then see the relics and artifacts that help tell the story of Corinth's role in the Civil War all the way through the Civil Rights era to now. As museums go, this one is fun and colorful and it's clear that lots of thought was given to its design.
A few blocks over, the Civil War Interpretive Center, a unit of nearby Shiloh National Military Park, is a real masterpiece in retelling the stories of the Battle of Shiloh and the Siege and Battle of Corinth in 1862. A great time to visit may be spring of 2012, when re-enactors in full uniform plan to march the 20-plus miles from Corinth to Shiloh just over the state line in Tennessee.
Almost 24,000 lives were lost in two days of fearsome battles near Shiloh Church in April 1862. That's so hard to imagine today because the park, whose name means "place of peace," is one of the most beautiful and serene Civil War sites I've ever visited.
The rich, fertile farmlands around Corinth also have more remaining earthworks than any other place of the Civil War. As I wandered the Beauregard Line, one of the finest examples of earthworks anywhere, I was thrilled to see a quicksilver-fast bobcat, perhaps the most elusive and skittish of all Southern wildlife.
Despite the battles and protective earthworks, Union forces eventually took over Corinth. When escaped slaves heard the news, they made a beeline for the town. A contraband camp was set up, where as many as six thousand former slaves lived from 1862 until 1863. A small portion of the site is open to the public and contains life-size bronze sculptures depicting life in the camp.
From there, a 40-home historic architectural walking tour of Corinth takes you past both Mississippi Historic Landmarks and National Historic Landmarks like the Verandah-Curlee H ouse Museum. Built in 1857, it became the headquarters for a number of Confederate and Union generals, depending on who was winning the war at any given time.
Now to more good stuff:
You can't talk South without talking food. If you don't eat another thing while you're in Corinth, try a Slugburger at Borroum's Drugstore, a combination drug store, soda fountain and sandwich shop built in 1865.
A Slugburger is not made of slugs - eewww! - but is a deep-fried pork-ish patty slung on a bun with mustard pickle, and onion. During the Depression, Borroum's developed the cheap version of a hamburger and sold it for a nickel, which is sometimes called a slug, so the faux burgers then became known as Slugburgers
A good rule of thumb in the South is that when the parking lot is full, you just know the food will be belt-busting. That was the case at every place we ate in Corinth, but keep the statins handy, because it's all about biscuits, bacon and grits at Abe's Grill (the guy sitting next to you is probably Corinth's mayor, who drops in regularly), a place that was once voted as the best place in Mississippi to ruin your diet.
Borroum's sandwiches and salads pair well with the Slugburger, while the Shrimp Boat, with its fresh seafood, got our vote for dinner for fried shrimp. So did the cozy Pizza Grocery. Yep. It's a restaurant, not a grocery store, and the Italian dishes are a nice respite from fried foods.
After you've eaten, take in Pickin' on the Square, a weekly free bluegrass event that occurs every Thursday year 'round. Corinth even has a symphony orchestra and little theater. And depending on when you visit, take in one of more than a dozen festivals like the Crossroads Festival and Chili Cook-Off, the Slugburger Festival, or Hog Wild Barbecue Cooking Festival.
Scads of boutiques, galleries and antique places draw shoppers from across the Southeast. It's said Corinth is where Memphis shops, with fun places like the Corinth Artist Guild Gallery that features local artwork and Franklin Cruise with its eclectic collection of furniture and gifts.
Only a one- to three-hour drive from its big-city cousins of Nashville, Memphis and Birmingham, Corinth is the true small-town South.
IF YOU GO:
Contact the Corinth Area Convention & Visitors Bureau at http://www.Corinth.net or (800) 748-9048.
Corinth has name-brand hotels, including the full-service Holiday Inn, as well as RV parks and guestrooms at the Generals Quarters Bed & Breakfast and Franklin Cruise Luxury Suites.
Noted Civil War author Dan Toomey will present a free lecture and slide show, “The War Came by Train,” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11, in the Hagerstown Railroad Museum at City Park.
Toomey is the guest curator at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum for its five-year 150th Civil War anniversary commemoration.
On Thursday, Toomey will talk about how the first front of the war was neither a political nor a geographical boundary, but the main line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Toomey will also discuss other railroads in the area, including Western Maryland Railroad, at the time of the Gettysburg Campaign.
The Hagerstown Railroad Museum is located at 525 Highland Way, across from the Mansion House Art Center. For more information, call (301) 739-8393 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Daniel Toomey traveled to Hagerstown Thursday night to tell a gathering of Civil War enthusiasts that the first front of the war was neither a political nor a geographical boundary, but the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
Toomey's talk at the Hagerstown Railroad Museum covered the first 90 days of the war, which included Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's capture of 56 locomotives and more than 300 railcars along the B&O Railroad between nearby Harpers Ferry, W.Va. and Martinsburg, W.Va.
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Jackson also blew up a railroad bridge at Harpers Ferry in an attempt to stop B&O rail traffic, Toomey said.
"They really ripped the guts out of the B&O railroad between Harpers Ferry and Martinsburg," Toomey told a standing-room-only crowd of more than 50 people who streamed out the door of the museum at Hagerstown City Park.
The first land skirmish of the Civil War came when a Union regiment from Massachusetts arrived in Baltimore in April 1861 by rail, Toomey said.
Maryland was undecided whether to side with the Union or the Confederacy, and there were many Confederate supporters in Baltimore, said Toomey, who has written several books about the war and whose course, "The Civil War in Maryland," has been taught at a number of colleges.
When the Massachusetts soldiers arrived in Baltimore they were met by an angry mob. By the time the confrontation had subsided, four members of the Massachusetts unit lay dead and 36 were injured, Toomey said.
The Massachusetts regiment then left Baltimore by the B&O Railroad, Toomey said.
The B&O continued to be a part of the war's history up until the end when troops used the railroad to return home, Toomey said.
He also talked about the success of the B&O, and how it was considered to be the first commercial railroad in the world.
"It was like the Microsoft of the day. Everybody wanted to invest in it," Toomey said of the railroad, the purpose of which was to connect the docks of Baltimore with the Ohio River.
Toomey is the guest curator at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore for the 150th Civil War anniversary commemoration.
Toomey has lectured for a number of historical organizations as well as the National Park Service and the Smithsonian Institution.
He has won numerous awards for his historical research and exhibits, including the Gettysburg National Battlefield Award in 1985.
His books include "The Civil War in Maryland," "Marylanders at Gettysburg" and "The Maryland Line Confederate Soldiers' Home."
DELMAR, Iowa - Walking into the Delmar Depot Railroad Museum is like taking a step back into history.
Located in this small town about 35 miles north of the Quad-Cities and built in the 1870s, the original depot was an integral part of the community's origin, and the restored depot continues to be a popular attraction.
The doors had closed at the Delmar Depot after the last freight train ended its journey there in 1982. Tom Reddin, now retired, was the engineer on that final train. Now, he and longtime friend Dick Noonan are responsible for helping to reopen the doors of the depot nearly 30 years later as a museum.
"I was the last engineer off this line," Reddin says. "As a matter of fact, we ‘died' right here in Delmar." Over the years, he has collected historical artifacts, railroad memorabilia and miniature trains that all are housed in the depot.
The city of Delmar and several citizens have been working on restoring the old depot since 1995. In May 1997, the structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The floor plan of the original depot is considered unique to the Midwest region because it was built with separate waiting rooms for men and women, connected by the ticket and office area. Such depots were more commonly found in the eastern United States.
The museum has well over 1,500 historical items, including military memorabilia and original telegraph equipment. But the majority of the space is dedicated to the history of the railroad, with hundreds of donated miniature trains, photographs, historical maps and other rail documents. Many of the furnishings are original to the depot. Visitors can even learn about the Orphan Train, which ran through Delmar and brought several thousand orphaned children to Iowa.
Everywhere one turns in the museum is an interesting story brought back to life via the items on display.
"We hope to get some school groups interested in taking field trips here. Anyone can give us a call and we will be happy to show them around," Noonan said.
Reddin and Noonan have spent the better part of the past six months preparing for the opening of the museum, but their love of history dates to their school days in Cascade, Iowa.
"Our old school used to be called ‘Chew Mansion.' During the Civil War, a spy hid out in the attic," Noonan says. Their former school was destroyed in the 1960s in order to build a new grade school. The two friends were saddened that the old structure could not be saved and point to that as a time when they both became interested in history.
The museum operates as a nonprofit organization and relies heavily on donations and fundraisers to keep the doors open. A Civil War reenactment this weekend will be the museum's largest fundraiser to date and promises to bring alive the history of the War Between the States. Helping organize the event is Robert Even, a member of the Dubuque Area Civil War Reenactors.
"We have 150-200 reenactors coming from all over for this event," he said.
Throughout the Saturday and Sunday activities, reenactors will be living, dressing and camping the way they would have during the 1861-65 war.
"There will be a ladies tea, a fashion show and battles going on throughout it all," Even added.
Battles will be staged at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., with much more to see and do throughout both days, including a Civil War-style medical tent.
150 YEARS AGO: Sturgis ordered to protect railroad
By RUDI KELLER
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
ST. CHARLES — The bridges and track of the North Missouri Railroad were torn up and Missouri State Guard Col. Martin Green was likely headed to Mexico, Mo., to do more damage, Brig. Gen. Samuel Sturgis reported to headquarters.
Sturgis had been ordered to move to protect the railroad, which connected St. Louis, via Mexico, Centralia and Sturgeon, to Macon and the Hannibal-St. Joseph Railroad.
There was trouble on the Hannibal-St. Joseph Railroad as well. Green’s men had cut that railroad three days earlier when it defeated a federal force at Shelbina that was forced to retreat to the west.
When he arrived at St. Charles about 1 p.m., Sturgis was told that an engine sent the previous evening to retrieve cars 90 miles up the railroad had not returned. And the daily freight train expected at 4 p.m. had not arrived, Sturgis wrote in a dispatch at 9 p.m.
The railroad agent at St. Charles told Sturgis that secessionists had been expecting his force for three days. If the delays on the railroad were a normal accident, Sturgis noted, a hand car would have been used to bring the news back.
Sturgis reported that he would send two regiments, about 2,000 men, up the road at daylight and he would “order them to take a position at the most advanced bridge and hold it until we can get the cavalry and artillery up.”
On the Hannibal-St. Joseph Railroad, Brig. Gen. John Pope also was chasing Green. He reported to Maj. Gen. John Fremont that he had reopened the railroad, relieving the pressure on forces that lost Shelbina. Pope was at Hunnewell, between Monroe City and Shelbina.
Pope wrote that he intended to start out after Green with 1,600 men and four pieces of artillery, leaving 1,500 men to guard the railroad.
Green’s force was estimated in various reports between 1,000 and 3,000 men.
SPRINGFIELD — Fugitive Gov. Claiborne Fox Jackson arrived to rejoin the victorious Missouri State Guard days after Maj. Gen. Sterling Price sent his troops north and west to clear out Union and Home Guard soldiers.
Jackson recruited a large force of mounted men and started out after Price. U.S. Sen. James Lane, commander of the Kansas Brigade at Fort Lincoln, Kan., had reported to Fort Leavenworth that Price’s army was continuing its northward march and Lexington appeared to be the goal, Capt. W.E. Prince wrote in a dispatch to Fremont.
Prince asked for an expedition to be mounted from Jefferson City to move in conjunction with Lane’s column, which would move into Missouri from the west, to cut off Price’s advance.
Lane, in describing his move, told Prince that because of a lack of artillery, the best he could do was get behind Price's army and “to threaten their rear and confuse them.”
September 7, 2011, 9:30 PM
The Iron Horse at War
By CHRISTIAN WOLMAR
Among many other things, the Civil War marked the first significant use of the railroad as a military tool. Between the opening of the first European and American railroads in 1830 and the outbreak of the war in 1861, there had been a few short wars in which railways had played a supporting role in moving troops and supplying armies with ammunition. Never before, however, did it play such a central role in the strategic and tactical planning of both sides.
Troop and supply movement over hundreds of miles was now a question of hours or days, not weeks. Most of the major battles during Civil War were fought around key railway centers, including Chattanooga, Atlanta and Nashville. The location of many other battles was determined by their proximity to a railway line. And the railroads themselves became significant targets, as lines were torn up and destroyed by both sides to restrict their enemy’s mobility, only to be rebuilt at great pace and with enormous skill once local territorial dominance had been achieved.
The two sides started with very different railway networks. By 1861, just three decades since the opening of the country’s first railway, the Baltimore & Ohio, America had 30,000 miles of rail. Roughly two-thirds of it were in the North, leaving just 9,000 miles in what became the Confederacy. Moreover, the Northern lines were far better developed, with more advanced and reliable locomotives, rolling stock and track. Most of the South’s railroads were local, ramshackle affairs that did not cross state boundaries; co-ordinating the system was made more difficult by differences in gauge. This superiority of the North’s railroads would prove crucial in helping the Yankee victory.
Library of Congress
Herman Haupt, the North’s railway wizard
The North was also quicker to realize the importance of controlling the railroads, which at the time were all in private hands. Congress federalized all railroads in January 1862 and appointed an experienced railwayman, Daniel McCallum, as military director and superintendent of the railways with total power over them.
By contrast, in the South, the different railroad companies, having promised full co-operation and support for the war, soon started to squabble with the government over payments for the carriage of soldiers and prioritization of military convoys. The administration of Jefferson Davis never managed to impose itself on the railroad companies, partly because of the power of the states relative to the government in Richmond, informed by the ideology which had led them to break away in the first place. Although the Southern government created a Railroad Bureau, it was never able to exert the same power as McCallum over the frequently obstructionist railways, which were often more interested in short-term profit than the long-term prospect of military victory.
Nevertheless, the South scored a notable early military triumph: at the First Battle of Bull Run, the turning point came when the Confederates, who seemed near the brink of defeat, managed to use the local Manassas Gap railroad to quickly bring in reinforcements from the northwest and launch a successful counter attack.
The South followed up its success at Bull Run with several other rail-based victories. But the battle, and in particular the use of rail, had shocked the North out of its complacency. Ironically, it was the North that seemed to take the lessons of Bull Run to heart and to develop more refined tactics. The first step was to appoint Herman Haupt, a famed veteran rail engineer, as McCallum’s deputy. Haupt quickly became known as “the war’s wizard of railroading” for his skill in building and destroying railways with great speed, and at making best use of their capability. His most famous exploit was to rebuild a 400-foot bridge over the Potomac, destroyed by the Confederates, in just nine days using locally sourced wood and a largely unskilled workforce. After inspecting the achievement, President Lincoln said, “I have seen the most remarkable structure that human eyes ever rested upon.”
Library of Congress
The Potomac Creek Bridge, which Union engineers rebuilt in less than nine days
More important was Haupt’s role as a tactician. He devised simple rules for using the railway in war, insisting, for example, that all wagons be emptied as quickly as possible and removed from the railhead so that they did not clog the unloading station and could be readily reused. It was a simple rule but one which the army, focussed on purely military objectives, was wont to forget. Indeed, Haupt’s most fundamental rule was that railway personnel should be in charge of train movements, deciding on the timetable, rather than military officers, who would not understand the workings and limitations of the railway. Railways needed military discipline, but not the discipline of the military. In future wars, many generals paid a heavy price for ignoring these simple rules.
The war ended with General Sherman’s great sweep south, and here too the railways were crucial. His army was supplied entirely by a single railway route, a combination of three lines stretching almost 500 miles from Louisville to Atlanta. Ever meticulous, in his memoirs Sherman paid tribute to this logistical miracle: “That single stem of railroad supplied an army of 100,000 men and 32,000 horses for the period of 196 days between May 1 and November 19 1864.” To have delivered these supplies by road would have required 36,800 wagons, each with six mules — a logistical impossibility. Interestingly, once he had destroyed Atlanta and headed east, Sherman destroyed the railways behind him to ensure that the Confederates could not use it to pursue him.
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Indeed, the length of the war, the number of battles — 400, or more than one every four days — and the breadth of the conflict, over an area the size of Western Europe, were all the result of the ability of the railways to supply troops with both food and ammunition in an unprecedented way. The very bloodiness and intensity of the Civil War was a result of the invention of the railroad. Before the railways, battles were over in a day or so because of the inability to keep armies and their horses supplied by road. Now, battles could continue, in theory, indefinitely. A new way of war, borne by the iron horse, had arrived.
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Christian Wolmar is the author of “Engines of War: How Wars Were Won and Lost on the Railways.”
Civil War anniversary: Clisby Austin and Tunnel Hill
By Marvin Sowder Dalton-Whitfield Civil War 150th Commemoration CommitteeDalton Daily Citizen
In 1848, several important events took place in Northwest Georgia. The new town of Dalton was chartered and the Western & Atlantic Railroad tracks were completed as far as Dalton.
Work began on a railroad tunnel through Chetoogeta Mountain and a small village sprang up at the western end of the proposed project. Work crews and supporting infrastructure including mechanics, merchants, blacksmiths, tavern keepers and railroad bosses all moved in.
Later that year, the little village was incorporated as Tunnelsville, and remained so for the next eight years. During this era of change and development the 46-year-old Rev. Clisby Austin, a farmer and business man from east Tennessee, appeared on the scene.
Who was Clisby Austin? He was born in Morristown, Tenn., the son of Archibald and Rebecca Austin, in January, 1802.
Twenty years later he married Sarah Robertson and moved to Hawkins County, Tennessee. Sarah died in 1842, leaving 12 children behind.
In a few months, Austin married Jane Ann Hammond, and they moved to Murray County, which included the land which is now Whitfield County. He purchased 160 acres and established himself as a farmer. By 1850, Austin opened a store in Tunnelsville and his 18-year-old son, James C. Austin, clerked there. In May of 1850 the first train passed through the tunnel and the town was on the move. The new county of Whitfield was created and Dalton became the county seat. By this time, Tunnelsville had added a new depot, hotel, several mercantile stores and a school, and in 1856 it was chartered as Tunnel Hill. Austin now owned 320 acres and a nice new two-story brick home he called “Meadowlawn.” It is still standing today and known as the Austin House.
In the summer, people from the coast of Georgia known as “low landers” would visit Tunnel Hill and stay for weeks at a time, often at the Austin House. A boardwalk ran from the depot platform to the steps of the Austin House for easy access.
Austin also served as postmaster for a while. In a letter to his daughter he wrote, “ I surely am the best situated that I ever was in my life. I feel thankful to the Good Lord. I see nothing on earth as yet to make me think I shall ever move from this place.” Austin added, “We have a splendid Sunday School of over one hundred scholars.”
In 1858, the Tunnel Hill Methodist Church was organized and a two-story brick building was erected with funds supplied by the Rev. Clisby Austin. The Tunnel Hill Masonic Lodge No. 202 occupied the second floor.
The hotel he built was run by his daughter and son-in-law, Rebecca and George Lacy. In 1860 he had three sons at home, Frederick, 14; Clisby Jr.13; and Henry 11. He hoped that Frederick would run his store when he became of age. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Austin’s desire to remain in the Union was well known in the community. He had prospered in the South, however, and owned two adult couples as slaves and their two children. His son James C. was a member of the Tunnel Guards and he had seven sons-in-law serving the South.
Austin witnessed the chase of the General as it rushed by his home in April of 1862. Soon thereafter at his hotel, he boarded five men of Company A 9th Georgia Battalion for eight days while they guarded the railroad tunnel. On July 13, 1862, Austin sold his farm and all his holdings in Tunnel Hill and began the process of moving back to Hawkins County, Tennessee, leaving his older children and grand-children behind.
Why did Austin feel compelled to leave Tunnel Hill soon after the Andrews Raid? Could it have been to remove his three young sons out of harm’s way? In the May 2, 1861, session of Whitfield County Superior Court, the grand jury entered a true bill of the State v. Clisby Austin on a charge of assault and battery. This charge was so out of character for Clisby Austin.
Perhaps a threat was made against his home or family which could have provoked him to such an end? For whatever reason, Austin left Tunnel Hill in the summer of 1862 and never returned.
There are records from east Tennessee where C. Austin supplied bacon and flour to the Confederate Commissary Department and thousands of wooden shoe pegs to the Quarter Master Department from September 1863 through June of 1864.
From the business district to the Methodist Church to the Masonic Hall to the Clisby Austin House, his legacy lives on today in Tunnel Hill, Ga.
First came the river, then the railroad.
The rail line from Bristol to Chattanooga changed the life and landscape of East Tennessee like nothing save the coming of the Tennessee Valley Authority nearly a century later. Soldiers, civilians and spies clashed along those rails for four bloody years as Confederate and Union forces alike sought control of the region's main transportation artery.
"It was really a critical way to move troops and goods in a hurry," said Steve Cotham, director of the McClung Historical Collection. "The strategy that developed early on was to take control of the railroad."
PHOTO BY GEORGE BARNARD
East Tennessee History Center A view of the Strawberry Plains bridge taken after Confederate Gen. James Longstreet's withdrawal from Knoxville on December 3, 1863. The photo was included with a report of the chief engineer of Union Gen. Ambrose Burnside's army, April 11, 1864. Troops from one side or another guarded the rails from the time of the bridge burners incident for the rest of the war.
The last line of track had been laid just three years before war broke out. The East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad ran north from Knoxville to Bristol, the East Tennessee & Georgia line south from Knoxville to Chattanooga and Dalton, Ga.
The two lines offered the most direct route between the eastern and western halves of the Confederacy, opened up markets for area farmers and shortened journeys that once took days or weeks down to hours. The rough, poorly maintained roads and choppy river waters made the rails a natural choice for travelers and merchants alike.
The war began with trains ferrying Confederate troops by the thousands — some local and others from farther south — between Georgia and Virginia. The railcars also carried local Unionists to prison camps in Alabama.
Parson William Gannaway Brownlow, the region's most ardent Unionist, condemned the rails in the pages of the Knoxville Journal as an aid to evil.
"Let the railroad on which Union citizens of East Tennessee are conveyed to Montgomery (Ala.) in irons be eternally and hopelessly destroyed!" he wrote in May 1861. "Let the fires of patriotic vengeance be built upon the Union altars of the whole land."
The parson's prayers got their answer when Unionists burned five of the nine bridges on the railroad in November 1861, even though the Union Army failed to answer the bridge-burners' prayer for aid. Troops from one side or another would stand guard along the rails for the rest of the war.
The lines served as a supply route, carrying salt pork, cornmeal, coffee, gunpowder and soldiers back and forth between the Confederacy's east and west until the arrival of Union forces. Troops in blue used the rails as the gateway to smash through to Chattanooga, Atlanta and the heart of the South.
After the fighting ended, the rails remained to carry men home — and provide echoes of the past into the present.
The Conspiracy at Lick Creek
By AARON ASTOR
Disunion follows the Civil War as it unfolded.
SABOTAGE, TENNESSEE, THE CIVIL WAR
As the forests surrounding the Great Smoky Mountains passed their autumnal peak foliage in early November 1861, a group of potters and farmers gathered at the Greene County, Tenn. home of Jacob and Henry Harmon. There the brothers, joined by Christopher Haun, Henry Fry and Jacob Hinshaw, finalized their plot to destroy the nearby Lick Creek railroad bridge on Nov. 8. This was no local conspiracy, however. More than 100 fellow East Tennessee Unionists plotted to simultaneously burn eight other railroad bridges as far away as northeast Alabama, effectively severing all rail and telegraph connection between Virginia and the heartland of the Confederacy.
The Lick Creek bridge would go up in flames that night, as would two bridges over Chickamauga Creek near Chattanooga, a bridge over the Hiwassee River near the town of Charleston, and a bridge traversing the Holston River in the northeastern corner of the state, set alight by a crew led by Senator Andrew Johnson’s son-in-law. But four of the targeted bridges survived the night, including a long trestle near Strawberry Plains defended by a single, fearless guardsman. Nevertheless, the bridge-burning conspiracy of November 1861, one of the greatest guerrilla plots of the Civil War, could have been even larger had the promised Union support come through.
Library of Congress
An illustration from Harper’s Weekly, showing a group of East Tennessee Unionists giving a pledge of allegiance. CLICK TO ENLARGE
The bridge attacks were the brainchild of a longtime Carter County, Tenn. resident, the Rev. William Blount Carter, in conjunction with his brother, Union Gen. Samuel P. Carter. Mr. Carter had traveled to Washington earlier in the year, where in a meeting at the White House with Gen. George B. McClellan and President Lincoln, he secured Union political and military support. By October, he was recruiting Unionists to fan out as far south as Bridgeport, Ala. and build their own sabotage teams from local networks of Union supporters.
The audacity of the plan was matched only by its simplicity – firing the bridges, rendering more than 200 miles of railroad useless, should have been no match for a committed band of saboteurs. The two vulnerable railroads converging on Knoxville – the East Tennessee & Virginia and the East Tennessee & Georgia – served as the only reliable and efficient transportation and communication link between Richmond and the Deep South; the alternative coastal route relied on numerous portage crossings, gauge changes and more than a dozen poorly connected railroad companies.
A federal army in Kentucky stood ready to invade the region, exploiting the confusion brought by such infrastructural chaos along the Confederacy’s critical rail link through East Tennessee. To top it off, the population of East Tennessee had earned its well-deserved reputation for loyalty to the Union – or traitorous “Toryism” as the Confederacy termed it – during a June 8 referendum, when East Tennessee voters summarily rejected secession. The Achilles’ heel of the Confederacy lay in East Tennessee, home of the mountaineer rebels for the Union. How could the plan possibly fail?
But fail it did.
The conspiracy went awry almost immediately after the night of Nov. 8. At Lick Creek, the conspirators let the captured guards go free after they took the oath of allegiance to the Union. It was a fatefully naïve move; the guards immediately notified Confederate authorities. Even worse, during the attack on the bridge one of the guerrillas had casually mentioned “Jacob Harmon’s gun” in front of the guards; he dutifully passed that piece of intelligence along. A few days later Confederate investigators went to the home of the ringleaders and arrested many of the participants (though some escaped to Kentucky). Elsewhere the plotters got cold feet or, as in the case of Strawberry Plains, lost their matches after a shootout with the lone bridge guard.
But the real failure came with a last-minute decision by General William T. Sherman to call off the federal invasion from Kentucky (one of his last orders before being temporarily removed from duty), too late to get word to the conspirators. Instead of a western Virginia-style invasion – where General McClellan had secured the pro-Union mountain region bordering the Ohio River, setting the stage for the creation of the state of West Virginia – Sherman simply allowed the East Tennessee Unionists to wither in the air. The Harmons and Mr. Haun would be hanged at the Knoxville jail, while Henry Fry and Jacob Hinshaw met their fate at the end of a rope in nearby Greeneville.
The Confederate crackdown on the upstart region was fierce. Secretary of State Judah Benjamin sent Col. Danville Ledbetter to identify, jail and hang as many participants in the bridge-burning scheme as he could find, and then rebuild the bridges. Many of the prisoners were sent on a long, circuitous route to the Confederate prison at Tuscaloosa, Ala. Before reaching their final destination, the prisoners walked a gantlet of local Confederate supporters shouting “traitor” and threatening to lynch the bridge burners.
Moreover, Gen. Felix Zollicoffer, the commander of military affairs in East Tennessee who had practiced a lenient policy toward East Tennessee Unionists up to this point, declared martial law. The most outspoken Unionists in the region, including the cantankerous William “Parson” Brownlow, were forced to flee to Kentucky or other points farther North.
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For nearly two years afterward, East Tennessee would remain under Confederate military control, with guerrilla and counterinsurgent activity making life miserable for the majority of the people in the region. It would not be until Sept. 1, 1863, that the Union Army would finally arrive in East Tennessee, far too late to exploit the mayhem generated by the bridge burners.
Why did Sherman call off the invasion? Some of his resistance may have been strategic, as a river-based invasion of pro-Confederate Middle and West Tennessee was already under discussion and would prove more beneficial than a Pyrrhic assault into the mountains of East Tennessee. Publicly, he said he believed that the Confederate army was simply too strong – even in East Tennessee – to simply bypass at the Cumberland Gap en route to the region. This would be no easy march into – and out of – East Tennessee, Sherman feared, and supplying the federal troops would be equally difficult. Whatever his reasons, Sherman was judged to be virtually insane and was removed to Missouri for his failure of nerve at this vital hour.
But there may have been an ideological component to Sherman’s decision as well: he distrusted Southern Unionists, and East Tennesseans in particular. Though Sherman himself was no radical, his total-war approach to the South was embraced by Radical Republicans who doubted the utility of relying on white Southern Unionists to undermine the Confederacy from within. Whereas East Tennessee Unionists like Andrew Johnson and Horace Maynard had the president’s ear and reinforced his belief that the entire Confederate project was a mere conspiracy of cotton planters and not a broadly supported effort to create a new nation, Sherman and the Radicals insisted that a thoroughgoing campaign to destroy the economic and social life of the South was necessary to win the war and remake it into a model of free labor and free soil.
The decision to abandon the East Tennessee uprising may have ultimately made strategic sense. But it resulted in heartbreak and bloodshed for loyal mountaineers desperate for redemption from a Confederacy they had summarily rejected. It brought hardship, guerrilla war and the resulting destruction of homesteads, families and communities – many of which never recovered. And it nearly destroyed the reputation of William T. Sherman himself.
Pulitzer-winning history writer Tony Horwitz delves into Harpers Ferry raid that sparked Civil War
Published: Sunday, November 27, 2011, 8:00 AM Updated: Sunday, November 27, 2011, 11:56 AM
By Michael Scott, The Plain Dealer
This undated file photo shows John Brown's Fort, a fire engine house located at the entrance of the Armory Grounds at Harpers Ferry, W. Va. Brown, an abolitionist who hoped to start a general slave revolt. Brown and his followers used the fire engine and guard house as their fort when they raided the U.S. arsenal on Oct. 16, 1859. Brown was captured by Colonel Robert E. Lee, put on trial for treason, sentenced to death and executed in December 1859.
NONFICTION: "Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War"
By Tony Horwitz
Henry Holt, 290 pp., $29
You don’t have to work too hard to imagine a prototype of social media in the panicked and chaotic early-morning hours following a historic, (and eventually failed) raid on a Virginia federal building.
Brief, but fearsome, reports of the bloody attack spread rapidly when its leader, a religious fundamentalist, inexplicably allowed a passenger train to turn around and head back home.
“The terrified train passengers carried these wild rumors east on Monday morning, flinging notes out the train windows to alert residents of the Maryland countryside,” recounts Tony Horwitz. By the time the train reached Baltimore, a “throng had gathered at the station,” including journalists who then began covering in earnest the biggest story of their lifetimes.”
#harpersferry, anyone? @johnbrown?
Make no mistake, the infamous October 1859 raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry by John Brown and his 18 men was the stone that began the avalanche that became the Civil War, argues Horwitz in “Midnight Rising.” (That's hardly a new thought, of course, something historian Fergus Bordewich refers to asM the "underground railroad, only larger," in a Smithsonian online video).
Some of us might know the opening lines to the song (a tune that eventually became “The Battle Hymn of the Republic): “John Brown’s body lies a mouldering in the grave; His soul’s marching on!” Few of us, however are likely know much more about the one soul who likely had more to do with provoking Civil War and ending slavery than any other.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Horwitz won acclaim in 1998 for “Confederates in the Attic.“ He returns to the Civil War for his sixth book: a readable and probing look at the polarizing figure of preacher-terrorist John Brown. You can hear Horwitz read a portion of his book on his website.
Here are some headlines dispatched from Baltimore after the arrival of the train:
“INSURRECTION AT HARPER’S FERRY”
“EXTENSIVE NEGRO CONSPIRACY IN VIRGINIA AND MARYLAND”
“GENERAL STAMPEDE OF SLAVES”
While those accounts exaggerated, millions of readers hung on every dispatch. They conformed to what Brown had actually hoped to accomplish: An overthrow of the “peculiar institution” of slavery and the rescue of hundreds of thousands of slaves, whom he believed would fight on their own behalf.
In captivating detail, Horwitz animates the wild-eyed, long-bearded crusader: Brown slings fundamentalist scriptures in his anti-Slavery effort (“their feet shall slide in due time,” Deuteronomy) and compares himself to Old Testament leaders like Moses and warriors like Samson.
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Brown's doings in Northeast Ohio have been well documented. The passages concerning his activities in Akron, Cleveland, Hudson and Oberlin fascinate. Horwitz characterized mid-19th century northeast Ohio as a “staunchly abolitionist area which also served as a hideout and muster station for many of Brown’s scattered men.”
On these pages, Brown seems at once the conflicted lead actor and manic director — a player who could drift from focused and organized to confused and incompetent, but who always polarizes; a director once meticulous, then maniacal, but, in the end, effective.
For example, though Brown had long devised a multi-faceted plan, Frederick Douglas twice tried to convince him that it would not work, his grand idea to move slaves out of the deep south (code word “Africa” in his writings).
The raid itself was clumsy, ending in three days with 10 raiders dead and seven more captured by Marines, who were led in part by Col. Robert E. Lee.
But the impact reverberated, carried in gossip and headlines and fear, into the homes of an increasingly fearful South and a slowly awakening North.
In fact, Brown’s terrorist attack on the armory and subsequent trial was also “one of the first breaking news stories” of the rapidly developing nation, as millions of readers hung on every dispatch.
And his eventual hanging, preceded by a full month of newspaper interviews, courtroom speeches by Brown and correspondence (his final letter was to a Hudson woman), only served to further illustrate the North-South dichotomy.
Increasingly, however, (after initial criticism of the raid as foolish and futile; William Lloyd Garrison opined that Brown was “Wild and apparently insane”), Brown was revered in the North.
One Scottish journalist portrayed Brown in East Coast newspapers as a selfless freedom fighter, remarking that he has just “seen the predestined leader of the second and holier American Revolution.”
Whether Horwitz’ book leaves you believing Brown was a terrorist or hero (or both), he was ultimately prophetic, writing on the day of his Dec. 2, 1859, execution: “I John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty, land: will never be purged away; but with Blood. I had as I now think: vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed; it might be done.”
Future Pennsylvania Steam
A replica of a Civil War era steam locomotive being built in Illinois is scheduled to roll into York County in 2013. President Abraham Lincoln traveled on a train through York County to deliver the Gettysburg Address. Two years from now, tourists will be able to ride a replica Civil War era train to learn about York County's role in the war, travel the historic line that once connectedBaltimore and Harrisburg, and enjoy the countryside.
York #17 is a $2 million steam locomotive being built by hand by Mr. Dave Kloke, owner of Kloke Locomotive Works in Elgin, Illinois. It took him nine years to complete his first engine, the Leviathan #63. Construction of the oil burning York #17 began in 2010. It will appear similar to Leviathan with a few exceptions. (Thanks to Paul Kuehnel, Teresa Ann Boeckel, York Daily Record via John Biehn)