The Western 4 Atlantic R R

Will pay the bearer F J F T Y CENTS mrr mt Ban c Notes, whenever the sum of jwe dollars or upwards in these bills is presented. A 50-cent note issued by the state-owned and -operated Western amp Atlantic Railroad based in Atlanta, GA. Many banks and large capital-holding companies such as the railroads, as well as a few cities and counties, issued their own currency notes. On both these and the currency issued by individual Southern states trains were a common motif, since they symbolized...

Introduction

Military Railroad

The American Civil War is widely regarded as the world's first major railroad war. Railroads moved troops over hundreds of miles, and served as vital lifelines to armies in the field. Major battles were fought for control of crucial Southern rail centers such as Chattanooga, Atlanta, Richmond and neighboring Petersburg. Although the vast logistical role played by railroads has received much attention from historians, their tactical capacity has been comparatively overlooked. At the outbreak of...

Water And Wood

A locomotive could not run without water, but in many cases the train crews could not depend on the availability of watering stations equipped with large wooden tanks everything that could keep a train running was targeted for destruction by the enemy, including watering and fueling stations. Some historians have painted a rather condescending picture of Confederate train crews who had to refill their tenders using buckets of water pulled from nearby streams, but Southern carriers certainly...

The Telegraph

George Ellsworth Lightning

A Union telegraph lineman at work the job of repairing fallen or cut lines was often dangerous, since if it was attempted within sight of the enemy it attracted sharpshooters. Although the figures are not precise, it is estimated that the telegraph employees working in the field suffered about the same casualty rate as front-line combat soldiers. LC Working closely with the world's fastest land transportation was the world's fastest communications system. The electrically powered telegraph...

Fortifications

Western And Atlantic Railroad

Both sides attempted to guard key bridges, tunnels, stations or sections of the tracks with earthworks, cotton forts, blockhouses, infantry or cavalry units or sometimes just a single emplaced gun. As the war progressed, blockhouses of various designs sprang up next to railroad structures across both Eastern and Western theaters. Some were fairly simple one-storey affairs not much more sophisticated than a bombproof, but many were given a second floor to allow the defenders to fire from an...

Ambush

Gettysburg Locomotive Boiler Explosion

While the railroad batteries were intentionally sent into combat, the majority of battle-damaged rolling stock were ordinary engines and cars that wandered into the wrong place at the wrong time. The crews and passengers aboard non-combat vehicles inadvertently steaming into harm's way were routinely fired upon. Although trains hit by small-arms bullets, and even by shells from field batteries and the occasional gunboat, usually survived the ordeal, the same cannot be said for many of the...

Repairing The Railroads

Union Soldiers Gettysburg Site Org

Neither the North nor the South could spare the manpower to guard the thousands of contested rail miles against marauders bent on destruction. The weight limits of portable bridge trusses were tested under the supervision of their inventor, BrigGen Herman Haupt, head of the US Construction Corps, before they were deployed in the field. LC Their only viable option was to rebuild bridges and repair rails as quickly as possible, and as the war progressed the construction crews of both sides became...

Light Batteries

Bridge Destruction Gulf War

Far more common were light railroad batteries or armed trains. These were usually little more than a flatcar pushed ahead of the locomotive, and fitted with any of a variety of rifled or unrifled weapons including howitzers, mountain howitzers, the standard 12-pdr fieldpiece and lighter ordnance. The light rail battery carrying one or two pieces had several advantages over Rappahannock Bridge and Rappahannock Station being put to the torch note the railroad water tanks at right. Burning was...

Handcars

Chickahominy Bottoms Bridge

Handcars and pole cars were employed extensively across the railroads of antebellum America, and were pressed into military use in great numbers. Both types were human-powered the handcar featured a gearing mechanism that had to be pumped or cranked, while the simpler pole car was literally punted along the tracks with a long pole. The little double-axle cars could cost anywhere from one-sixth to one-twelfth as much as a standard freight car, and owing to their lightness and method of...

Wrecking The Railroads

Bending Railroad

Although both sides took advantage of the train's vulnerable dependence on rails, the damage inflicted on roadways and rolling stock was not always easy to accomplish, and nor could it deny their use permanently. The simplest method of slowing a train was placing heavy obstructions on the track. Removing a small section of rail also caused delays, but once spotted these gaps were not difficult to repair. Both sides learned to tear up long sections of track, pile up the wooden ties, place the...

Heavy Batteries

Wwwheavybatteris Com

Lee's Dry Land Merrimac is often cited as the world's first railroad battery to see combat. As McClellan advanced up the Virginia The most significant use of heavy rail batteries by Union forces occurred during essentially siege operations such as the Petersburg campaign of 1864-65. The railroads were an excellent way to move heavy guns into position, and the Union rail batteries could roll out to bombard Confederate earthworks before retiring to safety. This front view of such a...

Moving The Infantry

Civil War Drummer Boys Pictures

Under ideal track conditions a steam locomotive could reach speeds in excess of 60mph, though such conditions hardly ever existed on American railroads. Normal peacetime operating speeds were between 15 and 25mph, and under wartime conditions - with track and rolling stock receiving poor maintenance, and with an ever-present threat of enemy sabotage - trains in the embattled South ran as slowly as 6mph on some lines. Even so, trains could still deliver in a matter of hours the troops and...

Harnessing The Iron Horse For

Robert Lee Steamer

When war erupted, both sides scrambled to turn the disjointed private rail networks into viable military transportation systems. Both governments were aided by the fact that many of their senior commanders had been railroad men before the war graduates of West Point, especially to the Corps of Engineers, were highly sought-after , but were impeded by the fact that many corrupt politicians owned railroad companies. To a large extent the railroad companies retained their autonomy and kept their...