Fortifications

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 elevated position. US Army engineers built nearly 50 blockhouses near the various bridges and depots of the Baltimore & Ohio, and some locations had more than one - the Rowlesburg Bridge was protected by no fewer than four. These sturdy, dug-in wooden structures could withstand the impact of bullets and even, to some extent, field-gun shells.

Blockhouses and battery positions had the disadvantage, especially in the South, of tying down numerous troops needed more urgently elsewhere. During fluid campaigns field commanders would often place artillery pieces near a bridge or depot, or send a small detachment of infantry or cavalry to ward off roaming enemy cavalry. While blockhouses, batteries, and temporary or permanent guard detachments were effective against small numbers of attackers they were obviously no match for major units on

An interior view of a Confederate fort guarding the Western & Atlantic Railroad in Atlanta, GA. The earth ramparts are revetted with planking and consolidated with sandbags, and there is an external chevaux-de-frise of X-shaped pointed stakes set along poles. (LC)

Western And Atlantic Railroad

A train rolling over some serious trestlework near the fighting at Petersburg. The two boxcars are loaded with troops, both inside and riding the roofs, and the flatcars behind may be carrying artillery. A "bombproof" shelter, used as an ammunition store and occasionally as an officers' position, lies between the two trees in the center. (LC)

A train rolling over some serious trestlework near the fighting at Petersburg. The two boxcars are loaded with troops, both inside and riding the roofs, and the flatcars behind may be carrying artillery. A "bombproof" shelter, used as an ammunition store and occasionally as an officers' position, lies between the two trees in the center. (LC)

the move. While campaigning in northern Virginia in August 1862, "Stonewall" Jackson's forces drove off the Union guards left at Bristoe Station on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad. Jackson captured two trains approaching the station unwarned; he then turned his forces on Manassas Junction, capturing nine artillery pieces, 300 prisoners, nearly 200 horses, 50,000 pounds of bacon, and thousands of barrels of salt pork, flour, and corned beef.

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