Chicago, Tuesday, October 9, 1866
INTERESTING RAILROAD RECORD.
Our Military Roads During the Late War.
How they were Managed-
Unprecedented Feats of Repair and Construction.
[Correspondence of the Chicago Tribune,]
Washington, October 4.
USE OF RAILROADS DURING THE WAR.
During the nearly forty years in which railroads have been In
existence, no great war has ever thoroughly tested their use till
the late rebellion. Operating on the outer line of a great circle,
and slowly but steadily moving towards its centre, it was necessary
to transport immense bodies of men, animals and munitions of war
great distances, through a hostile territory, and at comparatively
rapid speed. The experiment of supplying an army over a long line
of railroad through an enemy's country had never been tested.
It demanded a high order of practical talent, the most perfect
organization and the most vigilant energy. That all these circumstances
concurred in the management of our Military Railroads, is best
proven by the result of the war itself. The following facts, taken
from the official records of the War Department, show the mode
in which the whole system was carried on.
APPOINTMENT OF RAILROAD SUPERINTENDENT.
On the 11th of February, 1862, the Secretary of War appointed
D.C. McCallum, " Military Director and Superintendent of
railroads in the United States, with authority to enter upon,
take possession of, hold and use all locomotives, equipments,
appendages and appurtenances that may be required for the transport
of troops, arms, ammunition, and military supplies of the United
Government was at that time running a railroad seven miles long
from Washington to Alexandria. Commencing with this light duty,
General McCallum organized the largest railroad system in the
world, and held it till the war was over, purchasing, or capturing
four hundred and nineteen locomotives, and six thousand three
hundred and thirty cars.
FIRST PURCHASE OF ENGINES.
The first purchase of engines by Government was on March 14, 1862,
when under orders from General McCallum, five engines and eighty
cars were put on shipboard at Baltimore for use in the Peninsular
campaign. On the withdrawal of McClellan's army to Harrison's
Landing, June 28, all this stock was destroyed to prevent it from
falling into the hands of the enemy.
Then commenced that building and rebuilding of railroads in Northern
Virginia, rendered necessary by the alternate advances and retreats
of the contending armies. In the summer of 1862 General McCallum
opened the road to the Rapidan, a distance of' eighty miles; on
the retreat of General Pope in August, the road was entirely abandoned,
with the loss of seven locomotives and two hundred and ninety-five
cars. The Manassas Gap Railroad, the Loudon and Hampshire Railroad,
and the road from Aquia Creek to Fredricksburg were severally
opened again and again to be destroyed again and again, till Grant
finally shut up General Lee in Richmond. Since that time it has
been safe for a Yankee to ride on a Virginia railroad. During
that year the greatest engineering feat was the rebuilding the
Rappahannock Bridge, six hundred and twenty-five feet long and
thirty-five feet high in only nineteen working hours.
DESTRUCTION OF ROADS IN PENNSYLVANIA.
During the rebel occupation of Central Pennsylvania in June, 1863,
all the bridges were destroyed by them on the Northern Central
Railroad, between Hanover Junction and Harrisburg, and many miles
of track torn up on the Cumberland Valley & Franklin Railroads.
As the war progressed, the nature, capacity and value of railroads
were better understood on both sides, and more systematic and
determined efforts were made by the enemy against the lines used
for transporting supplies to our armies. The destruction of track
and bridges was greater each subsequent time the roads passed
within their military lines, and it became apparent that extraordinary
preparation must be made to meet it. With his accustomed energy,
therefore, General McCallum organized a construction corps of
300 men; this grew and swelled till it finally amounted to ten
During the war, seventeen railroads were run at different times
in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, by Government, at a cost
of nearly five millions of dollars, and using seventy-two engines
and 1,733 cars; at the close of the war, these were all returned
to their owners.
Not until December, 1863, did General McCallum take charge of
the Military Railroads of the Southwest. Then commenced the experiment
of supplying an army over a long line of railroad through an enemy's
country. To carry food and forage to the army at Chattanooga,
the General called for 200 locomotives and 3,000 cars. About twelve
thousand men were employed in the Transportation Department of
the Mississippi; in the construction corps, about five thousand
more. To obtain the necessary engines and cars, the following
order was given by the Secretary of War, impressing all the cars
and locomotives building in the country.
WASHINGTON CITY, March 23, 1864.
GENTLEMEN: Colonel Daniel C. McCallum, general manager of Government
railways, has been authorized by this Department to procure locomotives
without delay for the railways under his charge.
In order to meet the wants of the Military Departments of the
Government, you will deliver to his order such engines as he may
direct, whether building under orders for other parties or otherwise,
the Government being accountable to you for the same. The urgent
necessity of the Government for the immediate supply of our armies
operating in Tennessee renders the engines indispensable for the
equipment of the line of communication, and it is hoped that this
necessity will be recognized by you as a military necessity, paramount
to all other considerations.
By order of the President,
Edwin M. Stanton Sec'y of War.
Under this order, which placed all the locomotives manufactories
of' the country at the disposal of General McCallum, and which
nothing but military necessity would justify, one hundred and
forty engines and two thousand, five hundred and seventy three,
cars were built and handed over to the Government, now running
over a thousand miles of railroad in the Southwest. On the Western
& Atlantic Railroad, from Chattanooga to Atlanta, the guerillas
made continuous warfare. Every device possible to apply was used
to throw trains from the track, and though occasionally successful,
the preparations to guard against such attempts were so complete
that few of them caused loss of life or more than a few hours'
detention. The most important single structure on this road was
the Chattahoochie bridge, seven hundred and eighty feet long and
ninety-two feet high, and this enormous bridge was completed by
the construction corps in four and a half days. European warfare
never witnessed a greater rapidity of construction than this.
Early in October, 1864, General Hood passed around General Sherman's
army, and fell upon the railroad at several points in its rear.
He destroyed 35 miles of track and 455 lineal feet of bridges;
but in thirteen days after he left the line, it was repaired and
trains were run over its entire length.
Twenty-five miles of track and 230 feet of bridges, between Tunnel
Hill and Reseca, were reconstructed in seven and one-half days.
This was accomplished by working from each end of the track, and
at the same time working both ways from Dalton, which was reached
by trains with material, by way of Cleveland, after relaying 1
miles of track.
Over 1,200 miles of railroad were operated in the Southwest in
1864 and 1865, and were turned over to the owners in September,
1865. About thirteen millions of dollars were paid to the operatives
engaged in run. ning them. Nearly 19 miles of' bridges were built
and rebuilt, and 433 miles of track laid.
THE CHATTANOOGA ROLLING MILL
There being a large quantity of old rails always on hand and as
the price of iron and labor had steadily advanced and was still
advancing an order was issued February 17, 1864, to complete and
set at work the rolling mill in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This was
done at a cost of $290,000, and 3,818 tons of rails were re-rolled
there. After being in operation six months it was sold for $175,000.
In addition to these 3,818 tons, Government purchased 21,783 tons
during the war ; the lowest price, which was $40, was paid in
July, 1862; in June, 1864, the price had advanced to $130.
The following statistics show the number of cars and locomotives
operated by Government during the war:
Whole number of locomotives
Lost or destroyed
Sold for cash
Sold for credit under executive orders of
August 8 and October 14
Returned to former owners
Whole number of cars
Lost or destroyed
Returned to former owners
Sold for cash
Sold for credit
AN A. JOHNSON SPECULATION.
At a time when the railroads of the country were needing all the
rolling stock they could get, and were willing to pay for it in
cash President Johnson ordered 164 engines and 2,589 cars, to
be sold at cash prices on long credit, to Southern railroads,
for the enormous amount of $7,428,204.96, while the cash sales
were only $3,466,739.33. Of that sold on credit, not one-fifth
has yet been paid and much of it never will be. It was a generous
offer to the Southern railroads, inviting them to come back into
the Union and receive the new cars and engines the Union had built
at the nation's expense. They accepted the invitation; but only
one of these roads has as yet paid in full for the rolling stock
GENERAL M'CALLUM'S REPORT.
In his report, General McCallum, to whom all the credit of the
energy and systematic operation of their roads belong, says that
in the beginning of the war military railroads were an experiment;
and although some light as to these management had been gleaned
by the operations of' 1862 and 1863, yet so little progress had
been made that the attempt to supply the army of General Sherman
in the field, construct and reconstruct the railroad in its rear
and keep pace with its march, was regarded by those who had the
largest experience, and who had become most familiar with the
subject, as the greatest experiment of all. The attempt to furnish
an army of one hundred thousand men and sixty thousand animals
with supplies from a base three hundred and sixty miles distant
by one line of single track railroad, located almost the entire
distance through the country of an active and most vindictive
enemy, is without precedent in the history of warfare, and to
make it successful required an enormous outlay for labor, and
a vast consumption of material, together with all the forethought,
energy, patience and watchfulness of which men are capable.
This line, from its great length, was imperfectly guarded, as
troops could not be spared from the front for that purpose. This
rendered the railroad service one of great risk and hazard, and
at times it was only by the force of military authority that men
could be held to service. As an item showing the real danger attending
military railroad operations, it may be stated that during the
last six months of the fiscal year, ending June 30, 1865 the wrecking
train picked up and carried to Nashville sixteen wrecked locomotives,
and 294 car loads of car wheels, bridge iron, &c., all the
result of guerilla and rebel raids.
The United States military railroads were transferred by Executive
order of August 8, 1865, to the original owners.
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