Civil War railroads: Defending the indefensible

Discussion in 'Civil War Strategy and Tactics.' started by 5fish, Dec 31, 2019.

  1. 5fish

    5fish Well-Known Member

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    I found this short but interesting article... railroads hidden effects...

    https://www.columbiadailyherald.com/article/20150228/OPINION/302289991

    For the Union army this made capturing and using Southern railroads an absolute requirement before they could take the first step toward their enemies. Once they had taken a rail line they then had to defend it from raiders and any other enemy action. The Confederates learned very quickly that these exposed rail lines were the enemy’s jugular, and their own great weakness.

    Snip... Why Shiloh ...

    One of the South’s most important railroad was the Memphis and Charleston Railroad that connected the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi River. U.S. Grant also knew this, and his first invasion came up (south) the Tennessee River to Pittsburg Landing where it was a relatively short march to the M&CRR at Corinth, Mississippi. Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston was ahead of him, and as he fell back out of Tennessee he gathered his army together at Corinth. He knew that he had to defend that railroad.

    Snip...

    Johnston struck first, and the result was the Battle of Shiloh, but the Confederates lost and fell back to Corinth where the Union army laid siege. Even withholding that railroad the Confederates had to fall back into Mississippi, and the M&CRR was cut in half. While the battles of Shiloh and Corinth were important, the crucial aspect of this campaign was that the Union army now held both the lower Tennessee River Valley and a significant chunk of the M&CRR.

    Snip... plan...

    The Union army came up with only one method that worked – some of the time. They used soldiers – lots and lots of soldiers. They built stockades and small forts all up and down the railroads and garrisoned them with the lesser-fit men of their armies. There was a small fort at the Rutherford Creek bridge just off Carter’s Creek Pike, and at Duck River they had a large fort where the Spontex plant was and two block houses, all guarding the Duck River railroad bridge. At Culleoka there was a fortress known as “Fort Palmer” to guard the long trestle over Fountain Creek. It was named for a General Palmer whose command built i
    t.

    You can read the rest for the outcome...
     
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  2. Kirk's Raider's

    Kirk's Raider's Well-Known Member

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    Guarding railroads was difficult but the Union Army was reasonably successful. The Confederate guerrillas in Alabama were unable to prevent Union trains from reaching Bridgeport, Alabama the first part of the Cracker Line to Chattanooga.
    Kirk's Raiders
     
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  3. O' Be Joyful

    O' Be Joyful Well-Known Member

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    Look back, The South and Jeff Davis wanted a southern R.R. route to connect w/ the Chinese trade via California.

    Silk worms and tea is what led to the war. :D
     
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  4. 5fish

    5fish Well-Known Member

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    http://gorhistory.com/hist383/CentralPacific.html

    You may be right but just a little off... It was the northern route that laid the seeds of our Civil War... It gave us the Kansas -Nebraska Act, repeal of the Missouri Compromise and the introduction of Popular Sovereignty, all the seeds of our civil war... I believe the train should have been built through the south it would have avoided the war...


    Goal #1: To follow "the uphill struggle" the U.S. Congress faced trying to get a transcontinental railroad with a western terminus in California

    This part of our story begins with the desire of many southerners who still hoped to expand slavery into the west by establishing a slaveholding colony in southern California that would produce rice, cotton, and sugar.

    [​IMG]
    To accomplish this, some southerners began to support the idea for a transcontinental railroad running through the southern states and into southern California. What followed was a major battle in the U.S. Congress over the route - a northern or southern route.

    • The southern route was supported by the Strict Constructionist/Democratic viewpoint - Southerners argued that there was no constitutional clause giving Congress the power to build a transcontinental railroad. Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War, got around this by saying that the Constitution gave the federal government responsibility for national defense, and the railroad was being constructed for military purposes - getting troops to the Pacific and food and supplies to the troops in case of foreign invasion. The logical route for such a railroad, he argued, was through the south and into southern California.
      • This route was reinforced by President Pierce's desire to purchase a large portion of northern Mexico.
      • Thus in 1853, he instructed James Gadsden, the new American minister to Mexico, to purchase land from Mexico for a prospective railroad route that would cross southern New Mexico and Arizona.
      • Gadsden purchased about 30,000 square miles for $10 million - but the railroad was not built along this route.
    • The northern route was supported by the Loose Constructionist/Republican viewpoint - Northerners argued that Congress
      [​IMG]
      had the power to build a transcontinental railroad - a railroad with its terminus going through the north. The main proponent of this route was Stephen Douglas who crafted the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 in part, as an argument for a northern route. Douglas wanted the eastern terminus at Chicago, going through Council Bluffs, and ending in San Francisco. Building such a railroad would attract settlers, but it also required Congress to organize the Nebraska territory. Thus, the Act called for reorganizing the territory by:
      • Repealing the Missouri Compromise's ban on slavery in the northern half of the Louisiana Purchase.
      • Allowing for popular sovereignty in the territories so that the settlers could decide the issue of slavery.
      • This is just the introduction to the enormous battle that would soon take place over the building of the transcontinental railroad.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2020
  5. 5fish

    5fish Well-Known Member

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    It was Senator Douglas greed gave us our civil war for he trashes all the compromises to get his railroad which he did not get...

    https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/civil_war/RoadtoWar.htm


    Anxious to build a transcontinental railroad from Chicago to the West Coast, Senator Douglas introduced the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 to organize those territories for statehood. To meet the objections of Southerners who were promoting a southern route for the railroad, the act opened the territories for settlement but provided that the settlers, through “popular sovereignty,” could allow or prohibit slavery. This undermined the 1820 Missouri Compromise and further inflamed the passions in the North and the South. Both slaveholders and abolitionists flooded into the new territories to influence votes on state constitutions. Communities erupted into violence in what became known as “Bleeding Kansas.” Intended to settle sectional disputes, the Kansas-Nebraska Act instead brought the nation closer to civil war.
     
  6. 5fish

    5fish Well-Known Member

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    Railroads... and war... https://americanexperience.si.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/How-the-Railroad-Won-the-War.pdf

    Snippets...

    The majority of Civil War battles were fought outside populated areas, in what were then remote and underdeveloped areas of the country, primarily in southern states like Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia. Every major Civil War battle east of the Mississippi River took place within twenty miles of a rail line. Railroads provided fresh supplies of arms, men, equipment, horses, and medical supplies on a direct route to where armies were camped. The railroad was also put to use for medical evacuations, transporting wounded soldiers to better medical care. Consequently, armies were not dependent on the bounty, or lack thereof, of the land which they occupied.

    Railroads were visible symbols of industry and modernity during the Civil War. They were agents of progress, promoters of civilization, and enhancers of democracy which could bind the North and the South together as one nation. They were also the lifeline of the army. A general’s success or failure depended on fresh supplies and soldiers delivered directly to the battlefield.

    Consequently, Union strategists deliberately targeted rail junctions as campaign objectives in places like Chattanooga, Tennessee; Atlanta, Georgia; and Corinth, Mississippi. This was especially true of Atlanta, a city which served as the Confederacy’s rail hub and manufacturing center.

    Arguably, no Civil War commander used the rail network to their advantage quite like Union General William Tecumseh Sherman. Sherman elucidated on the importance of the railroad for the Union during the Atlanta campaign:


    Snip... look what it took to supply Sherman's army...

    Four such groups of trains daily made one hundred and sixty cars, of ten tons each, carrying sixteen hundred tons, which exceeded the absolute necessity of the army, and allowed for the accidents that were common and inevitable. But, as I have recorded, that single stem of railroad, found hundred and seventy-three miles long, supplies an army of one hundred thousand men and thirty-five thousand animals for the period of one hundred and ninety-six days, viz., from May 1 to November 12, 1864. To have delivered regularly that amount of food and forage by ordinary wagons would have required thirty-six thousand eight hundred wagons of six mules each, allowing each wagon to have hauled two tons twenty miles each day, a simple impossibility in roads such as then existed in that region of country. Therefore, I reiterate that the Atlanta campaign was an impossibility without these railroads; and only then, because we had the men and means to maintain and defend them, in addition to what were necessary to overcome the enemy.

     
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  7. Kirk's Raider's

    Kirk's Raider's Well-Known Member

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    By Atlanta Campaign which ended in September is Sherman just referring to the logistics to capture Atlanta or is he staying that the rail line extended east of Atlanta and helped feed his men marching to Savannah.
    Kirk's Raiders
     
  8. 5fish

    5fish Well-Known Member

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    Sherman March to the Sea did not start unit December... I guess to Atlanta area
     
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  9. Kirk's Raider's

    Kirk's Raider's Well-Known Member

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    Per Wiki November 15 to December 21.
    Kirk's Raiders
     

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