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Full text of "The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in the Civil War."

THE BALTIMORE and OHIO RAILROAD 
in the CIVIL WAR 



Let us turn back to an April day about 
80 years ago, and imagine ourselves at Apoomattox 
Court House, about to witness the surrender of the 
Confederate Army to the Federals. The staff officers 
of both the Grand Army of the Republic, nnd the army 
of the Confederate States of America were assembled 
awaiting the meeting of General Lee and General Gra 

Now to most readers, the story from this point 
is commonly accented fact. Lee surrendered his army, 
his arms, and his equipment to Grant, so the history 
goes. However, according to some of the stories 
which I have gathered ctions of the coun 4 - 
where I have snent much time, General Lee never 
surrendered to General Grant. Lee immaculately attired 
in Confederate full dress, met Grant, the latter 
taring a sloppy T nion field unifc: , ad General 
,, thinking Grant to be the butler, handed him 
his sword. The foregoing is based on heresay, and 
not on historical fact, and for that reason, I am 



2. 

desirous of not being Quoted. On the other hand, 
as of which version of the ending of the 
war the reader prefer?, the fac^ re a that the 
exc f the fl"ord ended four years bitter 
struggle and conflict of the War Between the State?. 

Any student of American history will readily 
agree that there is a multitude of reasons and causes 
of this y/ar offered by the historians and other 
authorities, however, since I profess no excertional 
knowledge of the cause, I will simply Ignore any and 
all motives which may have precipitated the conflict. 

Regardless of the causes, or effects of this war, 
there Is one conclusion which can definitely be 

de as a result of the struggle. This- war was 
first one i^ which railroads were used as a means 
of tr" .-tation of troops anr° materials, and the 
fir here the telegraph aided, speedy communication. 
From the use of this new, quicker means of 
transportation, the absolute feasibility and 
necessity of rapid trooo movement was shown, TCo 
greater proof of this statement Is needed than L re 
events cf the past three years of war. 

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad had t] 
distinction of bping no J le first railroao, 

also the ^aln railroad to take part in the 
Civil War. ears followi fcs founding were 
uneventful. Frederick was reached in 1R32; Harpers 
Ferry, in 1834: Washington, In 1835: and finally, 
In 1853, almost twenty-five years after the first 



3. 

ground "breaking, the Baltimore and Ohio reached 
its first objective; the Ohio River, at Wheeling. 
Two years after reaching Wheeling, trains were 

ng from Baltimore through to Cincinnati. This 
was the end of expansion for some time, for the next 
years were very hard and trying ones for the new road. 

On October 17, 1859, the first rumblings of the 
approaching conflict were heard when John Brown made 

- raid on Warners Ferry. On that night, Brown 
storned and eastbound express at Harners Ferry Station, 
held it up all night and csn?f sat discomfort to 
its nassenrjers. In the confusion, a sorter and the 
telegraph operator were billed, and several others 
injured. Colonel Robert E. Lee was sent to Harpers 
Ferry with the entire Tarine Corns, then ninety strong. 

snuffed t v :e revolution, and hung John , but 
the first snark of Civil War had been struck. 

Shortly after the outbreak of the war, the Main 
Stem of the railros capt >ed by the Confedera 4 - 
ter the Federal forces arpers stroyed t 
1 and rifle woi-*.s there, and hastily fled the 
to' eneral St 11 Jackson helned himself t 
four engine 1- , small € t, at Harpers 

Bm over a brarch line to Winchester; 
from t , down the '. 

way. The s ■•■-■- laced on 

the rails of t .assa? ay, which connected 

Lth the Virginia Central, and in turn, entire 
railway system of the" Co. y. 



"lowing this, Ja r took the 

troying the railroad pre artlnsbu. . 

consisting of fort;, ] ' es d three 

and rive cars. a was a terrific waste, is ! 

Confederacy sor^lj ed rolll stock. Bed 

in Jackaon's mi: ( , ' ce b sre 
little that could be tie, 

salvage u sslble, and Jackson ordered ^ugh Lonsust, 

vetero rail - ~ Richmond, to tinder 

se half-burned locoi er ^f 

it mile? of turnr 
^trasbur . l" : e engines were atA-Inned a: 
one bj one, d< He valley b; ms c C horses. 

At tiroes, the i =;re forced to help the hi 

-imep, all mov id to be stopped 

whi" orkers foug] be Yankees. At Strasburg, 

the e ' ss were re a? ed, . " he 

/id. 

was blunder In i~ done by bo 4- ' °s on 
K ain St" . hey took rails, t*e^s, .Tikes, plat*^, 
cars, In fact everything wl Ich would move, or could be 

ad put It In service, )nly to 
of r side down and take 11 back. If 
it cor jt be moved, it was destroyei d ^11 
use. J burned, and used to h< etal to be 
out of recognition, % culverts, <=nd 
.leral right- of- way received special attention 
from the wreckers. One of their favorit- ie 
bridge; acx'oas the Potomac at Harpers 

poyed I'snj l! p ? 



b. 

not only by ' armies, by t^e unruly Fotomac, 

>uld si; enl; swell it? b« and tg 
everything in Its path. Tel- "ions, 

and other property were destroyed. The tiain S ; 

crossed many a by both armies In the cou~ 
of the four year's struggle. 

e Baltimore and Ohio was vital to the life 
of the Union, for it was the only line from the 
West with a direct line into Washington. The orownii 

ent of the system in the way of service to 
the n was the transportation of the Eleventh 
and Twelth Army Corps from I Rappahannock River 
Line, -ittanooga, Tennessee, a distance of 
fourteen hundred miles. In eleven days. However, 
even this was eclipsed fifteen months later, when 
the Twenty-third Army Corps, seventeen thousand strong, 

i on the banks of the Tenessee River, was needed 
i-o help drive the last spike into the coffin of the 
Confederacy. They were brought over t v, e route 
as before, and in spite of flood, blizzard, broken- 
down motive power, cars, and trackage, this job was 
accomplished in less time than before. 

The Baltimore and Ohio had one more serviee to 
perform for the great war-time president, Abraham 
Lincoln. Thi s was Indeed a very sad service, for it 

is the Baltimore and Ohio that carried the President's 
body from Washington. This untimely death was greatly 
mourned, and the ranks of the mourners did not stop 
at the imaginary Mason- Dixon Line. 



6. 
In 1865, the War Between the States was brought to 
a close, and the entire nation was faced with the 
unpleasant task of reconstruction. The Confederate 
soldiers returned to a ruined and bitter South. Its 
great plantations were devasted, the few small industries 
were snuffed, its public offices were overrun with corrupt 
politicians, and its rails were retarded for twenty years. 
Dixieland was destined, even to this day, not to regain 
the position it had enjoyed previous to the war. 

From this sad conflict, many lessons were learned; 

as already mentioned, the advisability, if not necessity 
of troop and supply transportation by rails, at that time 
the only quick means. In addition, the merit of the 
telegraph as a speedy method of communication was proven. 
Indeed the truth of the statement of Nathan Buford Forrest , 
Confederate cavalaryman, was definitely borne out. He said, 
and rather crudely so, "The feller that gits thar fustest 
with the mostest men, wins the battle'. 1 

However, more important than any of these results is 
the one which we all look to pride with today. From the 
ruins of a nation, practically torn apart by internal strife, 
rose a new movement - to the West, and it was soon shown 
that the United States was a confederation of states , 
bound from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the 
Gulf to the Lakes, into one inseperable union, and one of 
the greatest binders was the steel rails of the trans cont- 
inental railroads.