Biography of John M. Robinson

I have found no personnel file for Captain Robinson in the National Archives. Entries in blue are references and my additions. 

Photo from

   John Moncure Robinson was born in Philadelphia, October 22, 1835, son of Moncure Robinson. He was educated at the Virginia Military Institute, the Lawrence Scientific School and Harvard University. After graduating, he continued his study of civil engineering. His business career started as a locomotive engineer running from Philadelphia to the Susquehanna River. His first engineering job was as an official with the Washington turnpike Company.
   When the War broke out, he was General Superintendent of the Seaboard & Roanoke RR. 
   After the war, he was elected President of the Seaboard & Roanoke RR and continued in railroading as far as I have found records.
   He married Champe Conway in Richmond in 1864. He died February 14, 1893, in Baltimore.
   Much of the above information, excluding his wartime service, is taken from his obituary, published in the New York Times on February 15, 1893.
April 27, 1861 Passes 2 North Carolina men to Portsmouth to look for cannon
July 13, 1861 Accepts part-time position from Gen. Wise
October 14, 1861 Tries to buy supplies from the Superintendent of the Richmond & Petersburg RR and suggests schedule changes for the winter season.
March 7, 1862 Agrees to pay a debt to the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac RR that his father, a former official of that company, owed to the company. His father was living in the North and was considered an alien.
LVA, RF&P 3-7-62
March 29, 1862 Charge for standby train
April 1, 1862 Attended Convention regarding moving troops in eastern Virginia and North Carolina
April 2, 1862 Have the cars at Weldon ready to move at a moments notice
April 21, 1862 Was requested to allow his railroad's cars to run through to Goldsboro, rather than unloading in Weldon.
NA, QM 4-21B-62
May 1, 1862 Secretary of War instructs the movement of railroad iron away from Norfolk and mentions that Robinson is on General Loring's staff in Suffolk.
OR Series 1, Vol. 11, Pt 3, Page 485
May 8, 1862 Asks Secretary of War for help evacuating Norfolk stores
May 11, 1862 Responds to plan to remove Seaboard & Roanoke RR rails
January 1, 1863 General Sam. Smith reports that he is sending Capt. Robinson, an engineer on his staff, to Bristol to review the damage to railroads due to an enemy raid.
OR Series 1, Vol. 20, Part 2, Page 475
January 6, 1863 Engineer Bureau orders Capt. Robinson, in Knoxville, to construct defenses for the important railroad bridges in the area.
NA, ENG 1-6A-63
January 25, 1863 Contacts Virginia & Tennessee RR about building defenses for a bridge
January 27, 1863 Endorsement of Engineer Bureau to the Secretary of War recommending that Capt. Robinson be sent to Europe to buy supplies as suggested by the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac RR and for the Engineer Bureau
NA, ENG 1-27-63
February 9, 1863 Robinson reports to the Board of Directors about the meetings he has recently had with the Secretaries of War and Navy about shipping European purchases for the railroads into the Confederacy. Appears to say that he will meet with President Davis the next day.
LVA, RF&P 2-9-63
February 12, 1863 Reports for duty at the Engineer Bureau in Richmond
Railroads request Robinson buy supplies for them while he is in Europe
February 16, 1863 President of the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac RR reports to his Board of Directors, with Capt. Robinson present, that the Seaboard & Roanoke RR will provide some English funds toward the purchase of supplies for the RF&P RR
LVA, RF&P 2-16-63
February 22, 1863 Letter of introduction of Capt. Robinson to a company in London
VHS Mss3R4152b Daniel Ltrbk p520
February 26, 1863 Authorized to draw L10,000 from fund in England for the Engineer Bureau
NA, ENG 2-26-63
List of materials to buy for the Engineer Bureau
April 25, 1863 Reports his arrival in London
NA, ENGR 4-25-63
May 27, 1863 Naval mines materials will be bought in Europe by Capt. Robinson, who is now in Europe
June 15, 1863 A letter was dispatched from the Engineer Bureau to Capt. Robinson, still in London
NA, ENG 6-15A-63
June 16, 1863 Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac RR Board of Directors meetings minutes detailing problems Capt. Robinson was working on in London
LVA, RF&P 6-16-63
LVA, RF&P 7-20-63
LVA, RF&P 8-20-63
July 10, 1863 Reported trying to make arrangements to supply railroads throughout the war
NA, ENGR 7-10-63
NA, ENGR 9-18C-63
August 4, 1863 Capt. Robinson dealing with English merchants and shippers
NA, RF&P 8-4-63
NA, RF&P 8-7-63
September 6, 1863 Approximate date returned to Confederacy from Bermuda
September 18, 1863 Reports to Engineer Bureau regarding negotiating for the railroad in England
NA, ENGR 9-18B-63
September 30, 1863 Advised to make out his disbursement forms for his London trip as soon as possible (ie he was back in Richmond)
NA, ENG 9-30E-63
President of Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac RR recommends to the Government that Capt. Robinson be sent back to England to purchase for the other Confederate railroads
October 10, 1863 Was considered for membership on the Commission to Remove Iron
November 15, 1863 Reports from Tuscaloosa that he has been ill, but is heading to Richmond to report for duty
NA, ENGR 11-15-63
December 9, 1863 Receives articles for the repair of the East Tennessee & Virginia RR
January 1, 1864 Buys lumber and timbers for bridge repairs
NA, RRB 1-1B-64
January 5, 1864 Capt. Robinson is back in East Tennessee repairing railroads
NA, ENG 1-5-64
January 9, 1864 Engineer Bureau gives Capt. Robinson extra funds for his work in East Tennessee
January 13, 1864 One East Tennessee railroad bridge is completed and Capt. Robinson is directed to work on two more
OR Series 1, Vol. 32, Part 2, Page 551
January 14, 1864 Reports status of bridge repairs
NA, ENGR 1-14A-64
January 21, 1864 Ordered to give Quartermaster corn preference over all other freight
February 8, 1864 Petersburg RR requests he be sent back to England to buy more RR supplies
February 25, 1864 Submits claim for expenses in Europe to QMG
NA, QMR 2-25-64
March 2, 1864 Granted the right to buy government shovels
NA, ENG 3-2-64
March 18, 1864 Asked if he can provide a Seaboard & Roanoke RR train to remove iron from the Rogersville & Jefferson RR
NA, ENG 3-18C-64
Capt. Robinson's proposed changes to the East Tennessee bridges is approved
NA, ENG 3-18D-64
NA, ENG 3-18E-64
March 31, 1864 Fails to account for lumber purchased during first quarter (probably for bridge repairs)
May 1, 1864 Ordered to apply for permission to go to Richmond (from Dublin, Virginia) and consult with the Quartermaster General regarding a railroad transportation matter
NA, ENG 5-1-64
May 5, 1864 Reports corn, flour & mules shipment. Will order trains to Danville as ordered by QMG
NA, QMR 5-8-64
May 10, 1864 Adjutant General to issue an order to Capt. Robinson directing him to take charge of railroad transportation between Richmond and Wilmington
NA, QM 5-10A-64
NA, ENG 5-18-64
OR Series 1, Vol. 36, Part 2, Page 987
May 20, 1864 Quartermaster General attempts to locate Capt. Robinson
NA, QM 5-20B-64
June 6, 1864 Ordered to keep the corn moving toward Richmond
NA, QM 6-6-64
NA, QM 6-21-64
June 11, 1864 Quartermaster Captain Langdon, at Weldon, N. C., will be governed by Robinson's orders
NA, QM 6-11-64
NA, QM 6-11A-64
June 18, 1864 Reported to be trying to get labor to repair a break in the track toward Richmond
OR Series 1, Vol. 51, Part 2, Page 1020
June 23, 1864 May have been sent to Lee to explain the transportation situation
June 24, 1864 Endorsement on his suggestion that negroes working on fortifications be sent to repair the South Side RR and the Richmond & Danville RR
NA, ENG 6-24E-64
July 4, 1864 Given permission to impress wood for the locomotives hauling government supplies from Wilmington to Richmond
NA, QM 7-4-64
July 7, 1864 In process of repairing the Petersburg RR
NA, QM 7-7-64
July 15, 1864 Lee's Quartermaster issues instructions regarding shipments from Wilmington and Weldon to Petersburg
NA, QM 7-15B-64
August 12, 1864 Ordered to work with Capt. E. T. D. Myers to inspect the Virginia Central RR track
NA, ENG 8-12-64
September 30, 1864 Sent to Lee's Quartermaster to arrange wagon shipment for part of the supply chain from Wilmington to Petersburg
NA, QM 9-30-64
October 5, 1864 Reports the danger of removing all the men from the Petersburg RR
October 13, 1864 Secures the return of Petersburg RR employees from the Army to prepare equipment for removal from Petersburg
NA, QM 10-13-64
October 14, 1864 QM General forwards a request for iron for a RR spur at Halifax, N. C.
NA, QMR 9-27-64
Makes contract with Sims for CS use of bridge
NA, QMR 10-14C-64
October 25, 1864 Informed of movement of Petersburg RR rolling stock
NA, QMR 10-20B-64
October 27, 1864 Sent to Danville to arrange for more sidings there
November 12, 1864 Reports on effect of manpower shortage for RRs
NA, QMR 11-12A-64
November 26, 1864 Engineer Bureau asked for him to check on possible unemployed rail at Statesville
NA, QMR 11-26-64
November 28, 1864 Handed a Sims letter to Major Branch in Petersburg
December 19, 1864 Reports locomotive Mars is idle
NA, QMR 12-19-64
December 22, 1864 Requests permission to trade through the lines for RR supplies
January 4, 1865 Ordered to secure or impress a locomotive for the Piedmont RR
NA, QM 1-4-65
January 10, 1865 Reports condition of Petersburg RR rolling stock
NA, QMR 1-10C-65
Reports the value of a locomotive
NA, QMR 1-10E-65
January 11, 1865 Ordered to move Virginia Central RR iron promptly
NA, QMR 1-10D-65
January 12, 1865 His report on the rolling stock of the Petersburg RR forwarded to Lee
January 18, 1865 Ordered to Wilmington immediately to supervise removal of Government stores
NA, QM 1-18-65
Ordered to provide transportation at Goldsboro, N. C.
NA, QMR 1-10A-65
January 26, 1865 Informed that a locomotive will be ready shortly and will be at a certain station; was with the Quartermaster General
MISC, RR 1-26-65
March 9, 1865 Requests permission to trade cotton for RR supplies
March 11, 1865 Secretary of War reports to Lee that Robinson and Carrington have stopped trains to Lee and asks for instructions
March 14, 1865 Is mentioned as knowing about the trains needed to convey prisoners
OR Series 1, Vol. 47, Part 2, Page 1393
March 16, 1865 Horses were ordered to be sent to him by road and train
OR Series 1, Vol. 47, Part 2, Page 1400
March 18, 1865 Asks Lee's headquarters for instructions on what to do with the 19 locomotives and 150 cars on roads that will be cut off if Raleigh falls. Signs as Military Superintendent of Railroads
OR Series 1, Vol. 47, Part 2, Page 1426
Sharp told to contact Robinson for labor assistance
OR Series 1, Vol. 47, Part 2, Page 1437
March 20, 1865 Is included in creating a plan to remove the wounded by way of the North Carolina RR
OR Series 1, Vol. 47, Part 2, Page 1444
March 21, 1865 Reports that three railroads will not be able to assist Capt. Thomas R. Sharp
OR Series 1, Vol. 47, Part 2, Page 1449
March 22, 1865 Provides rolling stock to Smithfield, N. C.
OR Series 1, Vol. 47, Part 2, Page 1453
March 23, 1865 Instructed on when to remove trains west of Raleigh
OR Series 1, Vol. 47, Part 2, Page 1455A
March 25, 1865 Ordered to remove supplies from Goldsboro as fast as possible
Asks for instructions about removing supplies and whether to risk rolling stock
OR Series 1, Vol. 47, Part 3, Page 688
OR Series 1, Vol. 47, Part 3, Page 695