| Locomotive – The Confederate
locomotive was usually about 6 years old. It weighed about 22 tons
and could pull a train of 10-15 cars.
Most were built in the North, but various Southern shops,
and the railroads’ own shops, had produced about 8% of the
| The American locomotive had taken on
its Civil War appearance in about 1852.
The locomotive was what would later be called a 4-4-0,
meaning that it had 4 wheels on a swiveling truck up forward, 4
drive wheels supplying motive force, and no wheels under the cab.
The drive wheels on a few of the mountain and freight engines were
increased to 6 in number. The forward truck allowed the locomotive
to stay on the track when it entered one of the many turns on
American railways; English locomotives, built for near
arrow-straight rail lines, lacked this truck and were, therefore,
unsuitable for American use.
The last of 120 English locomotives imported into the
United States arrived in 1841.
The forward truck also spread the locomotive’s weigh to
more of the track, thus allowing heavier locomotives without
having to replace the track with stronger rails.
| Railroad shops could make major
repairs and do overhauls on locomotives. The job went faster, and
was much more complete, when certain parts could be purchased. As
the war progressed, boiler tubes (flues), bearings, and tires for the
drive wheels became extremely hard to find. Somehow, almost all
locomotives in Southern hands at the start of 1865 were in running
order, though not in good order.
| The theoretical capacity of
locomotives is here.
| Tender – The tender was the
shortest car in a train, but frequently weighed almost as much as
the locomotive. Its load of wood and water was sized to allow the
locomotive to travel about 50 miles before having to restock.
While this seems to be a very short run, in fact, stations
were frequently only 4 miles apart and entire lines might be only
100 miles long.
| Wood was fed into the firebox by the
fireman, by hand. The water pump was activated by the movement of
the drive shafts. The universal lack of a hand pump caused
overheating problems when the engines could not move enough to
keep the water level in the boiler up.
| Passenger car – Passenger
cars had developed little since the first open carriages.
The top had been closed with a roof, but the remaining
amenities were meager and were usually gone by mid-1862. These
other amenities were padded benches, one or two stoves for
heating, a cask of water for drinking, and a couple of lamps. The
usual car carried 40 passengers in peacetime (60 during the war)
in a little over 40-foot long car.
| Because of the likelihood of burned
clothing, and the unpleasantness of choking pine smoke, the order
of cars in a train (sometimes mandated by state law) was freight
cars closest to the engine, then express cars, then second class
passenger cars (for slaves) and finally first class passenger
| Boxcar – Boxcars weighed 8
tons and carried 8 tons of cargo on 8 wheels. Most boxcars were
made by their own road, with iron parts (wheels and axels)
purchased. They were kept rainproof by tin coatings on the roof
– a component the South was unable to provide for new
construction or repairs. All box and other cargo cars were a bit
over 30 feet long.
| Flatcar – These were box cars
without the sides and roof.
| Stock car – These cars were
flat cars with a wooden fence around the outer edges of the car.
Since there was little livestock movement in the pre-war South,
there were almost no stock cars to transport the huge number of
horses and cattle needed by the armies.
| Coal, Gravel, Bulk cars –
These cars could take any of several shapes – the most common
one on roads with service to coal fields looked like flat cars
with two salad bowels on them. As with stock cars, there were
almost no bulk cars to carry the corn and wheat that needed to be
transported to support the armies, forcing these products to be
transported in sacks or on flat cars with the sides built up.
| Express cars – These were
boxcars used to carry express shipments.
These were the UPS/FedEx 18-wheelers of the day and were
usually owned by the express companies. An express company
employee rode in the car to provide protection against theft and
to expedite the car’s handling.
| Ambulance cars -- A handful of
these cars were built to carry the sick and wounded away from
troop encampments to hospital areas. (NP,
VC 9-30-61, NP,
| Conductor’s car – When
present, this car was usually a boxcar where the conductor had his
papers and work space. The caboose would not arrive for another
| Sleeping cars – Though these
cars were just starting to be used in the North, they were very
rarely found in the South. Sleeping was done sitting on the
straight-backed benches of regular passenger cars or in hotels.
| Refrigerator, Dining, Liquid cars
– These cars did not exist. Eating was done at designated stops,
with time allowed in the train schedule. Liquids were shipped in