| When Richmond fell, its well recorded
that Jefferson Davis escaped on a special train on the Richmond
& Danville Railroad. On rare occasions, the locomotive that
pulled that train is identified as the Charles Seddon.
However, on June 21, 1864, Lt. Col. Sims paid
the Edgefield & Kentucky Railroad $100,000 for locomotive A. G. Green.
He noted on the voucher that the locomotive's name had been changed
to James A. Seddon (the current Secretary of War). Green/Seddon's
details are: a 4x4x0 with 15"x24" cylinders and 48"
drivers. After this transaction, I have no further record of
locomotive James A. Seddon.
With the completion of the
Piedmont Railroad in June of 1864, the Piedmont/Richmond &
Danville line had been the primary supply line for Richmond. The need for
additional rolling stock on both roads was extreme. It is highly likely that the
Confederate government bought Green/Seddon to add capacity to the Richmond &
Danville section of this critical supply line.
Below is a post-war photo
of the locomotive that pulled Davis' train.
The photo is located in the Southern
Methodist University library's digital collections at http://digitalcollections.smu.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/civ&CISOPTR=268&CISOBOX=1&REC=17=
The SMU data for the photograph gives
the title as "Locomotive for train on which Jefferson Davis
fled from Richmond in April 1865", the photographer is unknown,
the date is listed as 1860-1865. The picture is from a 1921 print
from a glass plate
negative. Handwritten is "Jeff Davis engine
Another version of the same photograph
(though clearly doctored), on the same SMU site, has the following
information. Title: "Locomotive for train on which Jefferson
Davis fled from Richmond in April 1865." Alternate Title:
"Norfolk Western, Locomotive No. 14, "Sheldon."
Photographer is unknown, but a date of 1858 is given. It also states
that it is "Part of Rogers Locomotive & Machine Works
builders cards. Copy print made from original ca. 1910."
Handwritten: "Rogers Loco & Mach. Co. No. 833, Dec. 1858.
As Virginia & Tennessee "Tehauntepec" to Norfolk &
Western 14 "Sheldon" pulled the train on which Jefferson
Davis fled from Richmond in April 1865."
The researchers who located the photo,
and much of the material that follows (John Stewart and Jane
Singer), point out that the photo is found in various books, with the identification being
One book with the photo is Lance
Phillips' 1965 Yonder Comes the Train. The caption is:
"The little 4-4-0 that carried President Davis' train out of
Richmond on April 2, 1865. Built by Rogers Locomotive & Machine
Works, her cab panel carried the name Charles Seddon when delivered
to the Confederate government in 1864. A short time after this trip,
the engine was purchased by the Richmond & Danville, and
numbered 24 (later named to No. 14). The picture was made at the
roundhouse in Manchester, after she had been converted from a wood
burner to the use of coal (note pipe from sand dome in front of
first pair of drivers, also elaborate scroll work on bell
hanger)." The photo is credited to the Cook Collection at the
Valentine Museum in Richmond.
So, we have a bit of confusion:
Green/James A. Seddon, Tehauntepec/Charles Seddon, or Tehauntepec/Sheldon?
Rogers builder's data shows that the Green was
their number 883, except that they were not using numbers at that
time in the shop. The 883 comes only from the line in the record
book on which the locomotive order is entered. Also, the Green had
48" drivers, the Tehauntepec had 60" drivers and the
photos clearly show 48" drivers.
From the Virginia & Tennessee's
Records of Miles Run by Locomotive, it is clear that Tehauntepec ran
about the same number of miles, pulling passenger trains, in 1865 as
it did in the previous several years. It could have run some of
those miles on a different road, but the annual report makes no
mention of their locomotives running on other roads.
As noted above, Green had 48"
drivers (the large wheels near and under the cab) and by 1860,
almost all passenger trains were pulled by 60" driver equipped
locomotives; 48" and 54" were usually used for
freight service. But by this time in the war, roads could not be
picky -- they had to use whatever type was at hand and in running
order. The use of a 48" locomotive to pull Davis' train, in
this instance, does not present a problem to my mind. I suspect that
a desire to have a Rogers 60" locomotive pull the Davis train is
what got the Tehauntepec pulled into the discussion, but I see no
evidence that the Tehauntepec was in Richmond.
We know who James A. Seddon was; who
was Charles Seddon? Our research has not located any Charles Seddon
related to the Confederacy or to any of the railroads in Virginia or
Tennessee. And where did "Sheldon" come from? Again, no
results from our searches. Lacking any information on Charles Seddon
or Sheldon, it seems reasonable to assume that both are mistakes and
that James A. Seddon is the correct name.
Now, lets look at the history of the
In 1880, the famous photographer George
Smith Cook left Charleston and moved to Richmond. He owned a large
studio there and also accumulated photos, prints, negatives, etc.
from other Richmond photographers when they went out of business or
left town. He eventually built up a huge collection.
George's son, Huestis Pratt Cook, got
into the business with his father in 1891; when his father died, in
1902, Huestis took over the business.
Huestis died in 1951, leaving a widow
and an attic full of photographs, one of which was the negative
under glass of the photograph in question, complete with a description
in Huestis' hand. We do not know when the description was written,
but it refers to the locomotive as the Charles Seddon. This is the
description given in the many books with the Davis locomotive
identified. (The Tehuantepec identification has not been seen
anywhere except in the SMU collection.)
Around 1954, the Widow Cook sold the
entire collection to the Valentine Museum, where it remains. They
have the negative under glass and three prints from that negative,
all with descriptions that are pretty much the same, all from
Huestis' original description.
In 1968, Richmond Newspapers, Inc.
donated to the Valentine Museum a black and white picture -- the
one we are discussing. To add confusion, they called it the
Timberlake and said that it was an old Chesapeake & Ohio
Railroad locomotive. J. H. Timberlake was built in 1855 by Rogers,
Ketchum & Grosvenor, not by Rogers Locomotive & M. Works
(which is what appears on the emblem on the locomotive nose in our
Can we identify when and where the
photograph was made? Stewart and Singer have determined that it was
taken in early 1885 at the Tanner & Delaney works at Shockoe
Valley, later the Richmond Locomotive & Machine Works. We
know that the Richmond & Danville was converting all their
locomotives from wood to coal and the photograph is of a coal
burner. In 1884, the R&D started adding extension fronts to their
locomotives' boilers, and the
photograph has not had the extension added. Finally, the building in
the background was built in 1882.
To summarize, the photo above is an
1885 photo of the A. G. Green/James A. Seddon taken in Richmond
at the Tanner & Delaney Works. This is probably the
locomotive that pulled the train that carried Jefferson Davis out of
Richmond on April 2, 1865.
In January, 2015, John Stewart released
"Jefferson Davis' Flight from Richmond" a 300-page book,
published by McFarland, which includes the above findings. He and I
are in agreement on everything up to the last paragraph. At that
point, John states that the Richmond & Danville RR had numbered their
locomotives in 1864, so the James A. Seddon would have carried the
number 24 while evacuating Davis. However, this cannot be, since the
Richmond & Danville RR 1864 Annual Report lists the locomotives by
both name number and the James A. Seddon is not listed -- because it
was still a Confederate Government locomotive. The October 1865 Annual
locomotives by number only, 1 through 22. The text says that 5
locomotives were being bought from the U. S. Government and that locomotives leased from the
Memphis & Ohio RR and other locomotives owned by the C. S. Government were
still operating on the road. I suspect that the James A. Seddon became number 24 when the
former Confederate Government locomotives were seized by the U. S.
Government and then sold to the Richmond & Danville RR (about