NP, RD 4/19/1864

From the Richmond Dispatch
April 19, 1864
Southern energy
   It is not only the Yankees who show energy in building and rebuilding railroads. The great feat claimed by the Yankees to have been accomplished by Sherman, was the "complete and entire" destruction of the railroads on his route. The Wilmington (N C) Journal says:
   Gen. Sherman's army destroyed the bridges, culverts, warehouses, water stations and turn-tables on 48 miles of the Mobile & Ohio railroad, and within this distance tore up 21 miles of the track, on 16 miles of which there was nothing of cross ties left but the ashes; and the heavy rails of which that road is built, for the whole distance of 16 miles, were bent in every conceivable shape. --There were two heavy bridges over rivers nearly as large as the Neuse at the crossing of the Wilmington & Weldon railroad, one smaller one, three quarters of a mile of trestle, besides 43 small or pieces and wooden culverts. He tore up the track and burned the trestle work (of which there was very little, and no important bridge) on 9 miles of the Selma road {the Northeast & Southwest Alabama RR}, which being built with a light rail is more easily straightened than the heavy rails used on the Mobile & Ohio road.
   On the Southern (Vicksburg) {of Mississippi RR} road, he tore up about three miles of track, and burned a few bridges, and but little trestle work. That road is not materially damaged.
   Gen. Sherman's great object seemed to be to destroy the Mobile & Ohio railroad, and Col Fleming, the Engineer and Superintendent, was equally anxious to repair it in the shortest possible time. The larger portion of the railroad hands had fled in every direction on the approach of Gen Sherman's army, and another part on the appearance of Gens Smith and Grierson. The difficulties encountered in collecting hands in a country so completely desolated by the enemy will be easily understood.--Notwithstanding this an engine was run over the road Sherman had destroyed in 29 days after the work was commenced, or in 33 days after Sherman's army left Meridian--and four days of the above time was lost by heavy rains so that the work was actually accomplished in 25 working days; and, in fact, the Mobile & Ohio road was in working order four days before the Selma road was ready to connect with it. As late as last week the Southern road was not yet in running order.
   In addition to the destruction effected by Sherman's Army Gens Smith and Grierson passed over thirty-two miles of the Mobile & Ohio road on the prairies, destroying all culverts, warehouses, and water stations. They also tore up the track at intervals and bent the rails. On this part of the road there is no timber, or if any could be obtained it could not be hauled except by railroads, and consequently it was necessary to finish the work below before anything could be done towards repairing it. And, to make the matter worse, our own forces burned the bridge over Tibbie river, one of the heaviest on the road, and a fresher occurred two days after the rebuilding of the bridge was commenced, which has delayed operations a full week. However, the whole work will be completed, notwithstanding these delays and mishaps, in six weeks from the day the axe was struck in the first tree. Our informant says that the people out there consider it rapid work repairing eighty miles of railroad, on which, according to General Sherman, "the destruction was very complete," in six weeks, and we agree with them. The passenger trains are running with as much regularity over Gen. Sherman's work as they did before his appearance.