OR, Series 3, Vol. 5, Page 974

{Union correspondence from May 1, 1865 to the End. Though post-war and written by Union officers, there are many facts that assist in understanding the Confederate railroads. Note that track laid, siding's length, type of bridges constructed, etc. are by the Union Army and do not necessarily represent what the Confederate railroads had at the same location.}
Office Director and General Manager Military Railroads United States
Washington, D. C., May 26, 1866
Bvt. Maj. Gen. M. C. Meigs
Quartermaster-General U. S. Army
Washington, D. C.
   I have the honor to submit the following report upon the military railroads of the United States under my charge during the war:
   In March, 1862, Major-General McClellan instructed me to have a line examined for a railroad from Winchester -- the terminus of the Harper's Ferry and Winchester Railroad {Winchester & Potomac RR} to Strasburg, a station of the Manassas Gap Railroad, in the Shenandoah Valley, and to make an estimate of the cost. This was completed early in April, but the railroad was not built. March 14, 1862, General McClellan instructed me to have five locomotives and eighty cars loaded upon vessels in the harbor of Baltimore and held subject to his orders with a view to using them in his contemplated Peninsular campaign. They were purchased from Northern railroad companies, loaded as directed, and remained on the vessels until early in May, when they were sent to White House, Va., and placed upon the Richmond & York River Railroad. another engine was added in June to the number, and all employed in transporting supplies between White House and the front, which, toward the close of June, was twenty miles from White House and four miles from Richmond. Upon the withdrawal of the Army of the Potomac to Harrison's Landing, June 28, all the rolling-stock was destroyed or damaged as far as practicable to prevent it from falling into the hands of the enemy.
   Near the close of March, 1862, the Orange & Alexandria Railroad was opened to Manassas Junction, twenty-six miles from Alexandria, and in April to Warrenton Junction, thirty-nine miles. In August, after relaying six miles of track and bridging Rappahannock River, the road was open to Culpeper, sixty-one miles, which at the time was the main depot of supplies for the Army of Virginia. A few trains were run to the Rapidan River, eighty miles. Upon the retreat of General Pope in the last days of August the road was entirely abandoned, with the loss of 7 locomotives and 295 cars. In November it was reopened for a few days to Bealeton, forty-six miles, and to the town of Warrenton, to supply the Army of the Potomac on its march from Antietam to Fredericksburg.
   The Manassas Gap Railroad was opened early in April, 1862, to Strasburg, sixty-one miles from Manassas and eighty-seven miles from Alexandria. It was operated only a short time to Strasburg, but continued in use to Front Royal, fifty-one miles from Manassas, through May and part of June, when it was abandoned. In November, 1862, trains were run over it to Front Royal for a few days with supplies for General McClellan's army.
   The Alexandria, Loudoun & Hampshire Railroad was opened in the spring of 1862 to Vienna, fifteen miles from Alexandria, and used for transporting supplies to the fortifications south of Washington and the camps along its line. During the first two weeks of September it was the principal line of supply for the Army of the Potomac when encamped near Washington after the second battle of Bull Run and previous to the Antietam campaign.
   These four railroads comprise all that were operated as military lines from Alexandria and Washington. They were subsequently used more or less at various times, as will be mentioned hereafter, and continued to play an important part in the operations of the Army of the Potomac.
   In April, the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad was opened from Aquia Creek to Fredericksburg, fifteen miles, and operated to supply the forces stationed at Fredericksburg. The road was abandoned September 7, with the loss of one engine, fifty-seven cars, and a small quantity of material.
   On the 18th of November repairs were again commenced, and the road was opened on the 28th to Falmouth, opposite Fredericksburg, and was used to supply the Army of the Potomac until June, 1863. A very large amount of work was required not only to the railroad, but to the wharves at Aquia Creek, all of which had been burned when this line was abandoned by our forces.
   ***** The road continued to be used without interruption until June, 1863, when it was abandoned with small loss of material, but the bridges, buildings, and wharves were soon afterward burned by the enemy.
   The eastern portion of the Norfolk & Petersburg Railroad was taken in charge July 22, 1862, and the gauge at once changed from five feet to four feet eight and one-half inches for forty-four miles. At Suffolk, twenty-three miles from Norfolk, this line crosses the Seaboard & Roanoke Railroad running from Portsmouth, opposite Norfolk. A connecting track was laid between the two roads in August, 1862, and these lines were afterward operated together.
   In May, 1863, about fifteen miles of track was taken up on the Norfolk & Petersburg Railroad west of Suffolk by order of Major-General Dix, and about the same length on the Seaboard & Roanoke. The two roads were afterward operated to Suffolk until the close of the war, for local military purposes, and were not identified with any of the great military operations or campaigns. *****
   In April, 1863, the Orange & Alexandria Railroad was opened to Bealeton and used a few days to supply a force on the Rappahannock. The portion south of Bull Run was then abandoned, and about the 15th of June the whole road outside the defenses of Washington was evacuated.
   July 18 repairs were recommenced and continued till the road was opened to Culpeper. Not having been much damaged by the enemy, the amount of work, necessary to put it in running order was small. It was used until the 1st of October to supply the army of General Made after its return to Virginia from the Gettysburg campaign.
   Early in October it was again abandoned south of Bull Run, and was thoroughly destroyed by the enemy from Manassas junction nearly to Brandy Station, about twenty-two miles. Repairs were commenced October 23, and the damaged road opened October 30 to Warrenton Junction, eleven miles, and to Culpeper November 16, to which point it was operated during the winter and until the final advance under Lieutenant-General Grant of the Army of the Potomac May 4, 1864, when it was abandoned beyond Burke's Station, fourteen miles from Alexandria.
   Rappahannock River bridge, 625 feet long and 35 feet high, was rebuilt in nineteen working hours. The Army of the Potomac remained in winter quarters on the south side of the Rappahannock and received all its supplies for men and animals during the winter and spring over this single-track road.
   The Manassas Gap Railroad was reopened to White Plains, twenty-three miles from Manassas, in August, 1863, and used for a few days to deliver supplies for General Meade's army on the march from Gettysburg to Culpeper.
   As the war progressed the nature, capacity, and value of railroads were better understood on both sides, and more systematic and determined efforts were made by the enemy against the lines used for transporting supplies to our armies. The destruction of track and bridges was greater each subsequent time the roads passed within their military lines, and it became apparent that extraordinary preparations must be made to meet it. Early in 1863 a small construction corps was formed, consisting of about 300 men, in which was the beginning of an organization afterward numbering in the East and West nearly 10,000. *****
   With the opening of the campaign in Virginia in May, 1864, under Lieutenant-General Grant, the Alexandria railroads ceased to bear any important part. The Orange & Alexandria line was opened to Rappahannock River, fifty miles, between September 28 and October 2, 1864, but at once abandoned back to Manassas. It was operated to that station until November 10, when it was abandoned back to Fairfax, sixteen miles from Alexandria. It was operated for that distance until the close of the war, *****
   The Manassas Gap Railroad was opened from Manassas to Piedmont, thirty-four miles, between October 3 and 11, and operated until October 27, 1864. Between that date and November 10 the rails were taken up between the above-named stations and carried to Alexandria.
   On the 9th of May, 1864, repairs were again commenced on the railroad at Aquia Creek, and it was opened to Falmouth, fourteen miles, May 17. Potomac Creek bridge, seven miles from Aquia, 414 feet long and 82 feet high, was built ready for trains to pass in forty working hours. The road was operated until May 22 principally for removing the wounded of the battles at Spotsylvania Court-House. On that day it was abandoned and not afterward used as a military line.
   The Richmond & York River Railroad was opened about the 1stof June from White House to Dispatch, fourteen miles, and operated until June 10, when it was finally abandoned, the track taken up by order of Lieutenant-General Grant, and the materials removed to Alexandria.
   Rolling-stock for the Aquia Creek and York River Railroad was sent from Alexandria on barges prepared with tracks for the purpose and taken away in the same manner, without loss or injury, when the roads were abandoned.
   Near the close of June, 1864, the City Point and Petersburg Railroad {the eastern end of the South Side RR} was occupied to Pitkin Station, eight miles from City Point. *****
   The Winchester & Potomac Railroad was repaired from Harper's Ferry to Halltown, six miles, between August 14 and 19, 1864; to Stephenson's, twenty-eight miles, between November 2 and 24, and was used to supply the army of General Sheridan, operating in the Valley of Virginia. The iron used in the reconstruction of this line was principally that taken from the Manassas Gap Railroad. The bridges were all rebuilt. *****

   Locomotive engines provided and lost

Year Procured Lost
Purchased Built Captured Total Lost in service or transit
1862 48 1 5 54 2 *
1863 18 18
Total 66 1 5 72 2 *

* The number Lost should be 12, not 2 -- 6 on the Peninsula, 5 at 2nd Manassas and 1 at Fredericksburg


Cars provided and lost

Year Procured Lost
Purchased Built Captured Total Lost in service or transit
1862 503 13 516 458
1863 704 704 15
1864 68 30 98 57
1865 415 415 20
Total 1,690 30 13 1,733 550

Railroads in Western Tennessee and Kentucky

   No part of the road was in operation from Memphis when I took charge, but during the years 1864 and 1865 the western portion of the Memphis & Charleston Railroad and a part of the Mississippi Central were operated as follows:
Date How operated Length
1864 Miles
Feb. 26   Opened to Germantown 15
Mar. 26   Abandoned back to within five miles of Memphis
June 11   Opened to White's Station 10
29   Opened to Grand Junction 52
Aug. 2   Opened to Holly Springs 75
6   Opened to Tallahatchie River 100
18   Abandoned to Grand Junction 52
23   Reopened to Tallahatchie River 100
24   Abandoned to Grand Junction 52
Sept. 8   Abandoned to White's Station 10
Oct. 15   Abandoned entirely
Dec. 20   Opened to Collierville 24


Jan. 1   Abandoned entirely
Feb. 28   Opened to Germantown 15
Mar. 4   Abandoned entirely
24   Opened to Collierville 24
Apr. 2   Opened to La Fayette 32
May 13   Opened to Moscow 39
14   Opened to La Grange 49
20   Opened to Grand Junction 52
   Each time it was abandoned it was badly damaged by the enemy -- bridges, trestles, and cattle guards were burned and miles of track torn up.
   At Columbus, Ky., I found the Mobile & Ohio Railroad open to Union City, Twenty-six miles. It was abandoned about the 1st of May, 1864, at the time of Forrest's raid upon Union City, and not afterward used, except in the immediate vicinity of Columbus, until May, 1865. *****


   The Memphis & Little Rock Railroad between Devall's Bluff and Little Rock, forty-nine miles, was the only line operated in this state. It did not come under my control until May 1, 1865. It was then in very bad condition, in consequence of the nature of the soil and neglect or want of skill in keeping up the necessary repairs.

Locomotive engines provided and lost

Year Locomotives procured Lost
Purchased Captured Total Lost in service or transit
1862 18 35 53
1863 20 14 34
1864 154 17 171 2
Total 194 66 260 2

Cars procured and lost

Year Cars procured Lost
Purchased Captured Total Lost in service or transit
On hand February 1, 1864 755
1864 1,081 1,081 160
1865 1,522 25 1,547 243
Total 2,603 25 3,383 403

North Carolina and Atlantic Coast

   Eleven miles of the Savannah & Gulf Railroad were opened and operated with rolling-stock captured at Savannah for local military purposes and to supply the citizens of the town with fuel. The tracks and buildings of the Georgia Central Railroad within the city limits also were used. Five serviceable and 9 unserviceable locomotives and 213 cars, about one-half of them damaged and unfit for service, were captured at Savannah. *****

Cars provided and lost

Year Cars procured Lost
Purchased Captured Total Lost in service or transit
1862 100 3 103 20
1863 38
1865 139 180 319 1
Total 239 183 422 59
   I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
D. C. McCallum
Brevet Brigadier-General, Director and General Manager U. S. Military Railroads