1st Corps Army of Northern Virginia - On To Chickamauga

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DaveBrt

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An excellent article from militaryhistoryonline.com about the rail transfer of 1st Corps troops from Virginia to Chickamauga in 1863.

http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/civilwar/articles/confederaterailroad.aspx
As usual, the story has little about the actual move, and what it has is frequently wrong or made to appear to be a problem when it was not.
Examples: he lists the types of cars used in the move as if the use of those types indicated a problem with the move -- but only the coal cars would not have been used, even in a US transfer; he states the railroads in Augusta did not meet and the troops had to march through town when in fact the gap was closed by Pemberton in 1862; he states that Southern railroads had to go slow because they were mostly strap rail, while the Northern railroads were 65 lb T-rail, though the truth is that only a couple of Southern railroads (none used in the transfer) still used strap iron; etc, etc.
 
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As usual, the story has little about the actual move, and what it has is frequently wrong or made to appear to be a problem when it was not.
Examples: he lists the types of cars used in the move as if the use of those types indicated a problem with the move -- but only the coal cars would not have been used, even in a US transfer; he states the railroads in Augusta did not meet and the troops had to march through town when in fact the gap was closed by Pemberton in 1862; he states that Southern railroads had to go slow because they were mostly strap rail, while the Northern railroads were 65 lb T-rail, though the truth is that only a couple of Southern railroads (none used in the transfer) still used strap iron; etc, etc.
I just re-read the article. I believe, Dave, that you are right on the money.
 
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AUG

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John Coxe in the 2nd South Carolina, Kershaw's Brigade, left a good account of the train ride in his article on Chickamauga in the Confederate Veteran:

One day, about the middle of September, we got orders to cook rations and get ready to march. The next morning we started, and at night bivouacked near Richmond. The next day we promptly boarded trains and went south. Our division, under McLaws, and Hood's Division, all under Longstreet, went on this lively excursion. It was whispered that we were going to help Bragg out at Chattanooga, where he was being pressed by Rosecrans. Hood's Division went ahead of ours. Our own brigade, under the ever-smiling and good-natured Kershaw, went via Petersburg, Weldon, Wilmington, Florence, Charleston, Savannah, Millen, Macon, and Atlanta. Some of the other units of the expedition went different routes. We stopped two hours at Wilmington, near the crossing of the Cape Fear, which was then by steam ferry. We could see only part of the town, but we had a good view up the river, and it was very enchanting in the rays of the near-setting sun. But my most thrilling thoughts traveled farther up the Cape Fear to Fayetteville, where lived one I knew, alas, too well.

It was dark when we crossed the river and entrained on the other side. Soon after getting under way, bad luck overtook us. The engine drawing our train was in bad order, and slow progress and many stops to allow the engineer to "tinker" with his machine greatly delayed us. One long stop was made in front of a large turpentine distillery, not then in operation. Hundreds of barrels of resin were stacked up, and turpentine covered the ground in many places. It was quite cold, and some of the men set fire to a few barrels of resin. Soon the fire spread and couldn't be controlled. General Kershaw delivered a lecture in which he enjoined the men in future to be more careful of the preservation of private property. As our train started ahead, the fire reached the distillery and buildings, and doubtless all were completely consumed.

The next morning we found that we had progressed only forty miles during the entire night. About ten A.M. our engineer side-tracked the train and the conductor telegraphed to Florence, S. C, for another engine, which arrived in the middle of the afternoon. But, dear me! Our new machine seemed in worse condition than that hooked to our train. It was old, wheezy, and leaked steam in many places, while the water gushed from the tender in several streams. We laughed, but had little hope of better conditions. However, that old rattletrap of an engine surprised us in its ability to move that train. Pulling out of the siding slowly, it struck the main track with a blatant snort and then astonished us by the high speed it made, stopping only, but a little frequently, for water. We got to Florence long before night, but didn't get off for Charleston till some time during the night. In those days you had to change cars at the end of each company's line. I recall Florence, S. C, of that day as a pretty little town in the piney woods.

We got to Charleston at 11 a.m., and the first thing we heard after the noise of our train stopped was the booming of great guns in the harbor and on the islands near by. The siege of Charleston was then in full swing. From the depot we marched through the upper part of the city and over the Ashley River, stopping in a pine grove near the water and the Savannah railroad. Here we rested about an hour, looking at the old city and the harbor. Our train being ready, we got aboard and were off through the rice fields for Savannah. I recollect one stop at "Poke-He-Tail-He-Go," and we got to Savannah at 4 p.m. Our train on the Georgia Central being already made up and ready, we got on and started for Macon. The track of this road was straight as a shingle, and I recall only one turn in it before night came on. The cars were good, and our train went on at a high rate of speed through a beautiful country of fine old homes and numerous herds and flocks of of fat cattle and sheep. Somebody said it was ten p.m. when our train got to Millen, which was a junction. Here we detrained for supper; yes, supper! For immediately we were marched into a large, airy dining hall especially fitted up for just such hungry chaps as we. And such service and victuals we found in there! All things good to eat seemed to be there in great plenty, and at first some of us wondered whether we were still in our own beloved South. Turkey, chicken, hot biscuits, coffee, sweet potato pies and puddings, fine corn bread, baked pork, and ever so many other good things. And then, perhaps the best of all to at least many of us was the galaxy of fine and beautiful young Southern women who served us. At this interval of time, I recollect the name of only one, and her name was "Miss Mattie Wooding." She was just lovely in every way one could think of. She was blonde, had a charming form, a pretty mouth and teeth, a touching smile, large, laughing blue eyes, and, withal, an alluring personality that attracted one's attention as long as she was in sight. Where, O where, is that Miss Mattie Wooding now?

Resuming our journey at a late hour, we got to Macon next morning and at once started on to Atlanta, where we arrived about noon. We found a railroad congestion there in consequence of a block of troops and freight on the Western and Atlantic Railroad, then the only direct line open to Chattanooga and Bragg's army. A train was made up for us and we got aboard, but didn't start till 9 p.m. But here occurred more engine trouble. Our little engine, named "Kentucky," was too light for the weight of our train and had much difficulty climbing grades. I went to sleep, but was waked up a little before daylight by the noise of the "Kentucky" trying to "puff up" the grade of Allatoona Mountain. She made three efforts before she made it up to the station at the top by daylight. We ran to Cartersville, and stopped two hours to allow our engineer to work on the cylinders of the engine. Apparently he made a good job of it, because we ran on without farther hitch till we got to Dalton, Ga., about the middle of that cold and dreary afternoon. And here we found a complete tie up. There were many trains there, and every piece of siding was jammed with them. On account of burned bridges, trains could run only twelve miles farther, and though there was a large railroad water tank at Dalton, yet there was no water for the engines, and the tender of our engine was nearly empty. It was said that the pump of the tank was broken. There was great confusion, engineers, conductors, fireman, and many army officers and soldiers making all sorts of suggestions for relieving the situation, but no relief came. The weather was windy and cold. At last, toward night, General Kershaw took the matter in hand so far as our train was concerned. Procuring about twenty water buckets from somewhere, he ordered our train forward to a creek about two miles distant. Here a bucket squad from water to tender was formed. This was in the nature of an endless chain, and after an hour's such work, the tank of our tender was supplied sufficiently for all present needs. And then our train proceeded to the burned bridge over the east branch of the Chickamauga River, where it stopped about 11 p.m. in a cornfield. Most of us were asleep when the order to disembark was shouted through the freight "coaches" and waked us up. We got off on the right and saw across the field a large clump of timber, about a quarter of a mile away, and we were at once ordered to march over there and build up fires, for the night air was frosty.

https://archive.org/stream/confederateveter301922#page/290/mode/2up
 
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AUG

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Checked through some of the First Corps memoirs I have bookmarked. Here are a few more accounts of the ride.


D. Augustus Dickert, 3rd South Carolina, Kershaw's Brigade:

The most direct route by railroad to Chattanooga, through Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee, had for some time been in the hands of the enemy at Knoxville. We were, therefore, forced to take the circuitous route by way of the two Carolinas and Georgia. There were two roads open to transportation, one by Wilmington and one by Charlotte, N. C., as far as Augusta, Ga., but from thence on there was but a single line, and as such our transit was greatly impeded.

On the morning of the 15th or 16th of September Kershaw's Brigade was put aboard the trains at White Oak Station, and commenced the long ride to North Georgia. Hood's Division was already on the way. Jenkins' (S. C.) Brigade had been assigned to that division, but it and one of the other of Hood's brigades failed to reach the battleground in time to participate in the glories of that event. General McLaws, also, with two of his brigades, Bryan's and Wofford's (Georgians), missed the fight, the former awaiting the movements of his last troops, as well as that of the artillery.

Long trains of box cars had been ordered up from Richmond and the troops were loaded by one company being put inside and the next on top, so one-half of the corps made the long four days' journey on the top of box cars. The cars on all railroads in which troops were transported were little more than skeleton cars; the weather being warm, the troops cut all but the frame work loose with knives and axes. They furthermore wished to see outside and witness the fine country and delightful scenery that lay along the route; nor could those inside bear the idea of being shut up in a box car while their comrades on top were cheering and yelling themselves hoarse at the waving of handkerchiefs and flags in the hands of the pretty women and the hats thrown in the air by the old men and boys along the roadside the trains sped through the towns, villages, and hamlets of the Carolinas and Georgia. No, no; the exuberant spirits of the Southern soldier were too great to allow him to hear yelling going on and not yell himself. He yelled at everything he saw, from an ox-cart to a pretty woman, a downfall of a luckless cavalryman to a charge in battle.

The news of our coming had preceded us, and at every station and road-crossing the people of the surrounding country, without regard to sex or age, crowded to see us pass, and gave us their blessings and God speed as we swept by with lightning speed. Our whole trip was one grand ovation. Old men slapped their hands in praise, boys threw up their hats in joy, while the ladies fanned the breeze with their flags and handkerchiefs; yet many a mother dropped a silent tear or felt a heart-ache as she saw her long absent soldier boy flying pass without a word or a kiss.
(History of Kershaw's Brigade)

Frank M. Mixson, Hagood's 1st South Carolina, Jenkins' Brigade:

Jenkins' Brigade had been at Petersburg for some time after coming up from around Suffolk on the Blackwater and elsewhere down in that section, when we received orders to prepare to load and ship for the West with the balance of Longstreet's corps. Our brigade, however, was the last to be loaded and shipped, and we finally went to the depot and were loaded on freight boxes, inside and outside, the top being as much crowded as the inside. The trains those days did not make as good time as today, and, while I do not recollect how slowly we did run, I do recollect that when our regiment (the First South Carolina Volunteers) reached Bamberg and found the little town all lit up with bonfires and tables spread and the whole country — men, women and children — with baskets of cold chicken, rice pilau, biscuits, hams, boiled eggs, fried ham, salads and everything else that women can get up in a country of plenty, awaiting us and greeting us (the regiment) as if we were all their brothers; it made us feel good; and then Col. Kilpatrick, who was in charge of this train, held it for about an hour to give us time to do justice to what was tendered us.

Here it was that many an old fellow met his people for the first time since he had left them; even some here met their wives and children for the first, time, and here I met one of my sisters who was visiting in the neighborhood. I had not seen any of them since I first went. You may talk of courage and a sense of duty, but when a man pulls up at a station at 1 o'clock at night, finds there his wife and children whom he has not seen for two years, and after about one hour to see them, to be caressed by them, to be allowed to talk with them, then to be hauled off on a freight car — perhaps the only place for him on top — that is manhood. But this occurred in Bamberg, not in one case only, but in many — they were men in those days.

We passed through Denmark (then Graham's Turn Out), Lees, Blackville, Elko, Williston and White Pond. At each place some member of the regiment had loving friends and families, but no stop-over was allowed, and these old soldiers passed by their homes, outwardly showing cheerfulness, but one could discover their eyes were dim. We stopped over a couple of hours in Augusta, where we were transferred to the Georgia Road. We arrived in Atlanta early next morning and thence direct on to Chattanooga. It was right cold riding in and on top of freight boxes, so after leaving Atlanta we gathered some sand while the train was stopped and put it on the floor of the car, and on top, too, and that evening between sundown and dark we passed through Marietta with fires in and on top, cooking supper. We even spread down our beds on top of these trains and went regularly to bed. We reached the nearest station to Chickamauga that was in our possession, and were immediately unloaded and ordered in a double quick for the battlefield. The fight had been going on since early the day before and Longstreet's corps had reached there to be in time, with the exception of our brigade.
(Reminiscences of a Private)

J. M. Polk, 4th Texas, Texas Brigade:

We passed through Hagerstown between midnight and day, crossed the Potomac and went down through Virginia to Richmond; there we shipped for Bragg's army. We stopped at Welldon, N. C., which is a junction of railroads; here there were a lot of North Carolina men on another train going south. There must have been a thousand barrels of resin on the ground, and we began to throw resin at the tar-heels. One of them asked: "Have you got any good tobacco?" "No," we replied, "but we have one of the best chaws of resin you ever saw." About that time we could hear their guns click-click-click. It was all the officers could do to stop it; if they hadn't intervened there would have been boodshed right there. We started west and traveled north through North Carolina. The train was heavily loaded and we traveled slow. Some of us were on top of the cars; one fellow playing a fiddle; another fellow down in the car blowing a horn, all happy lords, yet knowing at the same time that we were going right into another big killing and that many of us would go to our long homes. We traveled to Atlanta, Ga., and then to a point near Dalton.
(The Confederate Soldier; and Ten Years in South America)​
 
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