Looking for a 9th Ala. Inf. Diary

Lisa Murphy

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Feb 16, 2019
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Yes, I have found this one, but the issue is not the number of troops in the area, but how many were devoted to the RR construction. My guess is maybe 5,000. The main hindrances to using 50,000 or some such number is that there were very few tools for them to use -- the number of times armies or railroads called for hundred of axes, or spades, or shovels is truly astounding -- the engineers ordered thousands from Europe to help meet the constant demand. So, early in the war, I cannot see this army having enough tools to keep a large force at work. The job was easy -- grade 6 miles, build one small bridge, cut and lay cross ties, and lay the track. Many railroads were able to lay a mile of track a day, after the grading was done.

Unfortunately, just because a private mentions a number in his diary, it has become "fact."
Found these two resources...Ohio State University E-history site (link)
  • Hobbs, Thomas Hubbard. The journals of Thomas Hubbard Hobbs : a contemporary record of an aristocrat from Athens, Alabama, written between 1840, when the diarist was fourteen years old, and 1862, when he died serving the Confederate States of America.Ed. by Faye Acton Axford. University : University of Alabama Press, c1976.
  • Parker, Price. From Alabama to Appomattox : History of the 9th Infantry; Pictures, Complete Muster Roll. Athens, AL : Athens News Courier, 1960 (reissued, 1969) [available at the following libraries: Auburn University; Samford University; University of Alabama; and University of North Alabama]
Both Hobbs and Parker were in the 9th Alabama. Perhaps they'll mention the railroad work?
 

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Lisa Murphy

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Feb 16, 2019
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Yes, I have found this one, but the issue is not the number of troops in the area, but how many were devoted to the RR construction. My guess is maybe 5,000. The main hindrances to using 50,000 or some such number is that there were very few tools for them to use -- the number of times armies or railroads called for hundred of axes, or spades, or shovels is truly astounding -- the engineers ordered thousands from Europe to help meet the constant demand. So, early in the war, I cannot see this army having enough tools to keep a large force at work. The job was easy -- grade 6 miles, build one small bridge, cut and lay cross ties, and lay the track. Many railroads were able to lay a mile of track a day, after the grading was done.

Unfortunately, just because a private mentions a number in his diary, it has become "fact."
And another possible resource from a German website listing info/resources RE: the 9th Alabama.

- Barret, John G., ed. Yankee Rebel: The Civil War Journal of Edmund DeWitt Patterson (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1966)

from https://www.eberhard-ref.net/american-civil-war-bürgerkrieg/regimentsgeschichte-südstaaten/alabama/
Gutte Arbeit, nicht war?
 

DaveBrt

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And another possible resource from a German website listing info/resources RE: the 9th Alabama.

- Barret, John G., ed. Yankee Rebel: The Civil War Journal of Edmund DeWitt Patterson (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1966)

from https://www.eberhard-ref.net/american-civil-war-bürgerkrieg/regimentsgeschichte-südstaaten/alabama/
Gutte Arbeit, nicht war?
Thanks Lisa. The first two I will have to try to find. The third one had enough on Google Books that I can rule it out.
 

DaveBrt

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Found these two resources...Ohio State University E-history site (link)
  • Hobbs, Thomas Hubbard. The journals of Thomas Hubbard Hobbs : a contemporary record of an aristocrat from Athens, Alabama, written between 1840, when the diarist was fourteen years old, and 1862, when he died serving the Confederate States of America.Ed. by Faye Acton Axford. University : University of Alabama Press, c1976.
  • Parker, Price. From Alabama to Appomattox : History of the 9th Infantry; Pictures, Complete Muster Roll. Athens, AL : Athens News Courier, 1960 (reissued, 1969) [available at the following libraries: Auburn University; Samford University; University of Alabama; and University of North Alabama]
Both Hobbs and Parker were in the 9th Alabama. Perhaps they'll mention the railroad work?
Good luck -- the Hobbs book is held in a small college only 15 miles away!
 

Lisa Murphy

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Feb 16, 2019
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There is no way the used 50k troops on that RR.
Bet you're right.

Yet you know how it is ... once in research mode, only the real answer to the question will satisfy. How many troops were working on that railroad?? Curious minds want to know. Somewhere, someone has the answer, probably hidden in some obscure archive: a major's report, a field surgeon's summary of troops ready for duty, a general's complaint about the lack of shovels and picks...

Would be fun to place bets, see who is the closest when Dave finally finds the answer.
Dave said 5,000.
Just for fun, I'll say 6,000
What's your best guess?
 

Lisa Murphy

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I'll say 5,500
Hey, it's a bet! Can't bet for money of course, but there is always bragging rights. And boy, will we be bragging!
You're on, General. Now we've got to find this info. I'l put my mind to figuring where else it might be.
 

General Casey

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Well you could look at all the regiments in the area, then pull all the muster rolls and service records and see if there are any notes in the service records or muster rolls on soldiers who were detached to work on it. I'm going to probably assume that many of those who did work on it probably did work on it once or twice. It may have been something as informal as these companies from this regiment works this day and these companies from this regiment works the next day and so on and so on.
 

Lisa Murphy

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145
Good luck -- the Hobbs book is held in a small college only 15 miles away!
Dave, I asked a reference Librarian at our King County Library to help. This was her (his?) response:

Hi Lisa,

I am unable to find a definitive answer to your question. The King County Library System doesn't have any books on this topic.

What I did find shows conflicting information.

This website, http://thenewoanda.weebly.com/centerville-military-railroad
.html
states "Private McClellan of the 9th Alabama Infantry Regiment commented in his diary on November 23 that 50,000 men were working on a six mile railroad in shifts of six hours per day, causing them to have no time for working on winter huts. By November 30, 1861 newspaper articles reported two months would be necessary to build the planned railroad."

The above website also said "A deserter from the 6th Louisiana Infantry, who left Centreville on January 7, 1862 reported that 300 men were working on the railroad project. The Pinkerton National Detective Agency http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinkerton_National_Detective_A
gency
confirmed on January 27, 1862, based on the report of a deserter that the railroad construction was in progress."

This historynet https://www.historynet.com/worlds-first-military-railroad.h
tm
site says "Johnston and Barbour decided to construct a railroad spur line connecting Manassas Junction and Centreville to ease the problems of supply. Labor for surveying and constructing the new railway was obtained by advertising for skilled workers in the Richmond newspapers and by using slaves from nearby plantations or those actually owned by existing railroads."

And "Railroad from Manassas to Centreville progressing; 300 miners’ at work on it. Provisions plenty.” The report of this interview, published in the Official Records, reveals that the Federals were aware of the railroad’s existence before construction was completed."

While both websites mention 300 men working on the railroad, one also mentioned 50,000 soldiers were constructing the Centreville Military Railroad.

I searched Worldcat, the World's Largest Library Catalog, and only found one article specifically on this topic. The world's first military railroad : to feed its hungry soldiers, the Confederacy constructed a railway with material captured by Stonewall Jackson. Civil War times illustrated. vol. 49, no. 3 (June 2010), p. [36]-43. If you wish to request this article, you can do so through our Interlibrary Loan form here. https://kcls.org/interlibrary-loan/

If you'd like to pursue your research, you might try contacting one or more of the following organizations:

Library of Congress Civil War Collection https://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/civwar/ https://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/civwar/ The Library of Congress also has an Ask a Librarian function that you can contact: https://www.loc.gov/rr/askalib/ https://www.loc.gov/rr/askalib/

Society of Civil War Historians https://www.historians.org/about-aha-and-membership/affiliated-societies/society-of-civil-war-historians https://www.historians.org/about-aha-and-membership/affilia
ted-societies/society-of-civil-war-historians


The Fairfax Historical Society http://www.fairfaxhistoricalsociety.org/ http://www.fairfaxhistoricalsociety.org/

Hope this helps,
Best, Lisa
 

DaveBrt

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Location
Charlotte, NC
Dave, I asked a reference Librarian at our King County Library to help. This was her (his?) response:

Hi Lisa,

I am unable to find a definitive answer to your question. The King County Library System doesn't have any books on this topic.

What I did find shows conflicting information.

This website, http://thenewoanda.weebly.com/centerville-military-railroad
.html
states "Private McClellan of the 9th Alabama Infantry Regiment commented in his diary on November 23 that 50,000 men were working on a six mile railroad in shifts of six hours per day, causing them to have no time for working on winter huts. By November 30, 1861 newspaper articles reported two months would be necessary to build the planned railroad."

The above website also said "A deserter from the 6th Louisiana Infantry, who left Centreville on January 7, 1862 reported that 300 men were working on the railroad project. The Pinkerton National Detective Agency http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinkerton_National_Detective_A
gency
confirmed on January 27, 1862, based on the report of a deserter that the railroad construction was in progress."

This historynet https://www.historynet.com/worlds-first-military-railroad.h
tm
site says "Johnston and Barbour decided to construct a railroad spur line connecting Manassas Junction and Centreville to ease the problems of supply. Labor for surveying and constructing the new railway was obtained by advertising for skilled workers in the Richmond newspapers and by using slaves from nearby plantations or those actually owned by existing railroads."

And "Railroad from Manassas to Centreville progressing; 300 miners’ at work on it. Provisions plenty.” The report of this interview, published in the Official Records, reveals that the Federals were aware of the railroad’s existence before construction was completed."

While both websites mention 300 men working on the railroad, one also mentioned 50,000 soldiers were constructing the Centreville Military Railroad.

I searched Worldcat, the World's Largest Library Catalog, and only found one article specifically on this topic. The world's first military railroad : to feed its hungry soldiers, the Confederacy constructed a railway with material captured by Stonewall Jackson. Civil War times illustrated. vol. 49, no. 3 (June 2010), p. [36]-43. If you wish to request this article, you can do so through our Interlibrary Loan form here. https://kcls.org/interlibrary-loan/

If you'd like to pursue your research, you might try contacting one or more of the following organizations:

Library of Congress Civil War Collection https://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/civwar/ https://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/civwar/ The Library of Congress also has an Ask a Librarian function that you can contact: https://www.loc.gov/rr/askalib/ https://www.loc.gov/rr/askalib/

Society of Civil War Historians https://www.historians.org/about-aha-and-membership/affiliated-societies/society-of-civil-war-historians https://www.historians.org/about-aha-and-membership/affilia
ted-societies/society-of-civil-war-historians


The Fairfax Historical Society http://www.fairfaxhistoricalsociety.org/ http://www.fairfaxhistoricalsociety.org/

Hope this helps,
Best, Lisa
Thanks for your extra effort, Lisa. I am familiar with all the above comments and it is the first one, the 50,000 number, that I am attempting to validate. The 300 "miners" is probably correct, but I have no reliable reference for it.
 

DaveBrt

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Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Messages
2,385
Location
Charlotte, NC
Found these two resources...Ohio State University E-history site (link)
  • Hobbs, Thomas Hubbard. The journals of Thomas Hubbard Hobbs : a contemporary record of an aristocrat from Athens, Alabama, written between 1840, when the diarist was fourteen years old, and 1862, when he died serving the Confederate States of America.Ed. by Faye Acton Axford. University : University of Alabama Press, c1976.
  • Parker, Price. From Alabama to Appomattox : History of the 9th Infantry; Pictures, Complete Muster Roll. Athens, AL : Athens News Courier, 1960 (reissued, 1969) [available at the following libraries: Auburn University; Samford University; University of Alabama; and University of North Alabama]
Both Hobbs and Parker were in the 9th Alabama. Perhaps they'll mention the railroad work?
Got to the university that has the Hobbs Journals today. He had been an Alabama legislator and was elected Captain of the company he helped raise. His journal is interesting, but was not designed to be published as is (if at all). As befitting a senior member of society, he was more interested in national and international news than what his company was doing, unless it was doing something of importance -- changing camp, crossing the Manassas battlefield the day after the battle, going on pickett duty, etc. During the time of likely involvement with the RR construction, he makes no mention of it -- but his wife, son and father arrived in camp from Alabama at that same time and they get a lot of space.

Hobbs died of wounds received at Gaines Mill. His wife returned to their plantation, outside of Athens, Ala. in late 1862 and began to restore it from the sacked condition in which she found it. She died in 1873.

The only mention of construction work is of another regiment working on the Centreville fortifications in November. Conclusion -- 50,000 men were not working on the RR, and probably his company only spent a small amount of time doing so, if at all.
 

Lisa Murphy

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Joined
Feb 16, 2019
Messages
145
Got to the university that has the Hobbs Journals today. He had been an Alabama legislator and was elected Captain of the company he helped raise. His journal is interesting, but was not designed to be published as is (if at all). As befitting a senior member of society, he was more interested in national and international news than what his company was doing, unless it was doing something of importance -- changing camp, crossing the Manassas battlefield the day after the battle, going on pickett duty, etc. During the time of likely involvement with the RR construction, he makes no mention of it -- but his wife, son and father arrived in camp from Alabama at that same time and they get a lot of space.

Hobbs died of wounds received at Gaines Mill. His wife returned to their plantation, outside of Athens, Ala. in late 1862 and began to restore it from the sacked condition in which she found it. She died in 1873.

The only mention of construction work is of another regiment working on the Centreville fortifications in November. Conclusion -- 50,000 men were not working on the RR, and probably his company only spent a small amount of time doing so, if at all.
Well, a "negative finding" as we say in science, but negative results are useful, too. No bragging rights to be allotted for an accurate guess, however. Bummer that he had so little interest in his men's/company's work. Are you at the end, or going to keep looking?
 

DaveBrt

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Messages
2,385
Location
Charlotte, NC
Well, a "negative finding" as we say in science, but negative results are useful, too. No bragging rights to be allotted for an accurate guess, however. Bummer that he had so little interest in his men's/company's work. Are you at the end, or going to keep looking?
The last diary you found is only available in Alabama. I have it on ILL, but do not expect a response. That will be it. There were thousands of men in the Centreville area and this is the only mention of working on the road that I have heard of.
 

Lisa Murphy

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Messages
145
The last diary you found is only available in Alabama. I have it on ILL, but do not expect a response. That will be it. There were thousands of men in the Centreville area and this is the only mention of working on the road that I have heard of.
Bummer!
Facts lost to history.
Makes you wonder what we take for granted today that will be eagerly sought by historians of the far future.
 


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