Discussion Macadam roads

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
Much has been said about the poor state of southern railroads and union domination of southern waterways. Still could not the confederates have countered by rebuilding their road system on the macadam style road. Army pioneers, impressed slaves could have been used to perform the work. They needed low tech countermeasures given their limited means.
 

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
This might depend on the time frame. We would need to ask the horse and mule people if there were enough horses, mules, and oxen to haul the wagons. By mid war the South was running low on horses but I have no idea what the situation was for mules and oxen. A certain number of mules would have been needed to work the farms that provided food and the number of mules needed by plantation owners to grow cotton. So can anyone give us an opinion on the necessary draft animals available to haul wagons down the macadam roads? Macadam roads would have saved time so the available draft animals could have hauled more loads.
 

hoosier

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Dillsburg, PA
The below-referenced article on macadam road construction indicates that the first macadam road in the United States was the Boonesborough Turnpike Road, 10 miles long, completed in 1823. The second one was the Cumberland Road, 73 miles long, which was completed in 1830 after five years of work.

Of course, there were three decades between the completion of the Cumberland Road and the start of the Civil War, and more efficient techniques could have been developed during that time. Still, if it took a year to build 14 or 15 miles of one road in 1830, I'm skeptical that a network of macadam roads sufficiently extensive to make a significant difference in a war effort could have been constructed in the time available to the Confederacy.
 

Lubliner

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
The below-referenced article on macadam road construction indicates that the first macadam road in the United States was the Boonesborough Turnpike Road, 10 miles long, completed in 1823. The second one was the Cumberland Road, 73 miles long, which was completed in 1830 after five years of work.

Of course, there were three decades between the completion of the Cumberland Road and the start of the Civil War, and more efficient techniques could have been developed during that time. Still, if it took a year to build 14 or 15 miles of one road in 1830, I'm skeptical that a network of macadam roads sufficiently extensive to make a significant difference in a war effort could have been constructed in the time available to the Confederacy.
There was one in the Shenandoah Valley.
Lubliner.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
The MacAdamized Nashville/Murfreesboro spike was a thirty mile long wonder. Today, the straight pike follows the historic toll road’s road bed. The pike (referring to the pole that stopped passing travelers at the toll house) was the equivalent of what Midwesterners call a farm to market gravel road.

The all weather road surface came at a cost. An artillery battery that passed from Nashville to Murfreesboro would wear out 3/4 of her horse shoes & some of the tires (metal bands surrounding the wheels) due to the friction of the road surface. The gravel acted like extremely rough sand paper grinding away the soft metal of the shoes.
 
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JeffFromSyracuse

Corporal
Joined
Jul 6, 2020
Location
Philly Suburbs
There’s a famous stat from the early 1800s that it was cheaper to ship produce to England by ship than it was to transport a wagonload of goods from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.

Then, as now, it is far more efficient and practical to ship in bulk over long distance by rail or water than it is to ship by road. That’s why pre-Civil War transport projects focused first on canals and then on railroads.

Good roads require maintenance, plus the Confederates would need an armada of wagons and draft teams, plus the feed and extra manpower needed to keep the system moving.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
There’s a famous stat from the early 1800s that it was cheaper to ship produce to England by ship than it was to transport a wagonload of goods from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.

Then, as now, it is far more efficient and practical to ship in bulk over long distance by rail or water than it is to ship by road. That’s why pre-Civil War transport projects focused first on canals and then on railroads.

Good roads require maintenance, plus the Confederates would need an armada of wagons and draft teams, plus the feed and extra manpower needed to keep the system moving.
You have raised an excellent point. Because the rail road connecting the Army of TN with its base in Northern Alabama was destroyed by acts of God & man, the animals & wagons were in a state of collapse. The animals were consuming almost as much fodder & grain as was delivered. Thousands of replacements were desperately needed when Rosecrans advanced at the end of June.

During the Tullahoma Campaign Rosecrans ordered that the repaired Nashville & Chattanooga RR haul grain & fodder southward. Rations & ammunition were relegated to wagons. A daily ration for a soldier weighed about 3 pounds; that of a horse 26 pounds. A horse that was not fed properly quickly became unserviceable.

Northbound freight on the N&CRR was predominately broken down horses & mules. The other return item were the empty burlap bags that the grain & fodder were shipped in.
 

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
You have raised an excellent point. Because the rail road connecting the Army of TN with its base in Northern Alabama was destroyed by acts of God & man, the animals & wagons were in a state of collapse. The animals were consuming almost as much fodder & grain as was delivered. Thousands of replacements were desperately needed when Rosecrans advanced at the end of June.

During the Tullahoma Campaign Rosecrans ordered that the repaired Nashville & Chattanooga RR haul grain & fodder southward. Rations & ammunition were relegated to wagons. A daily ration for a soldier weighed about 3 pounds; that of a horse 26 pounds. A horse that was not fed properly quickly became unserviceable.

Northbound freight on the N&CRR was predominately broken down horses & mules. The other return item were the empty burlap bags that the grain & fodder were shipped in.
That was quite impressive what Rosecrans and his command achieved. Transport and map making were notable achievements of his command.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Might have been because Rosecrans had been an engineer officer before the war.
While teaching at West Point, Rosecrans made a study about how the army would handle an exponential increase in size during a major conflict. He had a blue print for what he wanted to do when he arrived in Nashville. Fortunately, the man credited with creating blueprints was already there. It was the photo copier used to make solar maps for the A of the C that was the prototype. I can smell that sour oder from an unrolling blueprint as I write this.
 

Sbc

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Location
Easley, South Carolina
The MacAdamized Nashville/Murfreesboro spike was a thirty mile long wonder. Today, the straight pike follows the historic toll road’s road bed. The pike (referring to the pole that stopped passing travelers at the toll house) was the equivalent of what Midwesterners call a farm to market gravel road.

The all weather road surface came at a cost. An artillery battery that passed from Nashville to Murfreesboro would wear out 3/4 of her horse shoes & some of the tires (metal bands surrounding the wheels) due to the friction of the road surface. The gravel acted like extremely rough sand paper grinding away the soft metal of the shoes.
Fascinating detail overlooked by us modern folks.
 
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