Question About Civil War Train Wrecks

Joined
Aug 2, 2019
I'm trying to track down a train derailment/collision/accident in which a prisoner leaving Andersonville was injured. Is there a central list of train wrecks that occurred in 1864 or 1865 anywhere?

I'm working off of a pension application where a sailor says the train he was on derailed and he incurred a hernia as a result. So far I've found three different references to train accidents in Georgia in September of 1864, but I'm not convinced that they are all referring to different wrecks. Does anyone have any insights? Unfortunately, I don't have an exact date or location for the accident he was hurt in.

Thanks for any insights you might have!
 
Joined
Aug 2, 2019
I just read something about that event (possibly) now cant find it or recall who I was reading about.
Sounds like me. I know I read about it in a sailor's pension application, but I have about 150 of those on my computer and I can't remember WHICH sailor it was. There is a train accident mentioned in Andersonville prisoner George Hitchcock's diary on September 14th (the accident happened the day before, and it pushed back Hitchcock's departure from the prison). Since he writes that the uninjured prisoners were returned to the stockade, I'm taking that to mean that there were at least some prisoners injured.
 

DaveBrt

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Charlotte, NC
I'm trying to track down a train derailment/collision/accident in which a prisoner leaving Andersonville was injured. Is there a central list of train wrecks that occurred in 1864 or 1865 anywhere?

I'm working off of a pension application where a sailor says the train he was on derailed and he incurred a hernia as a result. So far I've found three different references to train accidents in Georgia in September of 1864, but I'm not convinced that they are all referring to different wrecks. Does anyone have any insights? Unfortunately, I don't have an exact date or location for the accident he was hurt in.

Thanks for any insights you might have!
http://csa-railroads.com/Essays/Accidents_on_Confederate_Railroads_--_1864.htm

http://csa-railroads.com/Essays/Accidents_on_Confederate_Railroads_--_1865.htm
 
Joined
Aug 2, 2019
@DaveBrt - you have the three accidents that I mentioned earlier. There's an account of the September 14th one in the diary of George Hitchcock, 21st Mass, which is published under the title "Ashby to Andersonville."

Sept 14 - the train which left last night collided with a freight train six miles north. The result was eight cars were thrown from the track and smashed - killing and wounding about sixty "mudsills." The rebs did not take much notice, so trifling an affair, only to send the uninjured back to camp and we do not leave today.

A "mudsill" is a member of the lowest class in the social hierarchy, ie, the people others wipe their feet on.

The September 13th crash is the only one that I am sure was carrying departing prisoners. The September 1st crash is before the prisoners started to leave Andersonville on Sept. 7th, so if there were any prisoners on board, they would have been in-bound. One of the Confederate soldiers who died in the crash on Sept 23rd was a guard at Andersonville, I think, but I don't remember what newspaper I read that it (a Georgia one, anyway).

Thanks a TON!

Gary
 

Lubliner

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A very thorough and informative thread. Thank you @Gary Morgan and those that responded. I do feel like I am hanging a bit in the air though. Was this the evacuation of Andersonville with the Union approach on Atlanta?
Lubliner.
 
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Aug 2, 2019
Pretty much. I went to a virtual talk on the Sultana last week, which got me wondering about other transportation disasters involving prisoners. So far I've got three shipwrecks (an explosion, a fire, and a collision that resulted in a sinking) involving returning prisoners, which made me curious about the possibility of railroad accidents, since I remembered reading the pension record of a sailor whose train car derailed, sending him crashing into a bench, and resulting in a hernia.

I'm sure you know about the Sultana. The Massachusetts collided with another ship while carrying some prisoners on the Potomac and 87 were killed (including 7 of the 13 members of the 16th Connecticut who were on board - I read the diary of one of them at the Connecticut Historical Society - the diary survived; the soldier didn't), and then there was the General Lyon that sank of Cape Hatteras with a bunch of returning prisoners from Wilmington (I think), with the loss of 500 souls, but only 27 survivors. I'm not sure yet, but it may be that the total number of transportation deaths among returning Andersonville prisoners is about 7 or 8% compared to the number of prisoners who died in the Andersonville stockade. I need to dig some more to find out.

This also doesn't take into account the number of men who died at Florence and Millen after leaving Andersonville. I guess the moral of the story is that no matter how happy you were when that train pulled out of Andersonville Station, you weren't home until you actually crossed your threshold.

Meanwhile, I have a talk to virtually give in Rhode Island on my NEXT book on Wednesday - I really did think I'd get more writing done during the pandemic. And I just gave a talk to the Albany, NY CWRT that went over so well that this week the Civil War Roundtable Congress contacted me and asked if I'd do my Raiders presentation for their group in July, so after a year of postponed talks, things are starting to wake up. (I went into lockdown on March 13th, 2020; the Raiders book was published two days later).

If anyone missed the talk I did here, the Albany presentation is online at https://www.facebook.com/Capital-District-Civil-War-RoundTable-713698235457543/

And I just booked my plane tickets and room at a B&B for July when I'm leading a raiders-themed tour of the grounds at Andersonville Historic Site for the NPS. If anyone is in the Andersonville area on July 11th, I'd love to meet you!
 

lelliott19

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virtual talk on the Sultana last week,
You'll be pleased to know that Mr. Gene Salecker will be with us in June for a presentation on his 'old' book Disaster on the Mississippi: The Sultana Explosion, April 27, 1865 and to talk about his latest research - myths, legends and facts.
 
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Aug 2, 2019
@Gary Morgan there was a big train crash of prisoners being transported to Elmira in 1864. About 60 people were killed. The bodies of the prisoners are in the cemetery at Elmira.
Yes. In fact, one of the newspaper articles for the September 13 crash compares the number of dead to the number of men who were killed in the Shohola crash, and says that the numbers are about the same.
 

Bloody7th

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Aug 30, 2015
This also doesn't take into account the number of men who died at Florence and Millen after leaving Andersonville. I guess the moral of the story is that no matter how happy you were when that train pulled out of Andersonville Station, you weren't home until you actually crossed your threshold.
Even those that survived Florence and the dismal journey to Wilmington for exchange died in route to Annapolis (whether by accident of disease/starvation). There are also numerous men who died within a year of reaching home, their bodies just too far gone to recover fully. I've also read in many pension files guys still suffering from dysentery years (and sometimes decades) after the war...
 
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