Railroad Math, Why Chattanooga Mattered

DaveBrt

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
"The car, from the RR point of view, was not just sitting in Atlanta. The car was brought to Atlanta empty from Virginia. The prime contemporary example were the cars dedicated to the Augusta Armory. The cars & the reusable boxes were not available for any other use. Only one run delivered goods to Lee. It took two deadhead runs to make that system work."

Cars were unloaded in Atlanta from where ever they had come from, then loaded and sent out. Of course, the RRs did not want their rolling stock on "foreign roads," but that was frequently overcome by the army. So for the Knoxville route, the question is whether there was W&A RR rolling stock sitting unused. I doubt you can make a case that there was -- Bragg, Johnston, Brown and others were all over the W&A to ship to the max.

There are plenty of references to railroad men complaining that the cars never stopped, so they did not receive the maintenance and repairs they needed. ROLLING stock was precious and kept rolling.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
There was sever loss of rolling stock at Corinth when the army destroyed a bridge too soon.

I'm no aware of loss of rolling stock at Jackson. Could you provide a reference? Yes there was plenty of rolling stock isolated in northern and western Mississippi, but it was not known that they would stay isolated and, until the Union came down in raid after raid, they were useful in their area. Once Vicksburg was lost and it was clear that NW Mississippi could not be defended, there were efforts to remove that rolling stock.
I'm sure I read that somewhere, but I cannot get back the source, so its unconfirmed.
 

DaveBrt

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
Should the war dept. have had Tredegar build rails, cars and engines.
In my opinion, Davis should have forced the Navy Department to prioritize its ironclad production to just what was essential. With the iron production freed up by this move, rails and wheels should have been produced. Cars could be built in Raleigh, where the labor and lumber were cheaper (some were built there in late 1862).

However, the South's needs were so large, and their resources so limited, that the best that could be done was to improve the railroad situation -- not in any way solve it. Meaningful locomotive production was beyond Tredegar's capabilities.
 

uaskme

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
Longstreet rode the RR from ATL to Ringgold thru Dalton. He also went from Chickamauga Station up to Lenoir City on his way to Knoxville. So, he had plenty of experience riding the rails. Trip from VA to Ringgold took 10 days or so. He had to repair parts of the RR from Chickamauga Station to Lenoir City. His Pontoon Bridge was brought up from Cartersville Ga, North of ATL to Lenoir City. used it to cross the TN river on his Knoxville Campaign. That trip didn't go to Chickamauga Station.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
The route that Longstreet’s corps took from Virginia to Chattanooga involved 16 different rail roads. That was the same route that supplies shipped from the Atlanta Depot had to travel in order to supply Lee’s army. It was the loss of the critical junction at Chattanooga that forced that long, asset & time consuming route on CSA troop & supply movements. The mechanics of that epic journey are way too complex to explain in this format. Another even larger movement of an entire army in July 1862 is a good substitute.

In order to secure Chattanooga from the advance of Buel’s army from Huntsville to Chattanooga, Bragg’s army in Mississippi was ordered there. The direct route was 225 miles long. Because the CSA had lost Corinth, Bragg’s army traveled via Mobile, a total of 726 miles. Needless to say, enough cars, engines & train crews necessary to carry Bragg’s army weren’t just sitting around somewhere in Mississippi ready to be loaded.

A boxcar dispatched from Chattanooga to pick up Bragg’s army made a 1,520 mile round trip. Since the RR’s did not have enough capacity to make the move in one go, that empty car was returned for a total of 2,246 miles. This is a simple example of what was involved with moving a single carload from Mississippi to Chattanooga. That is a perfect example of what my friend calls railroad math.

When Longstreet’s corps began to arrive in Atlanta, there were no freight cars available to to transport them to Chattanooga. That fact was observed & reported to Rosecrans. Empty cars had to diverted from delivering supplies from the Atlanta depot & marshaled to make up troop trains.

There was no way to know how long it would take to divert enough cars & engines. That is why Bragg did not know when Longstreet would arrive at Chickamauga Station. The ripple effect of that disruption was a major factor in the poor supply situation faced after the Battle of Chickamauga.

Hopefully, the 2,246 mile journey in 1862 gives you some insight into the far longer & much more complex journey faced by a boxcar supplying Lee from Atlanta.
 
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DaveBrt

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
I am content to stay with what actually happened. I recently read the intel reports that Rosecrans received when Longstreet arrived in Atlanta, That is the kind of thing I know about.
The first mention of the movement in the RR Bureau records:

Richmond, Sep 5th 1863
T. Dodamead, Supt. {Virginia & Tennessee RR}
Lynchburg, Va.
Will you need aid & how much to move twenty thousand men & fifty pieces of artillery to Bristol in five days?
F. W. Sims
Maj. & Q. M.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Longstreet rode the RR from ATL to Ringgold thru Dalton. He also went from Chickamauga Station up to Lenoir City on his way to Knoxville. So, he had plenty of experience riding the rails. Trip from VA to Ringgold took 10 days or so. He had to repair parts of the RR from Chickamauga Station to Lenoir City. His Pontoon Bridge was brought up from Cartersville Ga, North of ATL to Lenoir City. used it to cross the TN river on his Knoxville Campaign. That trip didn't go to Chickamauga Station.
My favorite part of the epic transfer to Chattanooga was the hat snatching. As they passed through towns where crowds gathered on platforms to cheer them on, Longstreet’s men amused themselves by snatching hats from the well wishers heads. It is a great loss to history that no photographs of Longstreet’s men detraining wearing top hats & lady’s feathered bonnets exist.
 

DaveBrt

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
In order to secure Chattanooga from the advance of Buel’s army from Huntsville to Chattanooga, Bragg’s army in Mississippi was ordered there. The direct route was 225 miles long. Because the CSA had lost Corinth, Bragg’s army traveled via Mobile, a total of 726 miles. Needless to say, enough cars, engines & train crews necessary to carry Bragg’s army weren’t just sitting around somewhere in Mississippi ready to be loaded.

A boxcar dispatched from Chattanooga to pick up Bragg’s army made a 1,520 mile round trip. Since the RR’s did not have enough capacity to make the move in one go, that empty car was returned for a total of 2,246 miles. This is a simple example of what was involved with moving a single carload from Mississippi to Chattanooga. That is a perfect example of what my friend calls railroad math.
You still do not understand Confederate rail movements. No car from Mississippi ever made it to Chattanooga. Each railroad carried its cargo to the interface with the next road, where the cargo was unloaded and reloaded on the next road's cars. On occasion, trains were allowed to run on the adjacent road, though not normally. So cars were always on the road about to receive the freight -- they were that road's cars. No road had enough cars to sit around and do nothing -- they were busy shunting back and forth on that line. They just loaded a different cargo at the interface with the previous road. At most, a car would go some 100 miles from one end of the road to wait for cargo at the other end (and I'll bet the QMs and RR Superintendents did not waste that trip to the interface, but carried cargo at least part of the trip).
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
Basic railroad math: the bigger systems with the bigger revenue base hire the best managers, the best civil engineers and the best mechanics. The bigger systems get the new and best locomotives and update their telegraph equipment faster.
 

DaveBrt

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
"When Longstreet’s corps began to arrive in Atlanta, there were no freight cars available to to transport them to Chattanooga. That fact was observed & reported to Rosecrans. Empty cars had to diverted from delivering supplies from the Atlanta depot & marshaled to make up troop trains."

Exactly my point -- there were no empty cars available to send long distances for troops. They used what they had, not what was sitting idle hundreds of mile away.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
There was a basic difference between the northern railroad systems and the southern railroad systems. Then northern railroads did not have to compete with steamboats and steamships during the winter.
 

DaveBrt

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
"The route that Longstreet’s corps took from Virginia to Chattanooga involved 16 different rail roads."

A soldier used the following 8 roads from Richmond to northern GA:
Richmond & Petersburg
Petersburg
Raleigh & Gaston
North Carolina
Charlotte & South Carolina
South Carolina
Georgia
Western & Atlantic

During the movement, the RR Bureau officer in eastern NC (Maj. John D. Whitford), decided to move some of the troops on a second route to speed up the movement. Those who took that route dropped the Raleigh & Gaston, North Carolina and Charlotte & SC roads and added the Wilmington & Weldon, Wilmington & Manchester and Northeastern roads.

So 8 roads one way or 8 roads the other, total of 11 roads.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I saw that and thought it was an odd way of looking at it. Based on the logic as I understand it, there would have been 3 way trips followed by one way trips.
Here is the way my RRer explained it to me. For a single boxcar to be at the loading dock in a point to point system, it has to be positioned. That is one leg. It then delivers the load. That is the second trip. The empty car has to return. That is three trips taken to make a single delivery possible. From the shipper’s point of view, it is a simple one way delivery. How, when & where the empty car came from or goes to isn’t the shipper’s problem.
 

Lubliner

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
As it was mentioned, any railroad hub was important, no matter what city it helped nourish. Losing any would cause severe setback.
@Rhea Cole if the shipper owns the car, that is his rail point to point as well, why waste it on an empty shipment. Those points had flow both ways didn't they?
Lubliner.
 

Carronade

Captain
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Location
Pennsylvania
Here is the way my RRer explained it to me. For a single boxcar to be at the loading dock in a point to point system, it has to be positioned. That is one leg. It then delivers the load. That is the second trip. The empty car has to return. That is three trips taken to make a single delivery possible. From the shipper’s point of view, it is a simple one way delivery. How, when & where the empty car came from or goes to isn’t the shipper’s problem.

That would apply to a one-time trip, or the first trip on what is intended to become a regular route. In the latter case, once a car is brought into rotation, it makes two trips per delivery.

When positioning cars to start service, the railroad will try to find cars near where they are needed to minimize the non-productive time. For example, if you need cars to run from Atlanta to Richmond, hopefully you would find them someplace not too far away, like Montgomery or Augusta. The positioning trip would be shorter than the delivery or return trip. In terms of distance or time, "3 trips" might be more like "2.3 trips".
 
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