Sherman's Neckties

Joined
Jul 4, 2020
Hello,

I was reading about about the Atlanta campaign and a question arose. I know that across the US there are many abandoned rail lines which in some cases have been vacant for well over a hundred years. I have several just down the road from me in PA. So I came up with a question that hopefully someone here has an answer to. In Georgia and the Carolinas, are there any abandoned railroad lines where twisted rails thrown aside by Sherman's men can still be seen, or have they all been scrapped and ripped apart by rail companies, salvagers, and souvenir hunters over the years?

1594824993405.png

photo by @rebel brit from post below
 
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ucvrelics

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Alabama
Welcome from THE Heart Of Dixie. There are still a few here is one in front of the RR depot in Meridian Ms. Sherman destroyed over 60 miles of RR but the CS had it back open in less than 2 months. I have been looking for one for my collection for MANY years.
1594757561067.png
 

Mrs. V

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
May 5, 2017
Hello,

I was reading about about the Atlanta campaign and a question arose. I know that across the US there are many abandoned rail lines which in some cases have been vacant for well over a hundred years. I have several just down the road from me in PA. So I came up with a question that hopefully someone here has an answer to. In Georgia and the Carolinas, are there any abandoned railroad lines where twisted rails thrown aside by Sherman's men can still be seen, or have they all been scrapped and ripped apart by rail companies, salvagers, and souvenir hunters over the years?
Great question. I imagine many were salvaged and sold to the curious. You might have some fun in your locale with a metal detector. Then you can show us your finds!
 
Joined
May 12, 2018
I’m glad you asked this question... in spite of my love of railroads and the civil war I never would have thought any of these would have survived! I imagine most were sold for scrap after the war. It’d be an interesting reenactment to take someone with a forge wagon to recreate this operation.
 

ucvrelics

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Alabama
Here is a piece of rail I found at a bridge crossing where Sherman's men burnt the bridge and bent the rails.
DSCN8944.JPG
DSCN8945.JPG
DSCN8947.JPG


I’m glad you asked this question... in spite of my love of railroads and the civil war I never would have thought any of these would have survived! I imagine most were sold for scrap after the war. It’d be an interesting reenactment to take someone with a forge wagon to recreate this operation.
Here is a great video that a group of did.
 
Joined
Jul 4, 2020
Here is a piece of rail I found at a bridge crossing where Sherman's men burnt the bridge and bent the rails.
View attachment 366424View attachment 366425View attachment 366426


Here is a great video that a group of did.


That's one hell of a souvenir. Closest I have to that in my collection is a solid 20 pound Parrott shell fired by a Wisconsin artillery unit at Waul's Texas Legion during the siege of Vicksburg. A buddy of mine inherited it from an uncle who was an avid relic hunter down in Mississippi in his youth. I'm still in college so money is tight...can't wait to graduate so I can hopefully start making money and expand my rather small relic room.
 

DaveBrt

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
There were three ways to make railroad rails unusable. The first was to make a mound of the ties, lay the rails over the mound and set it on fire. This was by far the most used method by both sides -- and the least useful, since it was reasonably easy for the railroad to straighten the rails, on the spot, and relay them.

The second method was what is seen in the video. It was only a little more difficult for the railroad to restore the track.

The third method was like the first two, but the rail was taken at each end with tongs and twisted around the axis of the rail. This method could only be repaired by re-rolling the rail in a rolling mill, something the South did not have the capacity to do (it had the ability, but all the mills were occupied with other Government work). This method was only developed just before the march to Savannah. The result was that the roads that Sherman destroyed on the march were much harder for the Confederates to repair, since rails had to be taken from other roads to restore the destroyed ones.
 

ucvrelics

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Regtl. Quartermaster Shiloh 2020
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Alabama
There were three ways to make railroad rails unusable. The first was to make a mound of the ties, lay the rails over the mound and set it on fire. This was by far the most used method by both sides -- and the least useful, since it was reasonably easy for the railroad to straighten the rails, on the spot, and relay them.

The second method was what is seen in the video. It was only a little more difficult for the railroad to restore the track.

The third method was like the first two, but the rail was taken at each end with tongs and twisted around the axis of the rail. This method could only be repaired by re-rolling the rail in a rolling mill, something the South did not have the capacity to do (it had the ability, but all the mills were occupied with other Government work). This method was only developed just before the march to Savannah. The result was that the roads that Sherman destroyed on the march were much harder for the Confederates to repair, since rails had to be taken from other roads to restore the destroyed ones.
You forgot the 4th way. The CS Navy took it. :D
 
Joined
May 12, 2018
Dave, an enlightening post. The tong method must have been used on the rail that survives at Altoona, as shown above. No doubt it was badly twisted enough to not be worth re-rolling, even after the war! It’s surprising to see how little equipment was needed to do this kind of work, and I see now you wouldn’t need a forge wagon at all. Just iron rails, men, and a roaring fire. Deviously simple.

I understand that many lesser roads were ripped up to provide extra rails for strategically important rail lines during the war. I even heard that some lines still used, or substituted in, strap iron rails. Those must have been quite easy to destroy, although perhaps easy to repair as well, since they were just long strips of iron on wooden beams for rails.
 

DaveBrt

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Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
Dave, an enlightening post. The tong method must have been used on the rail that survives at Altoona, as shown above. No doubt it was badly twisted enough to not be worth re-rolling, even after the war! It’s surprising to see how little equipment was needed to do this kind of work, and I see now you wouldn’t need a forge wagon at all. Just iron rails, men, and a roaring fire. Deviously simple.

I understand that many lesser roads were ripped up to provide extra rails for strategically important rail lines during the war. I even heard that some lines still used, or substituted in, strap iron rails. Those must have been quite easy to destroy, although perhaps easy to repair as well, since they were just long strips of iron on wooden beams for rails.
The number of lesser roads taken up to support the main lines or the ironclads was rather small. I am compiling a list of those roads and how much was taken from each. The first source of rails was the reserve of rails that each road kept for repairs and for building extra sidings and rails on hand for new construction (Virginia Central RR). Then came roads which had been partly are fully abandoned to the enemy (Brunswick & Albany RR, Alabama & Florida (of Florida) RR, Orange & Alexandria RR, Rogersville & Jefferson RR, Norfolk & Petersburg RR, Seaboard & Roanoke RR, Atlantic & North Carolina RR, Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac RR, Richmond & York River RR, and others).

After Sherman's march to Savannah, the need to restore the railroads across Georgia was so great that many previously untouched roads were taken up to replace the twisted rails.

Even broken and laminated rails had value. Many were repaired (though with the loss of length) by the railroads and relaid. Tredegar bought "old iron" (starting with Baltimore & Ohio RR scrap that Jackson/Sharp provided) to feed its needs. All rails could have been re-rolled and re-laid, had there been room in the production schedules of the iron works.

More rails were taken up to complete/build new construction. The new roads were the Piedmont RR, the Selma & Meridian RR, and many small jobs (like connections within cities, new sidings for critical industries, etc). Most of this iron came from the Roanoke Valley RR and the Alabama & Florida (of Florida) RR.
 

ucvrelics

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I understand that many lesser roads were ripped up to provide extra rails for strategically important rail lines during the war. I even heard that some lines still used, or substituted in, strap iron rails. Those must have been quite easy to destroy, although perhaps easy to repair as well, since they were just long strips of iron on wooden beams for rails.
We had one here is Alabama called the Bee Line that was only 22 miles that started out with wood rail with iron straps. If you haven't been to Dave's site https://www.csa-railroads.com/ you need to check it out. He has done a fantastic job with it.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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Welcome from THE Heart Of Dixie. There are still a few here is one in front of the RR depot in Meridian Ms. Sherman destroyed over 60 miles of RR but the CS had it back open in less than 2 months. I have been looking for one for my collection for MANY years.
View attachment 366414


This is tongue-in-cheek :whistling: but I'm absolutely shocked you haven't felt you needed to rehome this or take it into protective custody!
 

Lubliner

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Nov 27, 2018
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Chattanooga, Tennessee
The lack of iron had become a huge deficit to the State of Alabama by 1864 when almost all of it was being used to replenish the rail system. The Governor applied to Richmond for purchasing scrap iron so farmers could fix their plows and other utensils. It had gotten to the point where harvesting and planting could not be done without upkeep of farm implements.
Lubliner.
[Edit]: It would be a godsend to have this moved to the Railroad and Steam Locomotive Forum. Moderator?
 

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