The Locomotive Crew

Lubliner

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Chattanooga, Tennessee
I was reading a report from Bull's Gap, Tennessee dated October 1, 1863.
Col. James Carter sent it to General Burnside stating a certain Mr. Baker had escaped the day before from the rebels at Jonesboro. Mr. Baker happens to be a railroad conductor. He returned with very valuable information concerning the confederates.
How prone to capture were the crews on locomotives? It seems they would make useful hostages when taken by the enemy. I haven't discovered any further information as to how he was captured. I know some incidents occurred earlier in the war in Virginia, and remember one specific occurrence along the Manassas Line(?) where the locomotive and crew were waylaid and made to carry troops forward. Finding out the conductor was Union(?) and purposely delayed movement, he was killed either then or after arriving to the point of disembarkation.
Were locomotive crews ever targeted?
Thanks,
Lubliner.
 

Waterloo50

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I was reading a report from Bull's Gap, Tennessee dated October 1, 1863.
Col. James Carter sent it to General Burnside stating a certain Mr. Baker had escaped the day before from the rebels at Jonesboro. Mr. Baker happens to be a railroad conductor. He returned with very valuable information concerning the confederates.
How prone to capture were the crews on locomotives? It seems they would make useful hostages when taken by the enemy. I haven't discovered any further information as to how he was captured. I know some incidents occurred earlier in the war in Virginia, and remember one specific occurrence along the Manassas Line(?) where the locomotive and crew were waylaid and made to carry troops forward. Finding out the conductor was Union(?) and purposely delayed movement, he was killed either then or after arriving to the point of disembarkation.
Were locomotive crews ever targeted?
Thanks,
Lubliner.
I not sure of the answer to your question but it did make me wonder if railroad crews were viewed as legitimate targets. Were the crews that hauled military equipment, military crews or were they civilians employed by the military or were the trains just commandeered. I can’t recall seeing any photos of railroad crews in military uniform but I guess that it must have happened.
 

Rhea Cole

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Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Train crews in Middle Tennessee were under constant attack. When trains were derailed, the engine crew were in danger of being smashed or scalded to death by the steam, a hideous death. I.E.D.'s could cause boiler explosions. The brakemen, who turned wheels on the top of cars to stop the train following signals from the engine, were shot at all the time. One of the first three fatalities inflicted on RR crewmen by the banditti attacking the newly opened Nashville & North Western RR was a boy asleep in the caboose. The only battle deaths suffered by the famous Iowas Graybeard Regiment were from an attack on a train near Memphis. It is an interesting question, what happened to the civilian crewmen, as happened near Murfreesboro in November 1864, when a train was attacked by N.B. Forrest & the soldiers onboard were paroled? Don't know if I have ever seen that mentioned. There were so many wrecks due to routine washouts & broken rails that attacks by banditti were just one more hazard, I suppose.
 
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DaveBrt

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Charlotte, NC
Were the crews who worked under the authority of the USMRR civilians or military?
Union crews in the states that remained in the Union, like Kentucky and Maryland, were employees of their various RRs. Union crews on the USMRR (ie in southern states) were hired by the USA, but remained civilian. Confederate crews were all civilian.
 

Rhea Cole

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Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Union crews in the states that remained in the Union, like Kentucky and Maryland, were employees of their various RRs. Union crews on the USMRR (ie in southern states) were hired by the USA, but remained civilian. Confederate crews were all civilian.
Brilliant post, very enlightening... figured that now you are a moderator I should start sucking up.
 

Lubliner

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I am going to say the confederates would claim the conductors were aiding the enemy regardless if they be civilian or otherwise.
Punishment won't be a military court's-martial either.
Maybe some order and detail can finally be quantified, thinking where rosters may be kept. These men were generally experienced in a new business, like telegraph operators. There wouldn't be many that could operate such heavy equipment safely, so surely they were valuable and probably well-known. Just like pilots at a harbor with the job of navigating a boat into or out were specialized. And the first civilian to be sought after by the Navy was a pilot. Without these three details employed, a hindrance was sure to promote failure. So maybe hostage-taking would be more advantageous. Either way it multiplies the danger to these men. Mr. Baker was not only lucky, he proved how valuable he could be. I thank all of you for the bit of levity, and also briefly, the aptitude shown by each of you, all.

Lubliner.
 

Carronade

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Pennsylvania
Off topic, but train crews reminded me of this. Some years ago I saw a local newspaper article about a tourist excursion railroad in southern Delaware which used a steam locomotive. It included a photo of the engineer and fireman in the cab, but to be politically correct, the person who keeps the fire burning was referred as the "firefighter" :wink:
 

Waterloo50

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Off topic, but train crews reminded me of this. Some years ago I saw a local newspaper article about a tourist excursion railroad in southern Delaware which used a steam locomotive. It included a photo of the engineer and fireman in the cab, but to be politically correct, the person who keeps the fire burning was referred as the "firefighter" :wink:
‘I’m offended, I’m now off to my safe space for a hug with my woke spirit animal.
 

Lubliner

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I not sure of the answer to your question but it did make me wonder if railroad crews were viewed as legitimate targets. Were the crews that hauled military equipment, military crews or were they civilians employed by the military or were the trains just commandeered. I can’t recall seeing any photos of railroad crews in military uniform but I guess that it must have happened.
I just found some good information to help us along, pertaining to Virginia in Oct.1864.

Office of Chief Engineer And General Superintendent Military Railroads of Virginia
Alexandria, July 7,1865
to the Director and General Manager Military Railroads, United States, Washington D. C.

To Brig. Gen D. C. McCallum
From J. J. Moore. (Moore began Nov. 11, 1864)
(My Notes):
On Oct. 2, 1864, the men were working on the Orange and Alexandria railroad south of Manassas. General Halleck ordered these men to the Piedmont and Front Royal, on the Manassas Gap Railroad. All men and material at Rappahannock were loaded and sent to Manassas Junction.

Along the Manassas Gap railroad all the bridges were destroyed. The track to Piedmont undisturbed but all the cross-ties badly decayed. Beyond Piedmont all the bridges were destroyed, the track torn up and the iron removed. The working parties and the troops guarding them were harassed by guerillas, firing into trains, and sometimes thrown from the track.

On Oct. 10, they removed a rail near White Plains, causing the train to run off down an embankment , causing the death of Mr. M. J. McCrickett, superintendent; E. J. Bolt and W. Fuller, conductors; Charles Brooks and Richard Cowling, firemen.

Mr. McCrickett was reported as a young man of fine promise, and the others as valuable and trustworthy men.

Mr. P. McCallum , formerly in charge of military railroads in Norfolk was the replacement two days later. The work to Piedmont was finished on Oct. 11, and work continued until 26th​ when they were ordered to abandon the road, and take up the iron from Piedmont back to Manassas Gap. They completed this on Nov. 10, and transported it direct to Winchester and Potomac and Ohio Railroad, and used by a large construction force already at work on the line.

So it does seem no amnesty was involved by this time. Take notice all were civilian, and pressing urgencies existed.

Thanks, Lubliner.
 

Waterloo50

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I just found some good information to help us along, pertaining to Virginia in Oct.1864.

Office of Chief Engineer And General Superintendent Military Railroads of Virginia
Alexandria, July 7,1865
to the Director and General Manager Military Railroads, United States, Washington D. C.

To Brig. Gen D. C. McCallum
From J. J. Moore. (Moore began Nov. 11, 1864)
(My Notes):
On Oct. 2, 1864, the men were working on the Orange and Alexandria railroad south of Manassas. General Halleck ordered these men to the Piedmont and Front Royal, on the Manassas Gap Railroad. All men and material at Rappahannock were loaded and sent to Manassas Junction.

Along the Manassas Gap railroad all the bridges were destroyed. The track to Piedmont undisturbed but all the cross-ties badly decayed. Beyond Piedmont all the bridges were destroyed, the track torn up and the iron removed. The working parties and the troops guarding them were harassed by guerillas, firing into trains, and sometimes thrown from the track.

On Oct. 10, they removed a rail near White Plains, causing the train to run off down an embankment , causing the death of Mr. M. J. McCrickett, superintendent; E. J. Bolt and W. Fuller, conductors; Charles Brooks and Richard Cowling, firemen.

Mr. McCrickett was reported as a young man of fine promise, and the others as valuable and trustworthy men.

Mr. P. McCallum , formerly in charge of military railroads in Norfolk was the replacement two days later. The work to Piedmont was finished on Oct. 11, and work continued until 26th​ when they were ordered to abandon the road, and take up the iron from Piedmont back to Manassas Gap. They completed this on Nov. 10, and transported it direct to Winchester and Potomac and Ohio Railroad, and used by a large construction force already at work on the line.

So it does seem no amnesty was involved by this time. Take notice all were civilian, and pressing urgencies existed.

Thanks, Lubliner.
The military had the power with government backing to take over the running of the railroad including all of its employees, It wasn’t that the railroad workers were automatically enlisted but they were employees of the railroad company and by default belonged to the military for as long as the military required the use of the railroad.

Interestingly , the various Railroad companies were more than happy to hand over control, the Railroads were only on temporary lease to the military and when the military had finished with the railroad, the railroad companies were compensated, not only did they get a nice hand out of cash but quite a few of them ended up with a far better infrastructure than they had started out with. Some companies even had the audacity to insist that their railroad was returned to its original gauge and more than one company was insistent that the new rolling stock that the military has supplied could remain on their property providing they were compensated for its storage.

General Halleck‘s special order No 10 ensured that all railroads that were under his control but were no longer being used for military purposes were to be returned to the various companies. Its no surprise really that the military didn’t hang onto the railroads for longer than they needed to, it was apparently costing the government $1,300,000 per month to keep the military railroads up to scratch so they were extremely keen to hand them back to their former owners.
It was a win win situation for the owners of the railroad but not so good for its employees, if they wanted to maintain an income and keep their jobs on the railroads then they had to do as their new employers wanted, in this case it was the military. I bet a lot of those railroad crews were thinking to themselves ‘I didn’t sign up for this’ but it was essential work and their skills were required, unfortunately the work that the crews were expected to do made them legitimate targets of war.
So, I guess, at the time it didn’t matter if they were enlisted or not, it was a very risk enterprise for all involved.
 
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Lubliner

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The military had the power with government backing to take over the running of the railroad including all of its employees, It wasn’t that the railroad workers were automatically enlisted but they were employees of the railroad company and by default belonged to the military for as long as the military required the use of the railroad.

Interestingly , the various Railroad companies were more than happy to hand over control, the Railroads were only on temporary lease to the military and when the military had finished with the railroad, the railroad companies were compensated, not only did they get a nice hand out of cash but quite a few of them ended up with a far better infrastructure than they had started out with. Some companies even had the audacity to insist that their railroad was returned to its original gauge and more than one company was insistent that the new rolling stock that the military has supplied could remain on their property providing they were compensated for its storage.

General Halleck‘s special order No 10 ensured that all railroads that were under his control but were no longer being used for military purposes were to be returned to the various companies. Its no surprise really that the military didn’t hang onto the railroads for longer than they needed to, it was apparently costing the government $1,300,000 per month to keep the military railroads up to scratch so they were extremely keen to hand them back to their former owners.
It was a win win situation for the owners of the railroad but not so good for its employees, if they wanted to maintain an income and keep their jobs on the railroads then they had to do as their new employers wanted, in this case it was the military. I bet a lot of those railroad crews were thinking to themselves ‘I didn’t sign up for this’ but it was essential work and their skills were required, unfortunately the work that the crews were expected to do made them legitimate targets of war.
So, I guess, at the time it didn’t matter if they were enlisted or not, it was a very risk enterprise for all involved.

Allow me the opportunity to provide some facts in support of what you have stated, rather broadly.

No. 1- General Meigs writes Secretary of War Stanton, Aug. 21, 1865, that when he returned from Missouri on leave of duty… “he had found that the great lines diverging from Nashville, though ordered to be turned over under authority of the Secretary of War, dated July 21, 1865 were still under Government control, and he is informed that no responsible parties have as yet qualified themselves to take charge of them.” Adding…” Schedules of all rolling stock and railroad equipment the property f the United States are being prepared with a view to their sale.” [pgs. 101-102].

No. 2- On July 23, 1865 Brevet-Major J. D. Webster submitted a report to General Grant from Macon, Ga. He was given special orders to inspect the railroads of the south and then report to General Sherman, and recommended the following; that the rails being operated by the U. S. be turned over to their respective companies as soon as possible to loyal, competent officers that can be elected by them, so the accounts can be properly adjusted. Webster doubted the Government’s ability to operate the roads at a premium. That the U. S. not put the roads into thorough repair merely for the benefit of the companies. All work except what is found necessary for the safety of trains be suspended.
“All repairs to locomotives and cars in which the companies have any claim should be stopped at once, as should also the rolling mill at Chattanooga.” [pg. 102]
To adjust accounts, after explaining his own opinions of what would be right and that which should be considered wrong, it was later left up to the courts to decide. Webster claimed that due to the voluntary use of the railroads as an aid to the rebels, no claim for damages should be entertained for a moment (remunerations). Finally he advised that all future obligations for transporting troops and supplies for the convenience of the Government be agreed upon before handing the ownership to them.

Special Orders, No. 328, dated June 23, 1865
“No. 5,- BVT. Maj. Gen. J. D. Webster, U. S. Volunteers, is hereby temporarily detached from the staff of Maj. Gen. W. T. Sherman, and will proceed without delay on a tour of inspections of the railroads of the Southern States, reporting upon their present condition and ability to transport the U. S. Mails. In his report he will consider all the subjects mentioned in the letter of instructions which will be given him, and such other matters pertaining to the Southern railroads as in his investigations may suggest themselves. Etc.
Upon the execution of this order General Webster will report to Major-General Sherman for duty. By command of Lieutenant-General Grant.” [pg.59].

Tennessee auditor’s report for that Department showed an average payment for men employed per month at $779, 644.85. Number of men employed, fiscal year, 13, 043.
All accounts by audit prepared for payment, avg. $940,734.95 per month; total, $11,288,819.78 for the year fiscal year of June 30, 1864- July 1, 1865. [pg.86].
Cost of labor in June and July, payroll; for June, $117,866,.91; for July, $76,361. [pg.100]

No. 3- “The agreement made early in the war with a convention of railroad companies has continued in force through all the changes in values which the war has brought. [pg.230].

As of Nov. 8, 1865, nearly all the railroads had been transferred over to either presidents, directors or [board of public works (Virginia)]. “In the Atlantic States was the policy has been to deliver up the roads in whatever condition they were left by the fortune of war at the moment of transfer.” [pg. 234].
All questions of ownership, material claims, and such as in depot were left for decision in the courts. “The United States merely retires, leaving the lawful owners to resume their property.” [235].
All the materials collected and not used were sold back to the companies at a fair valuation, and upon credit, plus or minus.
“The rolling stock and moveable machinery have been hired to the railroads desiring their use until arrangement s could be made for a sale.” [pg. 235].
Source: Official Records, Series 3, Volume 5.

Thank you for replying @Waterloo50, my Sunday evening would have been much duller without it.
Lubliner.
 

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