The real gap between the two railroad systems.

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
A few years ago, I came across one of John Keegan's books about the CW. One chapter in particular intrigued me. I discussed the South's RR's. There was a map that at a single glance explained the South's deficiency. What we would think of as a simple route from a to b was anything but.

When Longstreet was dispatched to reinforce Bragg, you would assume a simple direct route due south to Augusta Ga then straight over to Atlanta and finally straight up to Chattanooga. There were gaps which would have necessitated detraining and marching to pick up the rail again. At least some of the troops and equipment would have swung all the way to Charleston on the coast. Not to mention that due to the differences in track gauges, even if there was rail coming into and out of a given town necessitating completely unloading and reloading all the men and supplies.
You are right. Another choke point was the increased loss of draft animals to the army. The drayage needed to haul trainloads of supplies from one side of town to the other was in critical decline. No wagons & miles, no rail road.
 

wausaubob

Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
Almost all the railroads that mattered were in the 75 to 150 mile range. The very short roads (Clinton & Port Gibson, Blue Ridge, etc) rarely connected to the main lines or were leased or operated by the main lines.

The gauge issue won't die!!! There was only one outlier, the Montgomery & West Point RR deliberately used a different gauge from those it connected to. The only other gauge issue was between the two large blocks of roads -- one of narrow gauge and one of broad gauge (as they called them). This issue was no different that any other gauge question throughout the world -- there were reasons for starting with one gauge and usually the roads stayed with that gauge (and influenced new construction that would interact with the existing road to use that same gauge) until later than our period.

Connection between the 2 blocks of roads caused breaking bulk at Charlotte, Wilmington, Lynchburg, Petersburg, and Richmond --the interface between the Virginia/North Carolina block and the rest of the South.
Gauge could be changed. And was changed, when the labor force was available. What was possible for the Kentucky railroads utilized by the US Army was difficult or impossible for the Confederate system. Again, its a labor force issue. The US had a larger industrial work force to begin with. It had women workers in light industry, more immigrants by 1863 and larger numbers of freedmen and freed women, filling in thousands of support positions in the US economy.
 

wausaubob

Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
The critical factor was that Union RR capacity increased as the war went on & CSA RR assets went into steeper decline. The Nashville depot dispatched a train an hour 24/7 on the N&CRR. The repair shop in Chattanooga built new engines. Rolling stock from RR’s all over North East were used to support the Atlanta Campaign. Nothing like that happened on CSA RR’s.

In 1864, the US Army Quartermaster had 11,000 brown water & shallow draft vessels. It was the integration of the riverine, canal & rail assets that made the US logistical system work.
This is McCallum's description of the Nashville rail yard:
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https://books.google.com/books?id=4...llum United States Military Railroads&f=false p.19
By 1864 Andrew Johnson must have looked a genius in Nashville. The city had to have been flush with railroad money and military money. There was everything from warehouses, to theaters and even legalized prostitution. Store owners and banks had to be making money under those circumstances.
 

wausaubob

Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
As I read through McCallum's end of war report, it becomes obvious that Andrew Johnson had become a very important figure by October 1863. He remained loyal to the US and unlike Sam Houston, Johnson was not isolated among secessionists. Nashville was Johnson's capital and railroad money was pouring into Nashville. Knoxville was Johnson's political home, as well as the birthplace of David Farragut. Once Burnside got as far as Knoxville, Burnside's reputation was restored. Anything that would have released Bragg from Chattanooga and allowed him to swallow up Burnside's force was not going to be allowed to stand. Whether Rosecrans ever intended to evacuate Chattanooga, any loose talk of that nature was fuel that Dana could use to undermine General Rosecrans.
The entire logistical system in Kentucky and Tennessee was being redesigned to make it an important theater, second only to Virginia.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
As I read through McCallum's end of war report, it becomes obvious that Andrew Johnson had become a very important figure by October 1863. He remained loyal to the US and unlike Sam Houston, Johnson was not isolated among secessionists. Nashville was Johnson's capital and railroad money was pouring into Nashville. Knoxville was Johnson's political home, as well as the birthplace of David Farragut. Once Burnside got as far as Knoxville, Burnside's reputation was restored. Anything that would have released Bragg from Chattanooga and allowed him to swallow up Burnside's force was not going to be allowed to stand. Whether Rosecrans ever intended to evacuate Chattanooga, any loose talk of that nature was fuel that Dana could use to undermine General Rosecrans.
The entire logistical system in Kentucky and Tennessee was being redesigned to make it an important theater, second only to Virginia.
I haven’t read anything in Dana’s reports about an evacuation plan. It is hard to imagine what such a plan would have amounted to
 

wausaubob

Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
I haven’t read anything in Dana’s reports about an evacuation plan. It is hard to imagine what such a plan would have amounted to
It is difficult to believe it could have been anything other than an offhand remark. But then Joe Hooker was in the theater and Hooker would not have been pleased with what he saw the westerners had to put up with in terms of logistical support, compared to the way things were back east. Rosecrans' problems escalated once Hooker got to Bridgeport, while General Hooker was waiting for his livestock and wagons.
If Hooker said anything it might have along the lines of: you call this a railroad?
 
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Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
It is difficult to believe it could have been anything other than an offhand remark. But then Joe Hooker was in the theater and Hooker would not have been pleased with what he saw the westerners had to put up with in terms of logistical support, compared to the way things were back east. Rosecrans problems escalated once Hooker got to Bridgeport, while General Hooker was waiting for his livestock and wagons.
If Hooker said anything it might have along the lines of: you call this a railroad?
Everybody said that. The Sanitary Commission communications a filled with vivid descriptions of what a ramshackle outfit the N&CRR was. When the president of the RR fled south in his private car there were 1,300 broken rails on the line. The light British rails used by the N&C couldn’t handle the early wartime traffic.
 

wausaubob

Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
Everybody said that. The Sanitary Commission communications a filled with vivid descriptions of what a ramshackle outfit the N&CRR was. When the president of the RR fled south in his private car there were 1,300 broken rails on the line. The light British rails used by the N&C couldn’t handle the early wartime traffic.
Its hard to know what transpired. But Hooker and the easterners had to be vividly aware of the difference between the Ohio and Indiana roads and the Tennessee Road.
 
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