Tennessee Civil War Railroad History

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Tennessee Civil War Railroad Battles and Skirmishes

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Railroad bridge spanning Cumberland River at Nashville.

(About) Nashville, Tenn. Fortified railroad bridge across Cumberland River. Barnard, George N., 1819-1902, photographer. Summary: Photograph of the War in the West. This photo is of Hood before Nashville. Continuing his policy of the offensive at any cost, Gen. John B. Hood brought his reduced army before the defenses of Nashville, where it was overthrown by Gen. George H. Thomas on December 15-16, in the most complete victory of the war. The photo was taken during the battle. Published 1864. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-cwpb-02092 (digital file from original neg. of left half) LC-DIG-cwpb-02093 (digital file from original neg. of right half) LC-B8171-2642 (b&w film neg.). Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. LOC.

History Tennessee Railroad-Related Military Events Sorted by Date Pictures
11/8/1861 Skirmish at Strawberry Plains Bridge Union attempt to burn bridge which was thwarted by Confederates
11/8/1861 East Tennessee Unionist Bridge Burnings The Hiwasee, Strawberry Plains, Watauga, and two bridges over the Chickamauga were hit.
11/10/1861 Skirmish near Bristol Bridge near Bristol burned, skirmish, won by CSA, ensues nearby, threats of burning Watauga bridge
2/6/1862 Destruction of railroad tracks by men from the USN "Tyler"
2/8/1862 Destruction of Memphis & Bowling Green RR Bridge Destruction of railroad bridge by USN and two companies of sharpshooters, Rebels had abandoned
2/18/1862 Clarksville railroad bridge burned Confederates destroyed bridge as they retreated back to Nashville
3/13/1862 Destruction of Beach Creek Bridge Destruction of bridge located between Bethel and Brown Station, W TN
3/15/1862 Taking of the station at Gallatin Morgan raided Gallatin destroying the fed train supplies he could find there
3/25/1862 Destruction of rails near Tullahoma
3/31/1862 Capture of Union City Union fired two cars after the two locomotives there had escaped
4/7/1862 Pittinger's Raid on Georgia State Railroad
4/11/1862 Skirmish at Wartrace Skirmish so alarmed Union that they stopped running trains on the N & C for awhile
4/29/1862 Raid on the Mob & O near Bethel Station Union troops destroyed 2 bridges and captured a locomotive and train men
5/4/1862 Action near Bethel Union cavalry, under enemy fire, burned 3 bridges, destroyed a portion of track and telegraph wire
5/9/1862 Skirmish on Elk River, near Bethel 1st KY Cavalry attacked Union guards at trestle work on Elk river, capturing it and its guards
5/30/1862 Cypress Creek Bridge burned Confederates burned a great deal of railroad equipment as they retreated south
6/7/1862 Attack on Chattanooga by James S. Negley Union forces attacked a Confderate forse, putting them to flight. The Rebels torched 2 bridges
6/25/1862 Affair near La Fayette Station Rebels attacked a train that had derailed, capturing a handful of Union passengers
7/13/1862 Destruction of Murfreesboro depot and railroad Forrest attacked Murfreesboro, destroying the railroad and depot there. Retreated to McMinnville
7/21/1862 Destruction of bridge near Nashville Forrest went down the Lebanon road to within 5 miles of Nashville and burned a bridge & trestle work
7/25/1862 Attack on Grand Junction Wheeler attacked and destroyed the railroad at Grand Junction.
7/26/1862 Attack on rail near Bolivar Wheeler burned some bridges between Bolivar and Jackson
8/12/1862 Morgan at Gallatin Morgan destroyed a tunnel, bridge, trestle work, and cars, as well as captured Gallatin and 220 men
8/19/1862 Raid on L & N While attacking Gallatin, Morgan sent some men to burn the trestles at Saundersville
8/27/1862 Skirmish at Reynold's Station, N & D RR No circumstantial reports filed
8/29/1862 Forrest's attack on Guest Hollow Stockade Forrest attacked federal stockade and was repulsed. He burned bridges on retreat
8/30/1862 Armstrong's raid on Medon Station Armstrong's men attacked Medon and cut the railroad at this point
9/5/1862 Skirmish near Humboldt at Burnt Bridge Rebels attacked Burnt Bridge setting it on fire. They are later repulsed and the bridge is saved.
10/5/1862 Skirmish at Chewalla Small skirmish took place at the water-tank.
10/7/1862 Skirmish at LaVergne Negley repulsed Forrest in this contest, capturing and destroying 3 railroad cars.
10/23/1862 Skirmish at Shelby Depot Rebels set fire to bridge. Upon dispersement of the rebels, the federals put out the fire.
10/25/1862 Cox's Raid on Henderson's Station Rebels moved into Henderson's Station, drove off federals, and fired the station & bridge
10/31/1862 Skirmish at "Dead Horse Trestle" Morgan engaged the federals, routing them, then burned trestles to prevent RR use by feds.
11/25/1862 Henderson's Station Bridge May be same event as 10/25/62 raid: women bucket brigade save bridge after rebels fire it
12/18/1862 Destruction of Webb's Station Col. Dibrell was sent to Webb's Station to tear up track and destroy telegraph wire
12/19/1862 Affair at Carroll Station Forrest destroyed the track around Carroll Station and fired upon a passing train
12/20/1862 Attack at Humboldt Stanes' detachment of Forrest's Brigade captured both railroads running into town, destroying them
12/21/1862 Destruction of bridges near Moscow and over the Obion River Forrest destroyed the bridge over the bayou near Moscow and the bridges over the Obion River
12/21/1862 Destruction of Trenton Station Forrest fired Trenton Depot after having captured the city
12/21/1862 Destruction of track between Trenton and Kenton After destroying Trenton, Forrest moved toward Union City destroying all track until Kenton
12/23/1862 Destruction of railroads around Union City After capturing Union City, Forrest destroyed track on both the Mob & O and N & NW
12/24/1862 Destruction of railroad from McKenzie Station to Union City Forrest spent Christmas Eve & Christmas Day destroying the railroad line form McKenzie to Union City
12/30/1862 Destruction of the Holston and Watauga railroad bridges Carter made a raid into East TN and destroyed the Watauga and Holston Bridges as he went.
1/25/1863 Burning of train near Antioch Confederate guerillas attacked a train at Mill Creek Bridge, begin burning it, but are stopped
3/19/1863 Skirmish at Richland Station Confederate guerillas attacked a passenger train, knocking it from the track, were stopped by union
3/21/1863 Attack on a railroad train, Grand Junction Confederate guerillas derailed a construction train and unsuccessfully tried to capture a pay train.
3/25/1863 Attack on Brentwood Forrest attacked Brentwood burning the bridge and capturing the command stationed there.
3/29/1863 Affair at Moscow Guerillas attacked a passenger train, robbing the passengers and capturing the soldiers on board.
4/9/1863 Affair near Antioch Ferrill, under Wheeler's command, attacked a train, firing into it, killing 100 men, freeing 40 rebs
4/9/1863 Affair near Nashville Wheeler attacked a train northeast of Nashville. Unable to cross the river, he shot cannon at it.
4/10/1863 Affair at Antioch Station Rebel cavalry attacked a train near La Vergne, routed the guard, and set fire to seven cars.
4/10/1863 Skirmish at La Vergne A guerilla force attacked a train near La Vergne, the cars were destroyed.
4/20/1863 Destruction of M & M RR not available
5/21/1863 Destruction of trestle near Clarksville 20th KY Infantry noticed trestle had been burned while scouting around Clarksville
6/19/1863 Destruction of railroad between Lenoir Station and Knoxville Col. Sanders had the ET & G destroyed every mile or so between Lenoir Station and Knoxville
6/20/1863 Destruction of bridges near Strawberry Plains Col. Sanders destroyed the small bridges between Knoxville and Strawberry Plains during his raid.
6/21/1863 Destruction of railroad around Mossy Creek Bridge While moving through the Mossy Creek region, Col. Sanders had the railroad destroyed if convenient.
6/29/1863 Destruction of Tracy City Railroad track After moving into the area, Col. Wilder destroyed the Tracy City RR.
7/13/1863 Bridge across Big Hatchie River discovered burned Union troops scouting around Bolivar discovered the Big Hatchie Bridge burned
7/18/1863 Track damaged near Germantown Rebels tore up track two miles from Germantown.
7/30/1863 Burning of trestle near Middleton Col. Richardson had his men burn a trestle and tear down telegraph wire as a memento of passing by.
8/21/1863 Burning of Nickajack Bridge Union troops fired the Nickajack Bridge in order to break reb communications along N & C RR.
9/2/1863 Capture of Knoxville When Burnside captured Knoxville, his troops came into possession of 2 locomotives and several cars.
9/6/1863 Capture of train near Morristown Burnside captures a train outside Morristown as he moves through East Tennessee
9/19/1863 Occupation of Bristol by Federal troops After occupying Bristol, the feds tore up the railroad and burned bridges 2 miles above the town
10/4/1863 Wheeler attacks McMinnville Wheeler spent the evening of October 4 destroying the railroad around McMinnville
10/5/1863 Wheeler attacks Murfreesboro After moving to Murfreesboro, Wheeler captures a bridge across Stones River and destroys it.
10/5/1863 Affair at Christiana Colonel Harrison moved his troops into Christiana, capturing the town and destroying RR material.
10/9/1863 Affair at Cowan
10/11/1863 Operations on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad Burrow's cavalry unit drove the Feds away from White's station and then destroyed much of the RR
10/15/1863 Occupation of Zollicoffer Upon occupying Zollicoffer, Union cavalry proceeded to destroy much of the RR surrounding the city.
10/26/1863 Guerilla Attack on train at Gallatin Tunnel Guerillas placed a torpedo on the track just south of Gallatin Tunnel, which later wrecked a train.
10/28/1863 Burning of bridge at Wauhatchie As the rebels retreated from the advancing federals, they burned a railroad bridge.
11/3/1863 Destruction of track at Collierville During the battle, rebels commenced with destroying track around Collierville at 3 am on Nov. 5
11/24/1863 Raid on ET & G RR 11/25- Kitchell tore up track near Tyner's Station in 7-8 places, 26-destroyed track near Cleveland
11/25/1863 Burning of Ooltewah Bridge Fourth Michigan Cavalry spent the morning of 11/25 destroying the Ooltewah Bridge.
11/26/1863 Burning of Chickamauga Station Upon retreating from Chickamauga Station in the face of Sherman's advance, rebs fired the depot.
11/29/1863 Destruction of bridges at Calhoun During his retreat, Col. Carter was ordered to destroy the bridges near Calhoun to stop fed advance.
12/2/1863 Track destruction at Saulsbury Lee descended upon Saulsbury, destroyed 2 miles of track and bent the rails.
12/4/1863 Trestle Work at La Fayette Forrest destroyed 100 yards of trestling on his move from La Fayette to Moscow.
12/6/1863 Affair near Fayetteville Rebels attack a guard to a working party taking up rails at Fayetteville and burn a bridge at Salem
12/25/1863 Burning of Train near La Vergne Rebels attacked and fired a train. Federals drove them off and saved all but one car.
12/27/1863 Bridge at Collierville
3/16/1864 Raid on N & C RR, near Tullahoma Rebels forced train off track and fired it. Federals drove them off and saved all but 3 cars.
6/23/1864 Attack on train near La Fayette Guerillas fired on a train near La Fayette, killing and wounding several people.
8/15/1864 Raid on the N & NW RR Guerillas attacked the N & NW destroying 600 cords of wood and capturing some of the employees.
8/17/1864 Wheeler's Raid on Cleveland After being repulsed in his attack on Cleveland, Wheeler cut the telegraph wire and tore up track
8/24/1864 Skirmish at Strawberry Plains Bridge (1864) On the night of 8/24, Wheeler's men tried to burn the bridge, but were foiled by the garrison there.
8/30/1864 Skirmish at Tracy City Wheeler attacked and drove in a small force at Tracy City, and destroyed a railroad bridge.
9/1/1864 Destruction of Railroad near Campbell's Station Wheeler destroyed 5 miles of track near Campbell's Station during his retreat from Rosecrans
9/2/1864 Stopping of a train near Murfreesboro Rebels stop a train by piling wood on the tracks. Retreat when feds on train open fire.
9/4/1864 Action near Elk River Bridge Wheeler destroyed a portion of the track and telegraph line before retiring toward Sulfer Branch.
9/26/1864 Forrest's raid on Elkton Forrest found the Elkton block-house deserted and had it destroyed along with surrounding materials.
9/27/1864 Destruction of RR between Pulaski and Columbia Forrest moved toward Columbia and proceeded to destroy all railroad and track to Columbia.
9/28/1864 Destruction of RR near Tullahoma Forrest ordered the N & C above and below Tullahoma to be cut by Boone and Kelleher.
10/1/1864 Action near Columbia Forrest marched toward Columbia, burning all block-houses and bridges he came across.
10/10/1864 Affair at South Tunnel, Gallatin Confederates attacked the South Tunnel, driving away the guard, and tore up the track there.
10/16/1864 Skirmish at Mossy Creek Confederates attack bridge and route guard, but due to small force size was unable to fire bridge.
10/18/1864 Raid on the N & NW RR (1864) Guerillas attacked the N & NW, destroying the tracks, and burning a train and firing into others.
10/21/1864 Destruction of RR near Russellville Palmer moved toward Russellville, destroyed all track in the vicinity, and returned to Bull's Gap.
11/5/1864 Attack on Johnsonville Forrest attacked Johnsonville and burned many RR buildings there.
12/2/1864 Operations against stockades and block-houses on the N & C RR Rebels attacked block-houses and stockades up and down the N & C.
12/6/1864 Lyon's raid on RR near Clarksville Lyon made an attempt on Clarksville. Finding it well defended, he tore up track near it.
12/13/1864 Attack on railroad train near Murfreesboro Rebels set fire to track, stopping and firing on a train. Feds clear the track and save the train.
12/15/1864 Capture of railroad train near Murfreesboro Rebels cut the track near Murfreesboro, capture a train, and burn it after routing its guard.
2/16/1865 Attack on Railroad at Athens and Sweet Water Vaughn attacked the railroad at Athens and Sweet Water, capturing the garrison at both places.

Source: Middle Tennessee State University

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Recommended Reading: Stealing the General: The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal of Honor. Description: "The Great Locomotive Chase has been the stuff of legend and the darling of Hollywood. Now we have a solid history of the Andrews Raid. Russell S. Bonds’ stirring account makes clear why the raid failed and what happened to the raiders."—James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

On April 12, 1862 -- one year to the day after Confederate guns opened on Fort Sumter -- a tall, mysterious smuggler and self-appointed Union spy named James J. Andrews and nineteen infantry volunteers infiltrated north Georgia and stole a steam engine referred to as  the General. Racing northward at speeds approaching sixty miles an hour, cutting telegraph lines and destroying track along the way, Andrews planned to open East Tennessee to the Union army, cutting off men and materiel from the Confederate forces in Virginia. If they succeeded, Andrews and his raiders could change the course of the war. But the General’s young conductor, William A. Fuller, chased the stolen train first on foot, then by handcar, and finally aboard another engine, the Texas. He pursued the General until, running out of wood and water, Andrews and his men abandoned the doomed locomotive, ending the adventure that would soon be famous as The Great Locomotive Chase, but not the ordeal of the soldiers involved. In the days that followed, the "engine thieves" were hunted down and captured. Eight were tried and executed as spies, including Andrews. Eight others made a daring escape to freedom, including two assisted by a network of slaves and Union sympathizers. For their actions, before a personal audience with President Abraham Lincoln, six of the raiders became the first men in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor -- the nation's highest decoration for gallantry. Americans north and south, both at the time and ever since, have been astounded and fascinated by this daring raid. Until now, there has not been a complete history of the entire episode and the fates of all those involved. Based on eyewitness accounts, as well as correspondence, diaries, military records, newspaper reports, deposition testimony and other primary sources, Stealing the General: The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal of Honor by Russell S. Bonds is a blend of meticulous research and compelling narrative that is destined to become the definitive history of "the boldest adventure of the war."

 

Recommended Reading: The Railroads of the Confederacy (400 pages) (The University of North Carolina Press) (April 15, 1998). Description: Originally published by UNC Press in 1952, The Railroads of the Confederacy tells the story of the first use of railroads on a major scale in a major war. Robert Black presents a complex and fascinating tale, with the railroads of the American South playing the part of tragic hero in the Civil War: at first vigorous though immature; then overloaded, driven unmercifully, starved for iron; and eventually worn out—struggling on to inevitable destruction in the wake of Sherman's army, carrying the Confederacy down with them. Continued below...

With maps of all the Confederate railroads and contemporary photographs and facsimiles of such documents as railroad tickets, timetables, and soldiers' passes, the book will captivate railroad enthusiasts as well as readers interested in the Civil War.

 

Recommended Reading: Civil War Railroads: A Pictorial Story of the War Between the States, 1861-1865 (Hardcover: 192 pages) (Publisher: Indiana University Press). Description: With more than 220 black and white photographs from the National Archives, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, and private collections across the country, this is the essential pictorial guide for all those interested in the role of the Iron Horse in the American Civil War. Like all wars, the Civil War was not all gunfire and panic. It was supply and transport, trains and trouble on the line, men in Blue and Gray fighting against almost unbelievable odds with lumbering, woodburning engines. Continued below...

About the Author: George B. Abdill, Civil War Railroads: A Pictorial Story of the War Between the States, 1861-1865, before his death, was a railroader's writer--A working hoghead on the Southern Pacific's Portland Division and historian of the great days of steam. His special gift was as a collector of truly remarkable photographs illustrating the pioneering days of the railroads. And he had a special place in his heart for military railroaders since he, himself, served with the 744th Railway Operation Battalion during World War II, running his engine in France, Belgium, and Germany. He had first-hand knowledge of railroading under fire.

 

Recommended Reading: A History of the American Locomotive: Its Development, 1830-1880 (Trains) (528 pages). Description: Important and beautifully illustrated volume chronicles the explosive growth of the American locomotive from British imports to grand ten-wheelers of the 1870s. Over 240 vintage photographs, drawings, and diagrams tell the exciting tale. Includes comprehensive introduction, appendices and index. Continued below...

Superb and scholarly effort from Mr. White is readable and laudable, and he offers to us enormous access to the best pictures.

 
Recommended Viewing: The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns. Review: The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns is the most successful public-television miniseries in American history. The 11-hour Civil War didn't just captivate a nation, reteaching to us our history in narrative terms; it actually also invented a new film language taken from its creator. When people describe documentaries using the "Ken Burns approach," its style is understood: voice-over narrators reading letters and documents dramatically and stating the writer's name at their conclusion, fresh live footage of places juxtaposed with still images (photographs, paintings, maps, prints), anecdotal interviews, and romantic musical scores taken from the era he depicts. Continued below...
The Civil War uses all of these devices to evoke atmosphere and resurrect an event that many knew only from stale history books. While Burns is a historian, a researcher, and a documentarian, he's above all a gifted storyteller, and it's his narrative powers that give this chronicle its beauty, overwhelming emotion, and devastating horror. Using the words of old letters, eloquently read by a variety of celebrities, the stories of historians like Shelby Foote and rare, stained photos, Burns allows us not only to relearn and finally understand our history, but also to feel and experience it. "Hailed as a film masterpiece and landmark in historical storytelling." "[S]hould be a requirement for every student."

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