Locomotives Up the Turnpike, by Dave Bright
I’m pleased to announce the availability of a new volume, Locomotives Up the Turnpike: The Civil War career of Quartermaster Captain Thomas R. Sharp, C.S.A., by my friend and colleague, Dave Bright. From the Amazon description:
When the Civil War began, the railroads of the Confederate States had the immense job of collecting the men, supplies and equipment needed to create a government and its armed forces. Railroads had never been used in the direct support of a war and the new nation soon learned that its railroad resources were far short of what would be needed. Thomas R. Sharp, a young Richmond-based railroad superintendent was tapped by the new government to haul to the Confederate railroads the cars and locomotives captured by the future Stonewall Jackson from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad near Martinsburg, Virginia.
Sharp hired dozens of men and hundreds of horses and wagons to haul the rolling stock south on the Valley of Virginia Turnpike, from Martinsburg and Harper’s Ferry to Winchester to Strasburg. Seventeen locomotives and well over 100 cars were hauled over the country roads to intersections with the Manassas Gap Railroad and the Virginia Central Railroad, then on to Richmond.
The locomotives had been burned before Capt. Sharp could begin to haul them, and he had to essentially take them apart to reduce the weight to be hauled. This led to Sharp being assigned to repair the locomotives, as well as haul them. While some repairing was accomplished in Richmond, most was done in the Confederate Locomotive Shop, in Raleigh, created and run by Sharp.
By the summer of 1863, Sharp had been assigned to be the superintendent of the Charlotte & South Carolina Railroad, a critical road in the supply chain supporting Richmond and the main Confederate army. Later, Sharp was given responsibility for coordinating the railroad transportation of all of central and western South Carolina. As Gen. Sherman approached, in 1865, Sharp assisted in the evacuation of Columbia, and then worked to improve the railroads between Charlotte and Salisbury, N. C. Capt.
Sharp’s story has never been told before and is a unique adventure.
Dave is the creator of the Confederate Railroads website, that is a unique and valuable reference for anyone interested in rail transportation in the South. I was pleased and honored to be asked to contribute illustrations and maps (a section of the Richmond map, above) to Locomotives Up the Turnpike, and I hope others will enjoy this unusual and, until now, untold story.