Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Civil War Books & Authors’ Review of Locomotives

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 4, 2017

Tyson Ten Wheeler Combined with Bands 720

Over at Civil War Books and Authors, Andrew Wagenhoffer gives a solid review to Dave Bright’s Locomotives Up the Turnpike:

About half the narrative is devoted to Bright’s meticulously reconstructed account of the Haul. In addition to being both a testament to still heavily discounted Confederate engineering prowess and the literature’s first truly comprehensive and primary source based history of the event, the book very effectively counters the many naysayers past and present. Contrary to common belief, abundant evidence that the event truly happened exists in the archives, and Bright was able to compile hundreds of these primary source documents as the backbone of his study. The mental image of teams of men and horses dragging enormously heavy locomotives down primitive roads probably dominates the thinking of the doubters, but the truth of the matter is that much of the engine and rolling stock was either wholly or partially burned prior to the removal operation, and the locomotives were significantly dismantled (as an example, wooden engine trucks were often substituted for the metal trucks to lower the weight) before being moved. The processing, organization, and routes of these equipment convoys are detailed in the text. . .

The book is abundantly illustrated with photographs, original maps, and color artwork. For the benefit of the reader, a vast number of tables organize data of all kinds. In the appendix section, one can find among other things an effective summary rebuttal of the Haul’s detractors, full ‘biographies’ of the locomotives saved through the Haul, and rosters of the hundreds of men (and a few women) employed by Sharp during his various postings and operations in Virginia and the Carolinas.

On several levels, Locomotives Up the Turnpike is a significant contribution to the railroad history of the Confederacy. Its unique and exhaustive documentation of the famous Haul means that other authors finally have a proper source to refer to in their own work, and the question of whether the event actually occurred or not seems more than convincingly answered. Bright’s study also extends proper recognition to the architect of the Haul, while in the process bringing to light Captain Sharp’s other equally important services to the Confederate war effort. Finally, the book offers useful accounts of how some of the many logistical challenges of the Confederacy’s Atlantic railroad network were addressed by military, state, and Richmond authorities. Recommended.

Go check it out, y’all.

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3 Responses

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  1. woodrowfan said, on May 14, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these graphics!!!

    • Andy Hall said, on May 14, 2017 at 4:38 pm

      Thanks. Both the graphics and the narrative turned out to be more intensive projects than Dave or I expected initially, but I think they came out well in the end. It’s an amazing story. I’d heard about it vaguely before, but was not familiar enough with it to realize that it was controversial as to whether it had even really happened (!). There are so many amazing stories remaining to be told.

      • woodrowfan said, on May 18, 2017 at 9:02 pm

        My fav is still the Hunley, and its sister ship, the big yellow schoolbus.


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