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The Railroads (Part 3)

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The above map, taken from the 1911 Joseph W. Rich book, The Battle of Shiloh, is the best to be found showing the railroads in vicinity of Pittsburg-Corinth, and surrounding area in March 1862. We tend to focus on the Memphis & Charleston and Mobile & Ohio railroads, particularly their intersection at Corinth; and forget about all the other lines (the existence of which made 'the efforts to cut the strategic Southern railroads' all the more difficult.)

The rail lines shown on Rich's Map are as follows:

  • Memphis & Charleston RR     on the map, runs east from Memphis through Corinth and beyond; parallels the Tennessee River (south bank) until crossing to the north bank, just east of Decatur. Completed in 1857, passage from Charleston to Memphis could be accomplished in 42 hours before 1861. Soon after the war began, the same journey took ten days or more, due to need to check crossings and bridges for sabotage; and preserve deteriorating tracks and ties by operating at slower speeds.
  • Mobile & Ohio RR    running northwest from Mobile, the line appears on the map passing through Corinth, Jackson Tennessee, Humboldt, Union City and Columbus (with a northwest branch line to Hickman, Kentucky from Union City.) The feeder line running from Union City, northeast to Paducah, belonged to the New Orleans & Ohio RR. Each of the stations -- Corinth, Jackson, Humboldt and Union City -- presented problems for Federal forces due to the fact other rail lines connected at those stations, allowing damaged track to be bypassed. [On the map, the section of trestle destroyed by Lew Wallace on March 13, 1862 is indicated by "Purdy." Confederate troops moving from Union City south to Corinth could avoid that damaged trestle by riding the M&O to Jackson Tennessee (change trains); ride the Central of Mississippi to Grand Junction (change trains); and complete the journey to Corinth aboard the Memphis & Charleston.] Replacing torn up, bowtie-bent steel rails was problematic, because the South imported about 90 percent of her railroad rails from Great Britain; and the blockade was effective at preventing most of that material from getting through.
  • Central of Mississippi RR    west of Corinth, it appears on the map as an unnamed intersection with the M&C RR (Grand Junction), having begun at Canton, Mississippi, passed through Holly Springs, Grand Junction, Bolivar, and terminating at Jackson Tennessee (where a connection with the Mobile & Ohio was available. Note: most railroad terminals in the South, although 'appearing' to be at the same town or city, were actually hundreds of yards-to-several miles apart, requiring getting off one line, hike a fair distance, and board a new train.) The Central of Mississippi was one of two lines still available for Confederate use, after Lew Wallace cut the Mobile & Ohio north of Bethel Station on March 13, 1862. [From Canton, Mississippi, the New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern RR ran south to New Orleans.]
  • Memphis & Ohio RR    ran northeast from Memphis through Humboldt (where connection with Mobile & Ohio was available) through to McKenzie (connection with Louisville & Nashville) and ended at Paris Tennessee (where transfer to the Memphis, Clarksville & Louisville RR enabled the journey to be completed to the Ohio River.)
  • Louisville & Nashville RR    ran from Union City southeast to McKenzie (where connection to Memphis & Ohio possible). Although the map indicates travel between McKenzie and Nashville was possible, this section was mostly improved bed, with no rails laid (although Federal troops completed the line during the war; and the L&N was able to emerge from the war strong, and absorb many of the financially struggling lines into the L&N network.) The section of line from Nashville north through Bowling Green to Louisville was completed in 1859.
  • Memphis, Clarksville & Louisville RR    on the map, begins at Paris (where it connected to Memphis & Ohio) and runs east and northeast to Clarksville; and continued on to Bowling Green (where connection to L&N available.) The M,C&L RR suffered from Phelp's Raid of February 1862, when its bridge a few miles upstream of Fort Henry was rendered unserviceable.
  • Tennessee & Alabama RR   ran south from Nashville, through to Columbia. Completed in 1860, the section south from Columbia operated as the Nashville & Decatur RR, with southern terminus at Decatur. [The Memphis & Charleston also passed through Decatur, on the left bank of the Tennessee, and crossed the Tennessee River just east of that railroad town, to run along the north bank of the river through Huntsville, Stevenson, Bridgeport... and on to Chattanooga and beyond.]


For anyone with an interest in Civil War railroads...



References:  http://www.csa-railroads.com/    Confederate Railroads




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