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tv   American Artifacts BO Railroad the Civil War  CSPAN  December 30, 2017 10:00am-10:31am EST

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enforce the law in many northern communities, particularly black communities. 8:00, we will tour the national world war i museum and memorial in kansas city. >> i think it is an extremely -- extraordinary story of grassroots support and grassroots funding to pay for what turned out to be an >> american history tv this weekend, only on c-span3. artifactsek, american takes you to museums and historic places. mr. toomey: hi. i'm dan toomey, guest curator at the baltimore railroad museum, and this is "the war came by train" exhibit. this exhibit is the largest civil war railroad exhibit ever presented. it coincides with the american civil war sesquicentennial. it runs for five years, and changes each year to address
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that year of the war. the interesting aspect of the exhibit is the fact that we are on location, that many of the events that took place with the b & o railroad were in this exact area. we have the very equipment used by the railroad during the civil war, and we present a bottom up history of the railroad during the civil war by presenting the technologies and the people that were involved with riding, guarding, destroying, building, and operating the railroad during the civil war years. this would be an entire area of activity. there were paint shops. there were carpentry shops, car shops. they were casting of rail. there were machine shops. they were building bridge parts, rails, continuously loading these things on trains. and, as the confederates would damage a section of track or blow up a bridge, the repair crews would go out. they would pull out damage. they'd load it on the cars,
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bring it back here, and recycle it. i firmly believe that at the outbreak of the war, the first 90 days, the baltimore and ohio railroad was the first military and political objective of the war. both the confederate states and the united states were playing good cop, bad cop to woo the state of maryland into the union or into the confederacy, and robert e. lee gave specific instructions to his field commander from harper's ferry up to wheeling, do not attack or harm the b & o railroad. we want it for ourselves. once it became apparent maryland would not leave the union, then things turned around, and the b & o railroad became a continuous target for the confederate operations throughout the war. with no railroad because of its geographic position, the only railroad that serves the nation's capital until well after the civil war, no railroad was more important to the war effort than the baltimore and ohio. as you pass through the exhibit,
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you will encounter a number of information panels. panels give technical information about the locomotives and the rail cars and introduce you to the personalities that were the operating people of the railroad. each of these people have been documented. they actually existed. we have eight of these life-like mannequins. seven of which have actual personalities and three have the actual faces of the characters that we are portraying from the civil war period. this is john sohmer. sohmer worked in the rail yard, he was a german immigrant. baltimore at the time of the war was the third largest city in the united states, second only to new york city in immigration. so, the workforce of the b & o railroad was heavily laden with german and irish immigrants. sohmer lived in the neighborhood and worked here. in fact, as a yardman, he had the most dangerous job on the railroad. at that time, there was a lincoln penn system. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the yardmen had to stand between the locomotive and rail
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car, pulling and dropping those pins. these were the people that lost the hands and feet and legs more often than anybody else. the characters portrayed in this exhibit are a collaboration of all the staff here at the museum. and by researching our archives, our employee files, we were able to document specific people who had specific jobs during the war years or interacted with the railroad. as the baltimore ohio railroad penetrated the allegheny mountains, they came in contact with the mines of western maryland and what would become the state of west virginia. this became the number one commodity moved by the b & o railroad in the pre-civil war years. to address that tonnage, the railroad invented these three iron hopper railroad cars. this car was built approximately 1858 to 1860. it is a civil war vintage car. there were literally hundreds and hundreds of these in operation and literally hundreds of these were damaged during the war. by the time of the civil war,
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there were nearly 2000 in service. these were the cars that hauled night and day coal back and forth to the factories in baltimore and the naval yard in washington, d.c. and was so vital during the civil war. originally, the cars were wood. they had a limited capacity, but the b & o, again, making their equipment here at the mount clare shops, fabricated these cars and virtually train every day moved east and west along the main line of the b & o railroad between baltimore, washington, and the mines in western maryland and west virginia. this is a view of martinsburg, west virginia when it was virginia in 1859 showing these very cars carrying the coal that was so vital to the b & o's profit margin and the industrialization of baltimore city. the south was greatly at a disadvantage in terms of number of railroads, rail miles of the
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. of the 30,000 miles of track in the united states at the beginning of the civil war, probably a third were in the confederacy. some states had barely a few hundred miles of track. of course, with the different gauges, it made intermodal or interstate transportation quite a challenge for the confederacy. we're standing here now on the other side of the john hancock. as you notice, this is a very small locomotive situated in the yard with our yardman. the railroad was probably one of the most efficient industries and one of the first industries to really address recycling. nothing was ever thrown away. everything was recycled. at one time, this locomotive would have been the largest locomotive in service. as the decades passed, it became too small for the loads to carry and it was relegated to yard work. after the locomotive became too small for yard work, the power system to be transfer to run a
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transferred to run a saw mill or water pump or everything would be cannibalized and scrapped and made into new material. another personality you're going to meet today is captain thomas sharp. captain thomas sharp was a railroad executive prior to the war. he worked for the quartermaster department in richmond, virginia. in the spring of 1861, stonewall jackson captured about 20 or 30 trains, a number of rail cars, locomotives, and other equipment at martinsburg. unfortunately for the confederacy, there was no railroad that ran south from martinsburg along the shenandoah valley until you got to strasbourg. sharp and a team of experts came out to martinsburg and came up with the idea of moving the locomotives by road. what they did, they jacked up the locomotives. they took off all the extra wheels, the bell, the whistle, the flu, the headlight, and then
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they hooked up teams of horses, 30 and 40-horse teams and pulled locomotives from martinsburg, west virginia, 38 miles along the valley turnpike to strasbourg, virginia where they were reassembled and put on the rails and used and taken to richmond for reconstruction and restoration, then used for the confederacy throughout the war. by the end of the fall of 1861, captain sharp and his crew had moved 14 locomotives and 83 rail cars by horsepower from martinsburg to strasburg, virginia. to give you an idea how important this was for the confederacy, the confederacy as , as we mentioned before, was very much under industrialized. and during the civil war, not a single locomotive was built in a southern railroad shop. so, the only way they could get new equipment was to capture it from union railroads. ironically, captain sharp then went on to run a number of other railroad operations after the war. at the end of the war, president
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garrett of the baltimore-ohio railroad sent a man throughout virginia and north carolina to search, find and recover all the various pieces of equipment that had been captured by the con fed confederacy during the war, literally hundreds of rail cars, miles of tracks, switches and equipment. at the end of the day, he was able to bring back 12 complete locomotives, part of a 13th one. the 14th one had been used as a power plant for a naval gunboat and sunk, so we didn't get our 14th locomotive back. a footnote to the story is captain sharp. after the war, captain sharp opened a machine shop in delaware. and, working with these people with the b & o, he helped recover this equipment for the railroad. it was then that the master of transportation, william prescott smith, died. president garrett invited thomas sharp to baltimore to his headquarters there at camden station and told captain sharp any man that could steal a million dollars worth of his
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equipment, move it down a dirt road and use it on somebody else's railroad was the man he wanted to run his railroad. after the war, the same man that had stolen all these trains and rail cars was given the job of master of transportation of the baltimore and ohio railroad. this timetable shows his signature. when the war began, john garrett was the dynamic president of the baltimore and ohio railroad, and he ran the railroad throughout the war, became a great friend of both lincoln and stanton , which was no small trick to be a friend of stanton's, and they worked well together. and lincoln relied on him in an emergency, and there were many, many stories to be hold about how the b & o railroad worked with the army during the civil union army during the civil war. john ward garrett is without question the most important personality of our story for the entire five years. garrett was president of the b & o railroad at the outbreak of the war and as some have said, the history of the b & o railroad can be written in three time periods, before garrett,
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during garrett, and after garrett, and i probably agree with that summation. garrett was a fantastic businessman. he understood how to get things done. he was very demanding. and working with his most able assistant, william prescott smith, master of transportation, they provided the first support for the union war effort in 1859 by sending marines and robert e. lee and jeb stuart to harper's ferry to counteract john brown's raid. they were instrumental in moving troops and supplies to and from washington and in western maryland and then, of course, maintaining the main line of the b & o throughout the war. one of the aspects that made the civil war the first modern war without question was the railroad and its application to moving of supplies and troops. the united states army did not have a component until the civil war when it created the united states military railroad. part of that united states military railroad was the
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construction corps., commanded by general herman houk. as the war progressed, houk was given regiments of white troops to work as construction crew. these troops were basically whatever was handy. they weren't interested in doing the work, and they were short anyway, so they never learned the job very well and weren't very interested. at this time, the ex-slaves began to pass through the union lines as the army went deeper into the confederacy. known as contraband, they were allowed to go to work for the union army. houk seized on this ability of the men used to hard labor, willing to work, thrilled to be away from the slaveowners' lash and readily adapted themselves to railroad construction. by the end of the war, houk employed approximately 10,000 ex-slaves as part of his railroad construction corps. as the contraband entered the lines, they originally worked
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for free, but then they were granted pay, they were granted rations, and then given used uniforms for clothing. so, they were given as much as possible. they were not part of the united states army. they were civilian employees, but they often wore discarded union uniforms. this exhibit portrays john boston, one of those men who had escaped slavery and went to work on the construction corps. of the united states military railroad. here, we portray the damaging of a railroad. the ties were ripped up and the rail was heated and bent. most people immediately look at this and say, "oh, sherman's bow ties." the first instance of rail being heated and distorted like this was near cumberland, maryland, in 1861 when the confederates captured the bridge over the potomac river, ripped up a mile of track, heated the track and wrapped it around trees. here at mount clare was a massive industrial complex,
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probably by the turn of the century some 400 or 500 acres. here actually, during the civil war, the b & o railroad build its own locomotives, its own rail cars, cast its own rail, and built every kind of apparatus and piece of steam equipment. they also prefabricated bridge parts. sections of equipment so that as the confederates would bring damage along the mainline, somewhere out between harper's ferry, martinsburg or grafton, they would simply send a repair train out and usually rebuild the damage faster than the confederates could inflict it. as a matter of fact, during the gettysburg campaign, one bridge was destroyed at sykesville, maryland, and the repair crew came and replaced it in 15 minutes. henry douglas, who wrote the famous book, "i rode with stonewall," lasted it was almost lamented in his memoirs that it was almost not worth the effort
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for the many occasions as he saw hours and hours of labor for nothing as the repair trains just came and put things back together again, usually within 24 hours. this section of our exhibit exemplifies how the b & o railroad considered to perform as civilian task. mail, freight and passenger service continued throughout the war as long as military demands or confederate damage didn't disrupt service. here, we meet alisha starrett, the niece of jedediah hotchkiss, the famous cartographer of stonewall jackson's. she was down in the shenandoah valley when the war began, and when her mother became ill, she met her father in martinsburg, virginia and traveled home to see her sick mother. fortunately for us, she wrote a letter describing that entire trip and how desolated the south was and pristine the northern territory was once she crossed the susquehanna river. we have her associated with this very typical civil war passenger car, which we'll visit in a second. the railroad continued to function whenever possible under
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its civilian time schedule and freight rates. in her account of the trip, she mentions moving up north up the valley, stopping in strasbourg, having to pass through the confederate lines and then having to pass through the union lines. finally meeting her father in martinsburg, waiting all night for a train, and then traveling through to baltimore and then north up into new york. she was continuously impressed by the fact that the south was ravaged by war and the north was untouched. she later married a confederate officer. this is a typical civil war vintage passenger car. its capacity was up to 50 people. the b & o had approximately 130 in service at the beginning of the civil war. for its time, its accommodations were quite comfortable. you had padded seats. you had light. you had heat during the winter. and even a water closet in the rear of the car. to give you some idea how rare
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the railroad equipment on exhibit here is today, there are approximately 30 pieces of known civil war locomotives and rail cars throughout the entire united states, and we have eight. so, what you see is the largest collection of civil war rolling stock in the united states. here, we have the highest ranking personality that we portray in our exhibit, general benjamin kelly. as with most of the people, all of the people, for that matter, in our exhibit, for 90% of the 200,000 people that visit us
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each year, there are totally unknown characters. however, as i mentioned before, these are the people that were civil war railroading. kelly was a prewar employee of the baltimore and ohio railroad, and when the war began, he became colonel of the first virginia union regiment, later the first west virginia regiment. it was kelly's troops who drove the confederates out of grafton. he planned the battle of phillippi and in that battle was seriously injured. and upon his recovery he was promoted to brigadier general and given command of what was known the railroad division. he spent the entire war guarding the b & o railroad and was rewarded with a general's commission. however, because he did not fight in any famous battles like gettysburg or vicksburg or bull run, he is not known to the average civil war historian but , but a great hero to those of us who know the b & o history. one of kelly's major problems was the composition of his defense force. during the civil war, soldiers learned on the go, therefore many times the first stop in any regiment before they went into field service was to temporarily guard railroad tracks. so, kelly was continuously being shifted in and out troops that were new, untested, untrained, and then as soon as they learned their job, they would be sent off to the battlefield.
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a number of his regiments were west virginia troops where the state of west virginia comes into play in 1863. so, when i refer to west virginia, i'm also talking about those virginia counties railroad between baltimore and cumberland and the points west into west virginia.
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in 1864, there were a large number of regiments sent from ohio. those were the 100 day men. they came in to fill the gap as the union army needed to be recruited. a number of 100 day ohio regiments guarded the b&o railroad. here, we have the pioneer, the pioneer built in 1851 was owned by the cumberland valley railroad. the cumberland valley railroad ran from just west of harrisburg, down to cumberland valley to hagerstown, maryland, through chambersburg. this is, as you can see, a very small locomotive. it pulled only two or three rail cars. the problem was the cumberland valley's rail system, the tracks and the ties, were very poorly constructed and it couldn't handle anything larger. so, rather than rebuild the tracks, they simply bought small locomotives. by the time the war began, they were upgrading their system, but this engine was still in service. in fact, in 1862 after the antietam campaign, jeb stewart made a cavalry raid into chambersburg, and during that raid, this locomotive was severely damaged. it now belongs to the smithsonian institution and is on loan here and one of the many locomotives we have restored in our restoration shop.
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as can be imagined, one of the primary missions of the b & o railroad was hauling freight. by the end of the civil war, the railroad had over 1,200 boxcars. when the war began, again the , the railroad always on the leading edge of technology, was experimenting with iron boxcars as opposed to wood. wood was lighter, but obviously the iron was more durable. these particular type cars were often used for hauling gun powder, different types of ammunition during the war. and were built right here in the mount clare complex. there were approximately 140 of these type rail cars in service during the civil war. i had the privilege of giving the curator of the west point museum a tour, and he was completely overwhelmed with the fact that this had survived the war. it is remarkable that something of this nature was not damaged, recycled, or simply rusted away in history, but we are very pleased to show this 1863 iron civil war boxcar.
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so, we come around now to the other side of this fairly rare boxcar. and you see the business end of it, the doors are open and it's an interaction between the adams express wagon and the railroad. adams express was virtually the united parcel service of the civil war, and one could ship anything by the railroad interacting, mail, ammunition, bread, even a dead soldier could be sent home to his widow. well, this is a real adams express company delivery wagon. adams express today is a financial institution, but during the civil war was the ups of the period. and interacted with other railroads, with u.s. mail. and it has been restored, and as you see here, a variety of cargo could be utilized for military supplies, ammunition, bread,
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kegs and ales, personal packages , and, as i said, when the soldiers were died or were died or were killed in battle, they could be shipped home for burial. this particular exhibit portrays the troops that were guarding the railroad. you asked about the makeup of general kelly's troops. this is private john t. reck, who was in the 2nd maryland potomac home brigade. he was stationed in a little town called mt. airie, maryland. ironically, in the spring of 1864, he wrote a letter to his sister telling her he was guarding the railroad and there were no rebels in sight and probably never would be, and this was just a month or two before the famous battle of monocacy. as you see in this scene, we try to make things as lifelike as possible. here, we have private reck at camp. in the backdrop, we installed what is my favorite civil war railroad photograph. it's actually city point, virginia, but the story is the same. you see the soldiers so closely camped out by the tracks, you
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can imagine what it must have been like as the locomotives whizzed through there day and night, belching steam and the clank of the cars interchanging and locking up. here, we're posed in front of a davis camel, built 1869 shortly after the war. it represents the style of locomotive that was built here on site before and during the civil war known as a lyman camel. the locomotive was called a camel because the cab for the locomotive engineer is on top of the boiler, not behind it. lyman's idea was the more weight you put over the drive wheels, the more traction. these big strong locomotives were specifically designed to haul freight trains over the allegheny mountains once you got past cumberland, maryland. normally, in this spot, we have the william mason. the william mason is the only fully operating steam locomotive from the civil war in the united states. it was the locomotive that took
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president lincoln to his inauguration in 1861. being a fully operating steam locomotive, it has to go in the repair shop. unfortunately, that's where it is, and we've replaced this slot with a davis camel. this is the last section of our roundhouse exhibit. as we pass through, you have seen different topics presented by the travelers, workers, the soldiers guarding or attacking the railroad. lastly, we look at the train crew. the train crew had a very special task, a very exciting job, a very dangerous job. trains were derailed. locomotive boilers blew up. confederates attacked them. and derailed them and fired cannons at them. so, it was quite a dangerous profession, but it was also a very exciting profession. what you have to appreciate about civil war railroading, and this is only under ideal conditions, a civil war
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locomotive could go 60 miles an hour. that was the fastest thing on earth. no ship, no person, no animal could travel nearly half the speed, half the distance or half the strength of a locomotive. so, if you were the crew of a locomotive, the conductor, the fireman, the engineer, you were the same as a shuttle crew. you were the same as an astronaut. you were looked up to. this was the highest skilled position on any railroad. we met a union soldier over there just recently. that union soldier made $13 a month. this locomotive engineer made $4 a day. it was a skilled position. it was a highly respected position. and it kind of summarizes the whole workforce of the b & o railroad and civil war railroading in general. as i mentioned at the opening of our tour, almost all of our mannequins have personalities. and many of them have the right faces. but we were able to gather the information on this particular
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locomotive engineer because his name is joseph henry toomey, my great great grandfather, and we used our family archives to substantiate his civil war story. well, unfortunately, while we have the documentation of his service with the b & o railroad, we weren't able to find an identified photograph. courtney wilson, the executive director here, decided that i would pose for the picture so i am the dummy in the locomotive. well, ironically, i spent my entire business career in logistics. and so, the idea of transportation was quite familiar with myself. i have always been interested in maryland civil war history. i've written a number of books , including the civil war in baltimore and maryland during the civil war, and just recently
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completed the book, "the war came by train: the b & o railroad during the civil war." many people have said, and i totally agree, that the civil war was the last romantic war and the first modern war. the two technologies above all others were the telegraph and the railroad that changed warfare forever. the telegraph and railroad combined to conquer time and distance on the battlefield. large troop movements were capable, resupply was capable and many, many campaigns were basically planned around the logistics of the railroad, where they were and where they weren't. it would have been almost impossible to sustain armies of hundreds of thousands of men without the rapid resupply by rail. the b & o railroad participated in a number of very important troop movements during the war. one of the largest of these occurred after the battle of gettysburg in 1863 when two army corps. totaling 20,000 men were transferred from the army of the potomac in virginia by rail through a number of states, a number of different railroads
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, and arrived in tennessee within a matter of 7-10 days. these troops were then added to grant's army and used to break the siege of chattanooga in the famous battles of lookout mountain and missionary ridge. at the end of january and the first week of february 1865, reverse troop movement was used. this time, the 20th corps. was transferred back from tennessee in the dead of winter through the mountains, again using the rail, all the way to washington , added to grant's army for the final push against richmond and the ultimate surrender of lee's army at the appomattox. >> you can view this and other american artifacts at our /history.www.c-span.org
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>> in the spring of 1790, the first congress meeting in their second session engaged in a debate about slavery and race while considering a number of anti-slavery petitions they had received. up next on american history tv, history professor paul talks about slavery and race and argues that this discussion, which focused on congress's ability to interfere with slavery and on the definition of a citizen set the tone for the race in america for the next seven decades. the historical society hosted this event and it is about an hour. >> today, we will start with paul polgar who is a longtime colleague of mine, he started

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