Today in AFJ History

January 9, 2014  

1863: Rebuilding railroads

Bridge on Orange & Alexandria Railroad, as repaired by Union Army engineers under Col. Herman Haupt. (Attributed to Andrew J. Russell/Library of Congress via Wikipedia)

Editor’s note: The Orange and Alexandria Railroad, which linked Alexandria, Va., to points west and south, was the most bitterly contested route in the first railroad war. The Battle of Bull Run was fought to control the O&A’s junction with a rail line west to the Shenandoahs, and the railroad was later a frequent targets of Confederate efforts to capture or destroy its tracks. The O&A was placed under federal control in 1862; the brilliant Union engineer Hermann Haupt used the line to hone his troops’ breathtaking abilities to rebuild bridges almost as fast as Rebel raiders could put them to the torch.

From AFJ’s archives: November 7, 1863

Items and Incidents

The Orange and Alexandria Railroad is in running order to Warrenton Junction. During last week, eleven miles up the road were repaired. Since the rebuilding began, 653 lineal feet of bridges, from 20 to 65 feet in height, have been built, and 27,700 crossties made and laid. So thorough was the construction of the road by the rebels that not half a dozen crossties were found that could be used.