A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

February 26, 2009

Two new photos of Stonemans Station surface

Two new photos of Stoneman's Station have come to my attention. The first is from an article, "The Telegraph Goes to War" by Thomas Jepsen, in the Nov-Dec 1991 issue of Civil War magazine.  The caption reads.
"The small but busy Federal at Stoneman's Station, Virginia, was linked to other station and the army by a telegraph in the quartermaster's office. The key operator stands on the platform, ready to send or relay dispatches along the wire. Photo courtesy of Western Reserve Historical Society."
The remarkable thing about this photo is it shows a conductors car converted to a telegrapher's office. This is the first picture from the ACW that I am aware of that shows this kind of alternative use of a railroad car.

The second photo also shows Stoneman's Station. The terrain and tracks don't match exactly, but we will take the caption at face value. The photo came from Lee Rainey via the Civil War Railroad Yahoo Group.

More info on Horse Forage

I received a follow-up message from Dean West, pictured here as Captain West,
B Troop, 9th KY Cavalry. (He no longer wishes to remain anonymous.) I must say he looks dashing on his steed. The picture shows him on his Morgan.

According to Dean," the Morgan was a popular pulling horse during the Civil War. The horse Sheridan rode from Washington to the battle of Cedar Creek was a Morgan named Reinzi. Sheridan changed its name to Winchester at some point after he came east to command the AoP cav."

That horse would have come in handy when he, John Hill and I did a day of exploring the Cedar Creek Battlefield in preparation for a Johnny Reb game we once ran. Those were fun times. But I digresss.

This photo shows a scene from a typical Johnny Reb game that John Hill, Dean West and I hosted. John spent many years developing portable terrain pieces for his Johnny Reb games.

Dean provides some additional information about horse related forage statistics. Since this data shows that it is possible that a large animal might need more than 25 pounds of feed, perhaps the confusion comes from the use of the terms "grain and hay" used in the Encyclopedia citation. Hay is less nutritious than grain and thus more would be needed.

"I reviewed The Whole Horse Catalog, which says that a horse has the following grain ration daily in order to work at various levels. Also, there are some types of hay, such as Alfalfa, that is so rich in protein that grain rations need to be scaled down, and I know a couple guys who feed their draft animals all the Alfalfa they want, but just a a pound or two of grain per day. This issue can be unbelievably and unnecessarily complicated, unless the horse in question is a $1,000,000 Thoroughbred, and even those guys are fretted over too much.
Anyway, here's what Whole Horse Catalog says:

Light Work (1-3 hours per day: half pound of grain per hundred pounds + 1 1/2# hay per pound (1000 pound ridiing or show horse: 5# Grain 15# hay)

Medium Work (3+ to 5 hours per day: 1 pound of grain, one and a half pounds hay per 100 pounds (10 pounds grain per day)

Heavy Work (5+ to 8 hours per day: one and a quarter to one and a 1/2 pounds of grain per day (12.5 to 15 pounds per day)

Notice that a 3000 pound Clydesdale could need as much as 45 pounds of grain per day if working very hard.

Six-horse teams were the prescribed number for pulling full size army wagons. I have a funny General N.B. Forrest story of what happened in late 1864 when some official from Gen Hood's HQ handed him an order demanding he turn over two mules from each of his six-horse supply wagon teams in order to augment the tranportation of an infantry corps. The closing salvo from Forrest was for him to "git", and that Hood's officers should not come back to his camp unless they wished for beating or death. The mules remained with Forrests wagon train."

New ACW Model RR websites

Brian Kamerer sent me a note to inform me that Thom Radice has put up the beginnings of a website showing the construction and progress on his W&A layout. Thom lives in New Jersey. He is the fortunate recipient of help from such excellent ACW modelers as Brian Kamerer, D.C. Cebula, LeBron Matthews (from Georgia!), Rhett Tyler and Chris the Berserker.

Here some samples of Thom's excellent layout. It really shows the power of modeling the ACW in HO. The ability to model big scenes is really evident in Thom's layout. There are many more photos on Thom's website.

I also learned that Charlie Taylor started a website to document the construction of his O Scale ACW layout. Though he just started, he has already placed some interesting and useful information on it.

February 25, 2009

Another viewpoint on animal forage

I received the following from an old friend who is an ACW Calvary reenactor and a military historian. He found the comment 0f 25 pounds of forage per horse to be excessive. Here is the comment he sent me. I am keeping it anomymous for reasons that will be obvious once you read it.

Being in to horses, I must comment that when I read the history of logistics piece 
included on your web site, I was astonished to learn that the average grain allotment for U.S. army horses was 25 pounds per day! I must say, believe it was the lucky cavalry horse indeed that received that amount of grain on a regular (or irregular) basis, and if such a beast was not working hard for at least 16 hours straight pulling a heavy load or walking/trotting/cantering, surely that much grain would soon founder the animal, especially if it were not used to eating that much grain on a regular basis. In the wild, horses do not even eat grain. We feed it so they have the energy to work hard for us. Hard working draft horses weighing 3000 pounds might need that much, but a 1000 pound cav mount probably does not. I have a personal story in this regard:

A few years ago one of my horses, 1100 pounds and ridden almost every day at the time, got into a bag of grain (50 #) when I accidently left the tack room door open overnight. It ate about half the bag, then even it had had quite enough.

Next morning, an emergency vet visit was required to save the bloated and moaning beast, which could not be kept on its feet. Consternation spread throughout the land- all my fault! After a half-hour with a hose pushed way down its throat pumping castor oil and water into its system, the very displeased horse seemed not to be quite so distressed. Prior to this intense waterboarding procedure, the vet had to insert her arm way up the horse's ass to pull out impacted grain and hay. Horses can't regurgitate, so there is only one way to remove anything that gets stuck in their digestive systems. Under heavy criticism for my negligence, I had just finished fashioning a noose from a lead rope in order to end MY suffering, when the horse jumped up, dazed, pissed-off, but recovered.

February 22, 2009

First Backdrop Installed

The first backdrop is on hand. Ken, the owner of Affordable Signs, is helping us install the backdrop. The first panel was 12.5 feet by 31 inches. Because it was so long, we needed an extra set of hands to get it in place. Alicia provided them. Once we had it lined up, we unpeeled the backing from the far right hand side by the door. We secured it to the wall using the self adhesive. That is all the glue we needed.

Then we rolled the rest of the panel back and slowly unpeeled the rest of the backing, rubbing as we went so that the backdrop stuck to the wall.

Ken used a plastic squeegee to help smooth out the backdrop. Note there is a paper tape covering the printed image. That helps hold the vinyl in place, and prevents it from stretching as you rub it on.

Here I am helping peel the backing. We used an hobby knife to trim the backing in sections as we unpeeled it.

The corner was a little tricky, as the curvature at the base was not the same as the curvature at the top. We used a hobby knife to cut two slits in the backdrop to allow it to conform to the varying curves.

Once it was secure to the wall, we peeled back the tape covering, and voila, the backdrop was up. I noticed a few spots where there were tiny imperfections on the wall, such as small bumps and grains of dried paint. These show up on the backdrop, because the vinyl is so thin. In the future I will sand the walls before installing.

It's best to install the backdrop before the track and models are present. Here I have added the pink stryofoam hill behind the tracks at Falmouth. The backdrop looks great. The clouds are especially good, much better than I could have painted.

With some still wet ballast down, we get a look at the backdrop as the scene startes to come together. Once the ballast/ground cover dries, I'll attempt to match the colors of the soil to the backdrop. The real ground in Virginia has a lot of red clay, so the predominant dirt color should be reddish brown. For the ballast and soil here, I used dirt I collected in Colorado and it needs a color adjustment. But, it has a nice texture.

February 16, 2009

At the Printers!

The first section of the backdrop is now at the printers. This is for the section of the layout behind Falmouth. The view is to the east, as the railroad is running almost due north-south here. 

It will be printed on matte, self-adhesive vinyl. The material is similar to what is used on bumper stickers. The stock material is 51 inches wide. This first section is 12.5 feet by 31 inches. We will try printing it in one panel, though the printer, Ken, at Affordable Signs
says that installation might be trickier.  He has offered to help install it. We'll need a couple sets of hands to get it put up.

The ground section is about 7 inches tall.  Since the Falmouth scene is supposed to be in the bottom of a small ravine, the higher horizon should work well.   The detail that Brian has included in the painting is incredible. For example, the surgeon's tent has a placard with lettering visible.  I think it will be fun to look at the backdrop to see what other details he has included.

I decided to print the backdrop to the full height of the wall. At first Brian and I discussed cutting out the sky and only using the ground portion. But once all the tree detail was added, I felt it was worth the extra cost to print the whole panel.  While I was at it I added some subdued cloud detail.  I did this for two reasons. One, it will make the backdrop more interesting. On a shelf layout, the realism of the backdrop goes a long way to contributing to the realism of the overall scene.  Secondly, most computer printers have difficult printing a large expanse of continuous tone.  Adding the clouds hopefully will help break up the continuous tone of the sky and help hide any imperfections from the printing process.

Overall, I'd say I did about 15  hours of photoshop work on the backdrop to get it ready for print. The large file size really taxed my iMac. With 4 layers the file was 2.8GB when open in Photoshop. This large size means that Photoshop must use a virtual RAM disk. That is a slow process compared to solid state RAM. So saving and making changes took several minutes.

The backdrop should be done in a few days. In the meantime, there are many other chores to do on the layout to keep me busy.



Now that the Falmouth scene is operational, it's time to start some scenery. I have ballasted some track so far, but before I got too far along I want to get the backdrops installed.

I knew that backdrops will be a important aspect of the presentation. About half of the layout is built on a shelf two feet or less in depth. Furthermore, the larger size of O Scale trains compared to what I am used to working with in N Scale, makes a good backdrop even more important.

Although I like to paint, I wasn't sure my skills were sufficient to make a convincing backdrop.

Enter Brian Kammerer. He is a professional artist who is also dedicated civil war model railroader. He is the creator of the film, "The Other Great Locomotive Chase" It's an historical fiction story of a locomotive chase that takes place near City Point, Virginia. He used a combination of model scenes and trains with 2 dimensional cutout figures to tell the exciting story. The amazing work took Brian 10 years to accomplish. The film has won numerous awards and I recommend it wholeheartedly. It's a hoot to watch.

Brian graciously offered to let me use the artwork he created for the film in my backdrops. He had painted several long scrolls depicting the City Point waterfront, camp scenes and woods. He scanned the images at high resolution and sent me the files. I opened the files in Photoshop and began to modify them for use in my layout.

The scenes in Brian's movie take place in summer. I needed to change them to winter. Brian did  some of the early modifications -  painting in some dead trees and fall colors. But I decided to use photos of actual winter scenery to augment the backdrops. So I used parts of photos I took to place winter trees in the background. This required a lot of detailed editing of the backdrops to remove the unwanted trees, sky etc. I used the Photoshop watercolor filter to take make the photo trees blend better with Brian's hand painted scenes. I also added a few inches to the bottom of the backdrop, again using ground texture from photos I took at Ft Ward, VA.

I printed out a few full size 13" by 19" mock ups on my Epson 1400 printer to get a feel for size etc.

Next I will bring the files to a print shop for the final print. The first image is 45,000 pixels wide and will print to 12.5 feet. The large files require a fairly high power computer. I am using a 3GHz iMac with 2 GB RAM. I wish I had another 2 GB RAM, as that would speed up the Photoshop operations.

Here is a mock up of the water front area made from several 13x19 inch sheets.  The actual printout will be a single piece of self adhesive vinyl. 

With this busy scene showing so many kinds of cool ships, I decided I won't need as many modeled ships to convey the "forest of masts" effect. So I decided to add a second wharf, Burnside's Wharf, along the back wall.  I realize that getting access to couple/uncouple cars on this per may be difficult, so there will be no spots there, just a track on the wharf with ships along side.  A 2"x 4" piece of lumber is serving as the pier mock up in the photo.

February 15, 2009

Double Slip Switch Update- Dead Frogs Working!

In an earlier post I described the double slip stub switch I built for my layout. Now, I have finished wiring on the part of the layout where this switch is located. I have been testing with locos and the few cars I have. All the frogs are powered except the two on this double slip switch. I am pleasantly surprised to learn that the dead frogs don't seem to be stalling the locos. They have been making it through very well.

I did order a set of auto-reverse units from Tony's Train Exchange, but maybe I won't need them.

February 12, 2009

Some background on military logistics in the civil war

The on-line Encyclopedia Britannica has a good discussion of military logistics in the civil war era. The following is an excerpt from their web page:

Historically, food and forage made up most of the bulk and weight of supply until the 20th century, when, with mechanization and air power, fuel displaced forage and became the principal component of supply. However, the demand for food remains unremitting and undeferrable, the one constant of logistics. A man’s daily ration makes a small package—seven pounds and often much less. But an army of 50,000 may consume in one month as much as 4,500 tons (4.1 million kilograms) of food.

Animals require much more. The standard grain and hay ration in the 19th century was about 25 pounds (11.4 kilograms), and the daily forage of a corps of 10,000 cavalry weighed as much (allowing for remounts) as the food for 60,000 men. Forage requirements tended, moreover, to be self-generating, since the animals needed to transport it also had to be fed. The number of animals accompanying an army varied widely. Napoleon’s ideal, which he himself never attained, was a supply train of only 500 wagons in an army of 40,000; with a corps of 7,000 cavalry, this would amount to about 10,000 animals exclusive of remounts and spare draft animals. Northern armies in the American Civil War commonly numbered half as many animals as soldiers. A force of 50,000 men might thus require more than 300 tons (272,000 kilograms) of forage daily. This was more than twice the weight of gasoline that an equivalent force of three World War II infantry divisions, using motor vehicles exclusively, needed to operate for the same length of time. In the latter case, moreover, fuel requirements diminished markedly when an army was not moving, whereas the premechanized force had to feed its animals whether moving or not. It was the immense forage requirements of premechanized armies, more than any other single factor, that restricted warfare before the 20th century so generally to seasons and climates when animals and men could subsist mainly on the countryside.

Note the wagons waiting to be loaded with the stacks of forage (bales of hay). This scene is on the forage wharf at this City Point, where they built a special wharf just for forage.

I find the weight comparison between a WWII division and a 19th century division surprising, especially when one considers how heavy the vehicles in a WWII division were compared to a civil war unit. 

Combined with the information from the previous post, one can see that forage, i.e. food for the horses, mules and oxen used by the army, is the major component of military transport. Period photos show schooners loaded to the bottoms of their main sail spars with stacks of forage. The supply base at City Point, VA had a large wharf devoted to just forage. I have not found evidence of a dedicated forage wharf at Aquia. Nonetheless, forage will be the major commodity shipped.

February 10, 2009

Daily Delivery of Cars in Early 1863 at Aquia

I found some very interesting data in "Railroad Generalship: Foundations of Civil War Strategy" by Dr. Christopher R. Gabel. He tabulates daily tonnage deliveries on the Aquia-Falmouth Line in early 1863, the time period I am modeling. I converted the data into number of cars per day assuming each car carries 10 tons. Forage for horses, mules and oxen was clearly the largest tonnage component. Interestingly, ammunition was the smallest.

This is excellent data to use in structuring operating schemes for the model railroad. Haupt reports that the average train length was 16 cars. Since my layout uses 12 car trains, I need to scale the scope of my operations by 12/16 or three quarters. Even scaling back, this is probably too much operation for one operating session.

I also learned that the Army instituted a railroad speed limit on the Aquia-Falmouth Line of no more than walking speed. I assume that was 5 miles per hour. They also placed a speed limit on horseback riding. The message that enacted these limits did not address why, but I think it was to reduce accidents while in camp. The implication is that it should take 11 minutes to go the half scale mile of my main line. With stops and switching, a typical run should take about 30 -40 minutes. This seems just about right for a fun model railroad job.

McCallum's Report Summarizes History

In February 1862, Edwin M. Stanton, the Secretary of War, appointed  Daniel Craig McCallum Military Director and Superintendent of the Union railroads. McCallum's successful organization and management of the railroads earned him a promotion to Major-General. He was Haupt's supervisior, generally handling administrative duties while Haupt took care of operational matters in the field. At the end of the war, McCallum wrote a complete summary of the operations of the USMRR. The portions pertaining to the Aquia-Line are detailed below. It confirms the information compiled so far.

Washington, D. C., May 26, 1866.
Bvt. Major General M. C. MEIGS,
Quartermaster-General U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report upon the military railroads of the United States under my charge during the war:
 April, 1862, the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad was opened from Aquia Creek to Fredericksburg, fifteen miles, and operated to supply the forces stationed at Fredericksburg. The road was abandoned September 7, with the loss of one engine, fifty-seven cars, and a small quantity of material.

On the 18th of November repairs were again commenced, and the road was opened on the 28th to Falmouth, opposite Fredericksburg, and was used to supply the Army of the Potomac until June, 1863. A very large amount of work was required not only to the railroad, but to the wharves at Aquia Creek, all of which had been burned when this line was abandoned by our forces.

The limited accommodations for receiving and delivering freight and passengers at Aquia rendered an increase of wharf room and tracks necessary, and a new wharf, afterward named, "Yuba Dam," was completed in February, one mile below Aquia Creek wharf, and the necessary tracks laid from the main road to it. Vessels drawing ten feet and a half of water could land at the new wharf at low tide, while there was only eight and a half feet at high water at the old one. This improvement proved to be a valuable acquisition to the means of supplying the army. The road continued to be used without interruption until June, 1863, when it was abandoned with small loss of material but the bridges, buildings, and wharves were soon afterward burned by the enemy.

…snip… On the 9th of May, 1864, repairs were again commenced on the railroad at Aquia Creek, and it was opened to Falmouth, fourteen miles, May 17. Potomac Creek bridge, seven miles from Aquia, 414 feet long and 82 feet high, was built ready for trains to pass in forty working hours. The road was operated until may 22 principally for removing the wounded of the battles at Spotsylvania Court-House. On that day it was abandoned and not afterward used as a military line.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Brevet Brigadier-General, Director and General Manager
U. S. Military Railroads.

February 6, 2009

Aquia Line had 3 engines and 60 cars...

On 22 May 1864, the day repairs on the Aquia Railway were complete, Brigadier J.J, Abercrombie telegraphed General Grant asking for orders with regard to the Aquia line apparently after being ordered to abandon it. He also reported that he had 3 engines and 60 cars on the railroad.  That's not much more than I expect to have. I think in 1863 that there may have been more. 
Brig. Gen J.J. Abercrombie 

MAY 22, 1864-8.30 p. m.Lieutenant-General GRANT:This p. m. the telegraphic communication was interrupted between here and your headquarters. Men have been sent mend the wires. I have your order to abandon this place and go to Port Royal. Am I to draw in all guards of Aquia railroad, telegraph, and road to Fredericksburg? What disposition am I to make of six batteries of Reserve Artillery from Army of the Potomac encamped here? I will send everything off as fast as possible, and will leave here as soon as the rebel prisoners are shipped. Is it intended by your order the garrison of Belle Plain should march by way of Fredericksburg, or direct from here to Port Royal? There are there (sic) engines and sixty cars now on the Aquia and Fredericksburg Railroad. One hundred and fifty bales of straw are here that can be used in the sixty cars for wounded.

Surgeon's Report Details Aquia Line Operation in 1864

It is interesting that one of the best summaries of the logistics supporting Grant's 1864 Virginia Campaign was written by the US Army surgeons. This report discusses how the casualties from the campaign were transported.
Grant did not want to rely on a long stretch of vulnerable rail line for supply. As the Army advanced, they set up a series of supply points on the Potomac and it's tributaries. Thus they used the Potomac for the bulk of the transport and only used railroads, were available, for a last few miles to the front. Otherwise they relied on a wagon train, allegedly over 4000 strong.

This limited the role of the Aquia Line, and once rebuilt, it only remained in service for about 8 or 9 days before it was once again abandoned, this time for the last time.

The first section of this report deals with the events leading up to the opening of the Aquia line.

Numbers 5. Report of Surg. Edward B. Dalton, U. S. Army, Chief medical Officer of Depot Field Hospital.


City Point, Va., December [31], 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report upon the origin and development of the depot field hospital of the Army of the Potomac, from May to October of the present year:

....snip May 8, I received an order to conduct the train to Fredericksburg, Va., and there place the wounded in temporary hospital accommodations until they could be removed to Washington. A suitable escort was provided and the train proceeded as ordered, entering Fredericksburg about 1 o'clock on the morning of the

9th. The churches, public buildings, warehouses, mills, and the more commodious of the private dwellings were at once taken possession of for hospital purposes, and a large number of wounded officers and men were billeted upon such a families as still remained in town. Over 7,000 wounded, the whole number brought on the train, were thus placed under shelter. The number of medical officers and attendants was, of necessity, disproportionaly small. Some 30 medical officers were present. These worked most faithfully and steadily, day and night. The immediate necessities of the wounded were attended to with very little delay, and the less pressing demands met with all possible dispatch. The absolute impossibility of preparing accurate records under these circumstances makes it impossible now to furnish more than a report of the general conduct of affairs. Every effort was made to systematize as rapidly as possible. The organization adopted was by corps, corresponding to the organization of the army. Certain buildings with the adjacent district of the town were assigned to each corps hospital, and the men belonging to the same collected, so far as practicable, within the limits of this district. From the medical officers present of each corps one was selected as surgeon in charge, and the remainder were assigned to duty as assistants. This same organization, with some modifications in the details, has continued up to the present time.

The day after the occupation of the city, and for several days subsequently, trains of ambulances containing supplies were sent with flag of truce under charge of a medical officer to the Wilderness for thepurpose of completing the removal of the wounded. All, save a few taken by the enemy, were thus brought into town. Owing to the fact that this occupation of Fredericksburg as a hospital was entirely unexpected, a day or two intervened between the arrival of the wounded and the establishment of communication with Washington, during which time the supply of medical and hospital stores, surgical appliances, &c., was quite limited. Ships ladened with everything necessary reached Belle Plain on the 10th of May, and wagon trains at once brought an abundance to the city. At the same time a number of surgeons from civil life arrived and reported for duty in accordance with orders from the Surgeon-General's Office. many of these rendered most valuable assistance. Immediately upon the establishment of communication with Washington measures were taken to transport to that city all such men as were disabled for more than thirty days. All the available transportation was used for the more severe cases, while many wounded only in the upper extremity were sent in squads on foot to Belle Plain under charge of a medical officer and there placed on board transports.

Ambulances of the Sanitary Commission at Belle Plain, 1864

Mean time the battles of Spotsylvania sent in daily accessions to the number in the city. In some instances the ambulance and wagon trains containing these were unloaded at once, while in others they were halted for a sufficient length of time to allow of provision for the immediate wants of those on board, and were then sent on at once to Belle Plain. On the 20th, 300 hospital tents arrived. These were distributed to the different corps hospitals, and were at once pitched outside the town. So many of the wounded as could thus be accommodated were transferred from the buildings without delay.

On the 22nd, the repairs of the Falmouth and Aquia Creek Railway were completed, and this additional means constantly made use of for the removal of the wounded to Aquia Landing, to which point the depots previously at Belle Plain had been transferred.

Simultaneously with the opening of the railroad, light-draught steamers reached the city by the Rappahannock River. These were hastily furnished with supplies, straw, &c., and used for the transportation of wounded to Tappahannock and other points lower down the river, where hospital transports were ready to receive and convey them to Washington. The army had now moved so far that Fredericksburg was no longer eligible as a hospital depot, and every effort was made to evacuate the town as promptly as possible. By the morning of Saturday, the 28th of May, the wounded were all removed, and all public property placed on board steamers and barges in tow. These dropped down the river under convoy of a gun-boat, while the ambulances and army wagons moved overland under escort of the troops which had been garrisoning the city during its occupation. By night both reached Port Royal, which had already been occupied as a depot, but was about to be abandoned in consequence of the onward march of the army toward the Peninsula.....snip

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

ED. B. DALTON, Surgeon, U. S. Volunteers, Chief Med. Officer.

Bvt. Lieutenant Colonel T. A. MCPARLIN, Medical Director, Army of the Potomac.

Aquia Line during Grant's Wilderness Campaign

In searching the Official Records I found several citations that mention the repair and use of Aquia Landing and its railroad during Grant's Wilderness and Spotsylvannia Battles. You can find an on-line copy of the Official Records at http://ehistory.osu.edu/osu/sources/records/

For example these messages mention the Aquia Line during Grant's campaign. The first discusses moving wounded to Aquia for further evacuation to Alexandria and Washington. McCallum's message gives an estimate of when the railroad would be ready for service.
Piney Branch Church, May 8, 1864-9.40 a.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE,
Commanding Ninth Army Corps:

Lieutenant-General Grant desires that like General Meade you send your wounded to Fredericksburg, where your medical officers will act in conjunction with the medical director of the Army of the Potomac in establishing temporary hospitals and moving these wounded thence to Washington via Aquia Creek. If you are not able to move all your wounded at once, you will, keeping your own ambulances with you, send your empty quartermaster wagons under flag of truce to the battle-field with supplies and get the rest of the wounded and move them to Fredericksburg.

Lieutenant-Colonel and Aide-de-Camp.

-FREDERICKSBURG, VA., May 17, 1864. (Received 2.20 p.m.)
Colonel D. C. McCALLUM:

Lieutenant-General Grant desires that the Potomac and Richmond Railroad as far as Hamilton's Crossing shall be put in order with the least possible delay. Send all necessary material and labor at once to Aquia Creek. A second bridge at Fredericksburg is essential to quick communication. Please see General Rucker, procure the necessary transportation and have twenty pontoons (for which General Rucker promised yesterday to send to Washington) towed to Aquia with the least delay, together with the other bridge material.


ALEXANDRIA, VA., May 17, 1864.(Received 2.40 p.m.)
Secretary of War:

The railroad will be done to Falmouth by Tuesday night next. Your obedient servant,

Colonel and Aide-de-Camp.

Belle Plain., Va., May 23, 1864.
Colonel E. SCHIFER,

The cars are ready now to take the sick and wounded, such as could be transported, to Aquia Creek, by way of the Aquia Creek and Fredericksburg Railroad, but if the barges are at Fredericksburg, and apable of taking all the sick or wounded, they can go down by water in preference, otherwise let them go down to Aquia, where boats are in waiting to transport them to Washington. As soon as I can get the Government property and prisoners from here I will take up the line of march. If you have any empty wagons send them down here for supplies. Advise me immediately of the fact by telegraph or messenger, so that the commissary can remain to load them, otherwise the supplies will go to Port Royal by boat.

Respectfully, &c.,

Alexandria, Va., July 1, 1864

Colonel D. C. McCALLUM, U. S. Army,
Director and General Manager, Railroads of the United States, Washington, D. C.:

SIR: I have the honor to submit a report in narrative form of my operations in the U. S. Military Railroad service from June 30, 1863, to June 30, 1864:

....Sections related to other lines in Virginia have been deleted see http://ehistory.osu.edu/osu/sources/recordView.cfm?Content=125/0954 for the complete message.....

Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Line. - About the middle of May I received orders to put this road in running order from the Potomac River to Hamilton's Cross-Roads. The docks at the terminus of Aquia Creek that had been burned by the rebels were repaired. All the bridges having been destroyed, were rebuilt as far as Famouth, and the road put in order to the north bank of the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg. Eight thousand wounded troops were transported over this portion of the road to Aquia Creek, when the rolling-stock was removed and the road abandoned.

Richmond and York River Line. - As our army in Virginia moved south, and the base of supplies moved to White House, I sent (by request of the chief quartermaster of the Army of the Potomac) my construction corps to that point, with a large amount of material, and constructed docks for landing army stores. I received orders from Lieutenant-General Grant to put the Richmond and York River Railroad in running order from White House to the Chickahominy River. Immediately on the completion of this work Lieutenant-General Grant ordered the track of this road, from the Chickahominy River to the Pamunkey River, taken up and the rails taken to Alexandria. These orders were executed and the Construction Corps started for City Point, on the James River, where it now is......

Your obedient servant,
Chief Engineer and General Supt. Military Railroads of Virginia.

February 5, 2009

Burnside Wharf - Youbedam Point

 The Historical Marker Database has some information that verifies my belief that there was a second pier at Aquia Landing.   The inscription reads:
Aquia Landing’s location on the Potomac River, coupled with its access to the R.F.&P. Railroad, made it an important supply base for the Union army. Food, clothing and other equipment were shipped down the Potomac River, unloaded here, and sent to the front by train. Recognizing its potential importance to the Union Army, Confederate troops destroyed Aquia Landing in April 1862 and tore up the railroad tracks running between here and Fredericksburg. The Union Army immediately rebuilt these facilities but then foolishly destroyed them upon evacuating the area in September.

Gen. Ambrose Burnside rebuilt Aquia Landing again in November 1862 to supply his army during the Fredericksburg Campaign, adding an additional wharf at Youbedam Point, farther out on the Potomac River. The Confederates destroyed these structures in June 1863 after the Federals abandoned Aquia Landing and marched north to Gettysburg.

In May 1864 Gen. U.S. Grant used Belle Plains, six miles southeast, as his main supply base while rebuilding Aquia Landing. As Grant pushed toward Richmond, he abandoned Aquia in favor of supply depots farther south. The Confederates once again destroyed it after the Federals left. This time it was not rebuilt.

Now the question is how to incorporate Burnside Wharf into the layout design?

February 3, 2009

Track Plan - First Draft

Here is a first draft of the track plan for the overall layout.

The plan includes a wye at the left end of Aquia Landing. Unfortunately, there is no way to fit a wye without having to extend the tracks through the wall into the workshop. So instead, I'll probably install a turntable there instead.

The pier is close to the front edge of the benchwork to allow access for operations. The deep scene behind will be filled with ship models. This gets them out of the way, and perhaps opens up the opportunity to do some forced perspective modeling using 1/64th instead of 1/48th scale ships.

The car floats will have to be scratch built, as will the side wheel steamer. I should be able to find kits for the tugs and sailing vessels.

To achieve the required height for the Potomac Creek Trestle, the tracks will climb at 2 percent grade as they depart Aquia Landing. Unfortunately, this will not gain enough elevation so the bridge will not be high enough. But through application of a reality distortion field, the water level of Potomac Creek will to be dropped about 5 inches below the level of the Potomac River. I hope that this doesn't create an incongruous scene as the trestle is just on the other side of aisle from the harbor.

This plan shows a stick trestle, but I have still not decided what type of bridge to use there.

February 1, 2009

Stoneman's Station

There are several photos that show Stoneman's Station on the USMRR Aquia Line. What is not clear to me, was Stoneman's Station (or Stoneman's Switch" as shown on the map on my earlier post) a station on the original RF&P or just a military station?

The Union Cavalry commander at this time was General George Stoneman. He lead the Union cavalry of the Army of the Potomac until spring 1863 when Hooker relieved him of command. But he soon returned to field service in the western theaters. He was once captured, becoming the highest ranking Union officer prisoner of the war. Once paroled, he lead several famous raids deep in Confederate territory as the war wound down.

It was a common practice for USMRR to name stations after the commander's of the units the station served. I have searched my RF&P references and did not see a mention of Stoneman's Station. The earliest time table I have on the RF&P was 1871, and it only shows Brooke Station, but no Stoneman's Station. The current VRE has a station stop at Brooke and Leland Road, which is very close to where Stoneman's Station was. But I conclude that Stoneman's Station was named after General Stoneman.

There are several photos in the Library of Congress showing views of Stoneman's Station. Four are shown here.

In comparing the scenes of the railroad station area, it is not clear to me that the third photo is the same location as the first two images. The track and buildings don't match up. The dirt pile in front of the loading platform is not visibile in the third photo. The caption for the third photo has the word "Stoneman's" scratched out and the word, "Brandy" replacing it. But is cataloged in the LoC as "Stoneman's."

This shot shows a typical winter camp scene. Note how the tents have log walls at the floor level.

There is also a picture of a large bakery named after Stoneman, but I suspect it is not on the Aquia line, as a fairly large city can be seen in the background.

During the winter, several Union units were stationed near Stoneman's Station. This Paul Strain painting shows the 20th Maine marching to battle from Stoneman's Station.

Features of the Aquia Line

I have decided to model the Aquia-Fredericksburg line during the 1863 campaign, probably during winter when the Army of the Potomac was in winter quarters. During this period the USMRR was in regular operations under TT&TO from Aquia to Falmouth (just north of Fredericksburg). The car ferry from Alexandria was in service. The Adams Express company was also operating on the line for LCL packages to soldiers and sutlers.

The whole line is just about 8 miles long, there were two stations, Stoneman and Falmouth, plus Aquia harbor. (Actually, there may have been a station at Brooke too, since that was a stop of the RF&P and VRE today, but I haven't found any reference to it in the ACW literature so far). Photos of the harbor and Stonemans are available. I haven't found any of Falmouth yet.

I was very excited to find this map that confirms my suspicions on the location of the Burnside's Wharf, note that this map shows a second railroad spur south of the original wharf.

This detail from the map shows the location of Burnside Wharf downstream of the main wharf. I annotated it in red.

The Potomac Creek bridge was rebuilt in this time period from a pole trestle to a set of three arched trusses placed on the existing piers. Since there are plenty of other trestles on the layout, I thought this would provide an interesting change. The corn stalk-bean pole was a famous bridge but was destroyed the first time the Union withdrew.


vice this:
New information has come to light that this is the fourth trestle to be built at Potomac Creek during the war. The line was repaired during the Wilderness campaign and used to withdraw wounded and supply the army.

The harbor was much larger during this period (compared to under McDowell in 1862), but not so large that I wouldn't be able to do it justice, even in O scale. The piers will probably be about 6 ft long in O scale. And I plan to build several ships to dock along side. I always liked the sail-to-steam transition, so having lots of ships around is a plus for me. The forest of masts effect is what I am going for, although I may need to paint some on the back drop to achieve it.

The caption for this shot at the LoC says this is Aquia Harbor, but I think it is mislabeled, as the piers at Aquia did not have hills alongside.. I think this is City Point. But it shows the "forest of masts" effect I am going for.

This photo shows tracks along the edge of the pier with planking in-between the rails and around the turnout frog.

Double Slip Stub Switch

I encountered some interesting surprises this weekend while laying track for my O Scale ACW layout. I noticed in a Library of Congress photo of yard tracks in Atlanta that one switch stand controlled two turnouts that met points-to-points. See this LoC Photo:
The movable points in this arrangement have four rails, not the normal two. Since I had this turnout arrangement on my layout, I decided to copy it without really thinking about how it worked all the way through, I assumed the prototype guys must know what they were doing. This led to a series of unexpected events.

First, I learned that the switch stand to control the points must have three positions, as there are three routes through the turnout. I solved this by laser cutting and scratch building a three-position switch stand with the correct lateral throws. This worked so well that I decided to retro fit all the existing switch stands on the layout with homemade ones instead of the brass PSC Harp Stands I had been using so far. The PSC switch stands have a vertical motion lock as well as a rotating motion. The vertical movement made it hard to get a throw bar that was easy to adjust, as the clearance for the lifting motion introduced slop into the mechanism. My home made stands, based on a drawing in Alexander's book, lock in the same direction as the axis of rotation of the lever. So the throw bar does not lift. It only moves a tiny amount perpendicular to the throw direction. I may release these as Alkem Scale Models product. Please let me know if you are interested.

Shows the overall arrangement of the turnouts

Showing the center position of the 3 way switch stand

The third position. Note the hanging rail end. You have to be careful when lining up your route.

Then I realized that the electrical polarity of the frogs depends on which way you approach the turnout regardless of the position of the points. A problem the prototype doesn't have. This was not immediately obvious to me, but became apparent once I put the switch in operation and began to fully understand how it works. So far the only solution I can come up with that doesn't involve flipping toggles, is a set of auto-reverse units on the frogs to control the polarity. That way the operator only has to worry about aligning the switch and not have "model RR thoughts" about the flipping toggles for the desired polarity.

In general I am finding these stub switches very easy to hand lay. The frogs are the only pieces of rail that you have to file to a point. The rest are just measure, cut, fit, and check gauge. I even did a curved turnout this weekend and it works well.

Excuse the unfinished box car. I currently have only 2 pieces of operable rolling stock. First things first.

Herman Haupt - Lincoln's Railroad Man

By 1862 American hope for quick victory was dashed by the surprise defeat of the Union army at the First Battle of Bull Run and the carnage at Shiloh, the first large-scale bloody battle. Both sides realized they would need large armies to support their leaders' strategies. These armies required vast quantities of supply to sustain them in the field. For the first time the relatively young railroads would be called upon to satisfy the appetite of the nations' war machines.

Leaders on both sides were quick to apply the railroads towards their war aims. Last minute Southern reinforcements moved by rail turned the tide at First Bull Run. Yet, managing a large railroad network with its diverse and competing companies proved more than a task for both governments. Union Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, in surveying the tangled web of railroad logistics that existed in early 1862, decided that a railroad professional would be required to bring the Union advantage in railroad assets and technology to bear.

His search for a man to clean up the morass that fouled the Union supply system lead him to the dark recesses of the Hoosac tunnel in Western Massachusetts. There he found Herman Haupt engaged in both a technically and politically challenging task of digging the longest railroad tunnel to date.

The 42 year old Haupt was a West Point graduate with distinguished experience in both teaching engineering and building portions of the Pennsylvania Railroad in his home state. Haupt answered Stanton's call to duty in spite of the fact that he had risked a large portion of his own personal fortune in constructing the unfinished tunnel.

Haupt arrived in Alexandria, Virginia to take command of the United States Military Railroad just as General McCellan's Peninsula campaign was winding down. Haupt established his headquarters in Alexandria. At one point Alexandria rivaled Baltimore as the largest and busiest port on the Chesapeake. In 1862 it was still a significant port while its proximity to Washington and its rail yards made it militarily important. The Union occupied the city early in the war. Two railroads served Alexandria. The Orange and Alexandria Railroad (later the Southern) went west. The Loudoun and Hampshire radiated northwest towards Leesburg with a branch that connected with Washington, DC over the Long Bridge. The Richmond, Fredricksburg and Potomac Railroad had not yet established a rail connection to Alexandria.

Haupt recruited an assortment of frontier woodsmen, skilled craftsman and freed slaves to create a railroad construction corps that achieved amazing engineering and railroad building feats.

One of his first notable achievements was the reconstruction of the bridge over Potomac Creek. The original bridge took three years to build. Haupt and his men rebuilt the 300 foot long and 100 foot tall trestle in less than a week. Abraham Lincoln, amazed upon seeing the bridge, commented, "that man Haupt has built a bridge using beanpoles and cornstalks". In his Alexandria headquarters Haupt also developed prefabricated components to rapidly repair destroyed bridges as well as field methods to efficiently repair or destroy track.

Haupt's genius applied both to organizational as well as engineering skills. Upon taking command, the strong willed Haupt swiftly reorganized the railroad. He instilled timetable and train order discipline to operate the railroad. On numerous occasions he clashed with superior Union generals over his perceived view of their interference with railroad operations.

While Haupt's skillful management helped keep Union troops well supplied, battlefield results in 1862 were largely disappointing. In spite of gaining a great Union victory at Antietam, Abraham Lincoln replaced General McClellan in November 1862. In his place Lincoln selected General Ambrose Burnside, a man who self admittedly was incapable of command. Nevertheless, General Burnside initiated a plan to move down the Rappahannock River to capture Fredricksburg as a prelude to an advance on Richmond, the Confederate capital.

To support the plan, Haupt immediately began preparations to change the Union Army's main supply line from the Orange and Alexandria Railroad to one using a combination of water and rail transport. He dispatched construction crews to Aquia Landing to restore the wharf there and to repair the connection to the Richmond, Fredricksburg and Potomac rail lines. He also supervised the construction of rail-to-barge transfer bridges at the both terminals of the proposed water route. To transport the cars on the Potomac River, he designed, requisitioned materials and built unique railroad float barges.

The floats consisted of two large-sized Schuylkill barges, across which long timbers were placed supporting eight tracks. On these tracks loaded cars were run at Alexandria, towed sixty miles by steam tug to Aquia Landing. There railroad crews unloaded the barges by pulling the cars. They then forwarded the cars without the break of bulk along the rebuilt line of the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad to Falmouth, across from Fredericksburg on the north bank of the Rappahannock.

According to Haupt this was, "the first known attempt to transport cars by water with their cargoes unbroken. The Schuylkill barges performed admirably and thus was formed a new era in military railroad transportation. The length of the barges were sufficient for 8 tracks carrying eight cars, and two such floats would carry the sixteen cars which constituted a train."

All of this reconstruction occurred over a period of two weeks. Haupt was ready to support further military operations by November seventeenth. On November twenty second he telegraphed General Burnside suggesting that Burnside move to Fredricksburg before General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate forces opposing him, could occupy and fortify the bluffs behind the city. However, General Burnside ignored the advice and waited three more weeks at Falmouth before advancing across the Rappahannock. By then General Lee had concentrated his widely dispersed army from its winter quarters and was firmly entrenched on the heights behind Fredricksburg. On December 13th Burnside launched a futile attack on the strong Confederate position. The Union army suffered its bloodiest and most one-sided defeat of the war.

The fact that Haupt would suggest strategic maneuvers to General Burnside was evidence of his own self-confidence and strong opinions. As the war progressed he continually suggested ideas and offered criticism to Lincoln and Secretary Stanton on all matters, some well beyond the realm of military logistics such as ways to reform the Navy and methods to build ironclad warships. Eventually this criticism, that transcended his military jurisdiction, angered Stanton and he forced Haupt to leave government service.

The changes and innovations Haupt wrought in the USMRR lasted well after his departure. General McCallum and others continued to capably manage the USMRR. In the end the superior resources of the Union, transported in large part by the USMRR, brought peace to the nation. Haupt returned to Massachusetts but did not participate in the finishing of his tunnel. Over the course of his life he achieved several notable accomplishments:

* Director, Chief and General Superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad
* Contractor and Chief Engineer for the Hoosac Tunnel
* Chief of the Bureau of United States Military Railroads in the Civil War
* Chief Engineer of the Tidewater Pipeline
* General Manager of the Richmond & Danville and Northern Pacific Railroads
* President American Air Power Company

But perhaps his proudest achievement was building an oil pipeline in Pennsylvania despite intense pressure from the Standard Oil Company during the days of the robber barons and their monopolies. His memoirs, REMINISCENCES of GENERAL HERMAN HAUPT" can be found on-line at Google Books and is definitely a "MUST" read for Civil War railroad historians. He also authored several books on bridge design and analysis, also available free on Google Books.