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.
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February 4, 2012

Special Order establishing Passenger Service

The Provost Marshall log book has all sorts of items posted to it. Most are rather routine and relate to personnel actions or descriptions of details assigned to various units ("detail" is the Army term for an assignment of soldiers for a special task, usually guard duty, but also construction of such things as fortifications, or manual labor such as collecting firewood).

But some of the messages have direct bearing on the railroad and its operation.

This circular dated March 17th describes a standing order for passenger and mail service on the railroad.  I previously posted a letter from General Hooker to Brig. Gen Patrick, Provost Marshall General directing  how, "when the interests of the public service will admit, that a car may be attached to each train, running on the road to and from Aquia Landing, for the accommodation of Officers..."  This later message seems to implement General Hooker's request.

                                                    Aquia Creek VA March 17th 1863 
     On or after this date three cars for passengers will be run daily from Aquia Creek to Falmouth on trains No. 5 -12 o’clock M-. and the same number in train No 7. 3 o’clock P.M.- One car in each train will be reserved for officers.     
     When practicable these cars will be placed on the ? near the Passenger Station, at least one hour before the starting time for trains.        
    One car will also be assigned for the transportation of the Mail and Newspapers. None but regularly authorized Mail and News Agents will be allowed in this car.     
     No person will be allowed to ride on cars loaded with freight.     
     Officers in charge of trains will be held responsile for the strict observervance of these regulations.                                                    
  By command of  W. F. Rogers
 Col. 21st N.Y. Vol.                                                      
Commdg. Post                                                      
(signed) H.H.Halsey                                                     
1st Lt. A.A.O.C. & A.A.A.G. 

Two days later Headquarters issued a clarifying Special Order no. 34 stating,

        "The attention of officers in charge of trains is called to the requirements of circular of the 17th inst (sic) from the Headquarters and the are directed to prevent the intrusion of citizens in the cars reserved for officers.  
        One car being reserved expressly of the accommodation of officers, citizens will only be allowed in the car when officers desire it and will not be inconvenienced thereby. No other persons will be permitted to ride in the car so reserved."

These messages imply that I need to build or modify some cars as passenger cars. The car roster I have shows that only one passenger car was sent to the Aquia Line in April 1863. So it is probable that freight cars such as box or flat cars were used for this task. If so, they may have been modified with windows and chairs for this service. However, it is possible that additional passengers cars were brought in to fulfill this order.

Note the prohibition of passengers riding on freight cars. This was probably an attempt to keep control of desertion and absence without leave, as soldiers needed a pass to ride the trains. Keeping them off freight cars and on designated passengers cars would make enforcement easier.

To simulate on my layout the enforcement of this circular I will position guard figures at the stations. Their mission will be to keep troops off of the freight cars and unauthorized people out of the officer's car.

Note that the message also states that cars should be placed at the passenger station one hour in advance. This is interesting "chrome" to add to the operation of the railroad.

It also is the first indication I have seen that explicitly mentions passenger stations on the USMRR Aquia line. I will need to build or designate structures as passenger stations on the railroad. In Falmouth, I'll use the depot structure I already built. In Aquia, I will build a separate structure, possibly like the one shown here labeled as the Provost Marshall office. The way the people are standing around the cars in this photo makes me think that the Provost Marshall Office may have been the location where people got the passes to ride on the railroad.

In any case, these kinds of detail make the layout come alive and gets me psyched to start operations.



  1. Nice. I just got an idea for a 1/32 scale building. Thank you.

  2. Scott,
    Can you describe your 1/32nd scale project more? Is it part of a railroad or some other diorama?

    1. Bernie, sorry I haven't looked in sooner. I just like having 1/32 scale buildings to pose my 1/32 (54mm)figures around. These board and baton wood structures have character.

  3. Very interesting, Bernie. Another article perhaps, at some future time?