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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March 31, 2014

More on the Engine Washington

The famous Beanpole and Cornstalks Bridge with a 4-4-0 engine and car,
 not the USMRR Washington, which was an 0-8-0.
High resolution version available here.
Identifying the service record of the Baldwin 256, an 0-8-0 engine in USMRR service as Washington, was difficult as the data conflicted and was  incomplete, and there was at least one typo in a source. To complicate matters,  there were three engines with that name in USMRR service.

This research indicates that the first engine to traverse the famous beanpole and cornstalk engine bridge was the USMRR Washington.

Supporting Details:

I sent Rich Hochadel a note with a question about the the engine Washington's entry in the USMRR Roster that he authored. Rich said that there were three engines with the name Washington in service and the data is contradictory.

Here is a note from Rich on how he arrived at his conclusions.

I've spent the morning and half the afternoon going through the research I used for the USMRR roster, seeing how I sorted the info on the three different Washington's in the Department of Virginia. 
Here's how I listed them:  1st Washington: Unknown-B  
2nd Washington: Baldwin-256  
3rd Washington: Norris-1038  

 First of all, I now realize that should be:  1st Washington: Unknown-  
2nd Washington: Norris-1038  
3rd Washington: Baldwin-256 
A Russell photo of unknown-B in Alexandria in 1863.  Can anyone identify the builder?
 Going through the sources and notes provided by the R&LHS, I found that one person's roster had the Unknown-B as "captured at Fredericksburg Summer 1862," and another had Baldwin-256 as "Abandoned at Fredericksburg 1862." An undated "Statement of Locomotive Engines and Cars" provided by the R&LHS lists a Washington, costing $4500 (which would indicate Baldwin-258) lost "at Fredericksburg, under Gen'l Burnside," which would mean late 1862. 

 However, in his Memoirs Haupt quotes a telegram he sent to McDowell on May 14, 1863, concerning the new bridge over Potomac Creek, “I propose, as soon as I can get track timbers down and track closed, to pull over the engine Washington, by means of ropes. It if goes into the creek, it will cease to trouble us for awhile...” Since we know Haupt was disparaging Baldwin-256 in May of 1863, it must have been Unknown-B lost at Fredericksburg.  

The fact that there is no mention of the engine in official records after early May of 1862 also argues the same case, though it makes late 1862 seem less likely. The discrepancy in the "Statement" must be a clerical error, confusing Unknown-B, which was apparently never on the official roster, with Baldwin-256 when listing engines lost in action.  And I have no idea where I got the December 1962 date in my roster. As for documents at the National Archives. 
Some of the notes I got from the R&LHS are from sources identified as: 
  • Engine book from Oct 1862 to Feb 1863 (#10 on cover) (Memphis? 
  • Engine account book - Alexandria, Va., April thru July 1864
  • Engine account book - Alexandria, Va., Dec 1864 thru Oct 1865 
  • Engineers time book Engines on hand as of July 1, 1862 
  • Engines repaired at Orange & Alexandria Shops - June thru Nov. 1862 
  • Engines repaired at Orange & Alexandria Shops - Dec 1862 thru July 1863 
  • Engines repaired at Orange & Alexandria Shops - August 1863 thru Feb 1864 
  • Material account for Orange & Alexandria Shop - Feb to April 1862 (Tag #13)
  • Materials and labors expended on engines at Alexandria, Va. April thru Sept. 1863 
  • Material distributed at Alexandria, Va. May-Qug, 1862. (Tag #16) 
  • Operating Expenses - Alexandria, Va. - June 1862 to Feb 1864 
  • Statement of Locomotive Engines and Cars on Hand, present location also destroyed and where Statement of Locomotive Engines, Cost of same and from whom purchased 

 This is an excerpt from Haupt's Reminiscences (page 48) that mentions the engine Washington. Apparently it was not the best engine as Haupt didn't seem to mind if it fell in the river while testing the bridge.

The following telegram to General McDowell from Potomac Creek, May 14, 1863, reports some difficulties: There are so few men here able or willing to climb about on the high trestles, that I fear the work of bracing will be extremely tedious. Out of twelve men selected to spike poles on top of bents, only one made his appearance. I must therefore resort to new expedients. I propose, as soon as I can get track timbers down and track closed, to pull over the engine, Washington, by means of ropes. If it goes into the creek, it will cease to trouble us for awhile ; if it reaches the other side, it will have a good road and may keep the track. We can readily get cars over by planking between the tracks and pushing. The rain gives us much trouble, but I will spare no effort to get an engine to the Rappahannock by Saturday (17). Men are wet, dull and no life or activity in them. With all these difficulties, the bridge was finished in ample time, as the army did not move until May 26, and then it was a retrograde and not an advance movement.

The date on the telegram as quoted in Haupt's book has to be a typo as this incident happened in 1862, not 1863. If so, that helps corroborate that Baldwin 256 was the Washington in question. It must have  abandoned in Fredericksburg on August 31, 1862.

Here is a New York Times article with details of the evacuation of the Aquia line. Though full of interesting detail and somewhat biased reporting, it does not mention abandoning the engine. But since the Union had repair shops at Fredericksburg, it is possible it was left there.

September 3, 1862 

Destruction of the Bridges, & The March to Aquia Creek. Safety of the Whole Command and its Materiel. 

 FREDERICKSBURGH, Va., Sunday, Aug. 31, 1862. continued during the fore part of the day, admonishes us that the Fall rains will soon be upon us, and with them that there will be an end to all effective use of Virginia roads. Narrow, steep, crooked, sticky and stony, one day's hard, rain is sufficient to render them almost impassable for wagons and artillery. The necessity of locking wheels while going down steep places, scoops outdeep holes in the roads, which soon become reservoirs of water, and grow into gullies and holes, which test the skill of drivers and the strength of the best army-wagons to pass safely through. To-day the roads are simply execrable, and two days more of rain would more effectually out off our "retrograde movement," than the most effective rebel force in the rear. 
Union rebuilding the railroad bridge at Fredericksburg
on May 6th, 1862.  

 Under the orders of the War Department, Gen. BURNSIDE might have vacated this place a week ago; but reluctant to abandon a position which has been so long held, and which has been deemed of so great strategetical importance -- and which might still become so -- he has moved with great deliberation, and has finally consented to fall back in strict conformity to orders -- not on account of the threatening attitude of the enemy's forces.

Meantime all the regimental baggage, material of war and army stores have been carefully sent away, and are saved. It is the first apparent retrograde movement of Gen. BURNSIDE, but I do not believe he regards it as in any sense a retreat. The motives of it, if I knew them, I would not be at liberty to reveal. 

Suffice it to say Fredericksburgh has been abandoned; the three bridges, which were constructed for connecting the two banks of the river for our own use, have been destroyed; the railroad buildings on the Falmouth side, including the offices of Post-Commissary and Quartermaster, with a small amount of stores only, have been consumed by fire; the machine-shop and foundry in the town of Fredericksburgh, formerly used to so good advantage by the rebels, but more recently occupied as a repairing shop for our engines and railroad, has been blown up, and the large bakery establishment at Falmouth has also been burned. So far as this position is concerned it is now being converted into a "howling wilderness" for the occupation of the rebel army, now soon to return, no doubt, to the place. The citizens of the town were surprised while on their way to church in the afternoon, by dense volumes of smoke arising over our encampment. In fact, I was surprised myself, and received the fact as a gentle token that I had better pay my livery stable and board bill, and transfer my interests to the northern bank of the Rappahanuock. On looking about me, I found an unusual commotion once more among the people of African descent in the town, and a decided tendency of the tide of emigration toward the wire bridge, which runs from the foot of Williamstreet. Knots of Secessionists congregate at the corners of the street, but particularly opposite the bridges, to witness the exodus of the white as well as the black population. Several Union families, who have recently been watched and threatened, took the hint, and packed up. Ladies, dressed in their Sunday-go-to-meeting, looked out of their windows, or congregated on the hill-tops, to see the Yankees go out, and Stonewall Jackson come in. After so long and grievous a suspense, and hopes deferred, who could grudge them this hour of elysium. I met on the bridge pioneers with axes, arid barrels of tar which they were industriously plastering along the walk, to render the structure the more inflammable. There were also piles of chips and rubbish deposited in the wooden frame-work which crowned the different stone abutments and sustained the wire cables which held up the bridge. In a few minutes more the torch would be applied, and -- a handsome bonfire to light the pious rebels the way to church. 

 As yet, however, the Provost Guard occupied the town, and the Eighth Connecticut were on picket duty, ten miles on the way to Richmond, scattered along the bowling green, the plank and telegraph roads. 

On reaching headquarters, at the Lacey House, I sound all the [???] had been struck; the ambulance and army wagons were hitched up; officers' horses were all saddled for a start, and everything [???] a decided movement. Infantry regiments stood in line upon the wide plain fronting headquarters; long lines of wagons and artillery occupied the main road, and calvary men [???] in their saddles ready for the word "march." in the midst of this serve the commanding General wax observed walking leisurely to and fro, dispatching orders to the different regiments, and watching in calm silence the movements of the various commands. It was indeed an hour of deep interest and concern to him. For days and nights he has watched with sleepless vigilance every movement of our own and the enemy's forces, as they affected his own position, and something of weariness could be detected in his usual elastic step. At this juncture a poor woman with three lovely children clinging to her side came up the hill and passed through the gate, bringing each of them some [???] article of household furniture. The quick eye of the General immediately recognized her as un excellent Union lady, of Fredericksburgh, who was escaping with her children and little effects from the town. "Have you anything else down at the bridge, Madam?" asked the General. "Only a bed and a few smail articles, Sir," she timidly answered. "Send down an ambulance, wagon-master, and have them brought up and carried to the depot," was the General's orders, and it was done, in a few minutes the poor widow had the pleasure of seeing all her remaining goods safely deposited on the cars for Aquia Creek. 

Meantime, all other arrangements having been completed, a mounted orderly was sent to the point to order the Eighth Connecticut, on picket duty, to retire. Col. HARLAN accordingly ordered his men to fall in, and they immediately fell back on the town. When they reached the river, the railroad and wire bridges were already on fire, and they went down and crossed on the only remaining bridge -- that constructed of canalboats -- at the lower part of the town. The Provost Guard had already been ordered to vacate the town. Shortly after 5 o'clock P.M. the torch was applied to the railroad station, which was already well consumed before the bridges were fired. Shortly before this was done, the Sixth New-York Cavalry came in from the direction of Barnett's Ford, and reported that an ambulance and wagon train which overtook them on the road was hurrying [???] with great speed, and reported that the rebels in considerable force were behind them, having crossed just above, and were pressing on their rear. General BURNSIDE and Staff were the rest to leave the ground, after seeing, everything [???] off, and proceeding along the [???]. The railroad train was filled with people, white and black, with their household goods, receive to [???], employees of the Aquia Creek Railroad, that they [???] engaged, night and day, for a seek just, [???] goods and [???] to and no [???] no hour of the night [???].Their kindness and considerate treatment of the poor contraband exiles, with their cart-loads of duds, also entitle them to the gratitude of the good everywhere. I regret that I do not know their names, to mention them in this place. 

 The march from the river to Aquia Creek was very difficult, and occupied the whole night. The roads, flooded by the morning rains, and cut up by incessant travel of animals, vehicles and cannon, were almost impassable in some places. Gen. BURNSIDE kept along with the train, and seemed always in the place where there was the most difficulty. On several occasions he dismounted, and standing leg deep in mud, put his shoulder to the wheels, and called on the men to imitate his example, in order to extricate the ambulances and wagons from deep holes in which they had become stalled. One ambulance was upset near Station No. 9, and three or four persons who were in it narrowly escaped being killed. One or two other teams were disabled by the breaking of axles or [???], but nothing of a serious character occurred on the road. 

 By daylight nearly the whole of the immense train was safely through the hills, and encamped within sight of the landing. Without waiting for sleep, an hour of which he has scarcely experienced for forty-eight hours, Gen. BURNSIDE rode up to the hillsides overlooking the place, and selected positions where batteries were planted to enfilade the approach to the landing. 

 As an additional protection, four gunboats He atanchor within easy shot of the roads which must bepassed in approaching the position. Gen. BURNSIDE's Division is all right. Further this deponent saith not.

 _____ E. S.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Burnie, I believe the unknown locomotive-B in the Russell photo is the Hinkley & Drury "Lexington" built in 1844.