Steam Trains and the Last Confederate Victory

by Fred Ray on April 13, 2015 · 1 comment

Sorry to be missing in action but several projects have left little time for blogging. However I did want to pass on a few items of interest.

One is a lengthy look at the effect that steam trains had on warfare in the 19th Century. They were unknown to Napoleon and only began to be used in the Crimean War. By the time of the Civil War they had become a major factor in strategic mobility. While the article mentions the Union use of rail transport to move two Federal corps to relieve Chattanooga, it fails to mention why this was necessary — that the Confederates had previously moved a corps of the Army of Northern Virginia to the area that had played a decisive role in the battle of Chickamauga.

Here in our local paper Rob Neufeld takes a look at the last Confederate victory, certainly the last east of the Mississippi. It happened just outside of Asheville at Swannanoa Gap, when a group of hastily-assembled local troops turned back a group of Union raiders. He also has a section on the subsequent Yankee sacking of Asheville.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Christopher K. Coleman April 14, 2015 at 8:57 am

Interesting general article on the subject, although the used of armed/armored trains during the Civil War was a bit overemphasized. The Union forces began dabbling with them but unfortunately never took them seriously. Also, the strategic use of trains to move troops and supplies dates to the early phase of the war, not just at Chickamauga and Chattanooga: the Confederate forces at First Bull Run triumphed in part because the Rebels were able to be “firstest with the moistest” due to troop trains. Although not generally appreciated, Federal control of the transportation and rail hub of Nashville early in the war also had a lot to do with the Union’s ultimate victory; “interior lines of communication” and all that.

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