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Richmond railroad yard

Excerpt from "Railroads of the Confederacy"

The Civil War is the first war in which railroads were a major factor. The 1850s had seen enormous growth in the railroad industry so that by 1861, 22,000 miles of track had been laid in the Northern states and 9,500 miles in the South. The great rail centers in the South were Chattanooga, Atlanta, and most important, Richmond. Very little track had yet been laid west of the Mississippi.

Wars have always been fought to control supply centers and road junctions, but the Confederate government was slow to recognize the importance of the railroads in the conflict. By September 1863, the Southern railroads were in bad shape. They had begun to deteriorate very soon after the outset of the war, when many of the railroad employees headed north to join the Union war efforts. Few of the 100 railroads that existed in the South prior to 1861 were more than 100 miles in length. The South had always been less enthusiastic about the railroad industry than the North; its citizens preferred an agrarian living and left the mechanical jobs to men from the Northern states. The railroads existed, they believed, solely to get cotton to the ports.

Source: "Railroads of the Confederacy," The Civil War Trust

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Record Details

Title: Richmond railroad yard


Battlefields -- Richmond

Photographer thought to be Andrew J. Russell, similar works can be found in "Russell's Civil War Photographs: 116 Historic Prints by Andrew J. Russell. NewYork: Dover Publication, Inc. 1982

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