Rails to Oblivion: The Battle of Confederate Railroads in the Civil War
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS COMBAT STUDIES INST
Pagination or Media Count:
A feature commonly found in general history books on the American Civil War is a set of statistics comparing the resources of North and South at the time of secession. Although such statistics may vary from source to source, they invariably show that the North enjoyed major advantages in terms of population, industrial capacity, wealth, and railroads. A careless reader might infer from these statistics that the Confederate States of America was doomed and the outcome of the Civil War decided before the first shot was fired. Even the more prudent reader might assume that these resource disparities were causal factors in the Confederacys defeat. However, such assumptions overlook the fact that the war lasted four bloody years, and ultimately approximated the modern notion of total war. If the Confederacys resource disadvantages were truly as debilitating as the statistics suggest, the war should have ended much earlier than it did. Railroads are usually included in such comparisons of relative resources. Statistics show that the Confederacy possessed only one-third of the miles of track found in the United States at the time of secession, one-third of the freight cars, one-fifth of the locomotives, one-fifth of the railroad workers, one-eighth of rail production, one-tenth of the telegraph stations, and one-twenty-fourth of total American locomotive production. Did this disparity constitute a crippling disadvantage for the South On the contrary-Southern railroads were in fact sufficient for the Confederacy to win the war, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the Southern rail system was good enough to win a war. This distinction will become clearer as we proceed.
- Humanities and History
- Surface Transportation and Equipment