tv The Civil War Cumberland Valley Railroad CSPAN September 29, 2019 10:00am-10:46am EDT
weekend on c-span 3. war, then the civil co-author of targeted tracks talks about the importance of the cumberland valley railroad during the civil war. this was a one track railroad running from hagerstown, maryland, to harrisburg, pennsylvania. it was used to move union troops, and supplies and was often under attack i confederate forces. the gettysburg heritage center in pennsylvania hosted this talk. >> a little bit about our speaker. we have scott mingus. i have known scott for a number of years but i did not know him until i reviewed his bio. he is a scientist and consultant in the pulp and paper industry. he holds patents in self adhesive postage stamps and barcode labels. i never knew that.
he is an ohio native, graduate of miami university. while working for avery dennison, he was part of the team that set up the first commercially successful self-adhesive postage stamp. he has written 20 books. his biography won multiple awards, including the a prize for confederate history. he has written several articles for the gettysburg magazine and other historical publications. scott and his wife debby reside in north pennsylvania. scott? welcome. scott: thanks for coming today.
i want to talk about the railroads in pennsylvania. i have written three books on the railroads. they were from east to west, the philadelphia-wilmington baltimore railroad. the northern central railway, harrisburg to baltimore. the third key railroad that ran between maryland and pennsylvania during the civil war. the cumberland valley railroad will be the subject of our talk today. all three railroads were targeted by the army during the civil war. two had their bridges burned near baltimore from 1861, 1864. 1863, there were attacks on the northern central bridges. 31 destroyed in york county, pennsylvania. no rep. dent: pennsylvania saw as many incursions or attacks as
the cumberland valley railroad, hence the title of our book, targeted track. the cumberland valley railroad ran during the civil war years from harrisburg, pennsylvania to chambersburg. there it met the franklin railroad, a subsidiary, later owned by the cumberland valley railroad. the cvrr will be consisting of the entire line of the franklin railroad that ran from hagerstown north to the susquehanna river. the cvrr's president's agenda named frederick watts. he is important in the history of pennsylvania state university. he was one of the leading proponents of agricultural education in the united states,
and it is recognized that the father pennsylvania state university. before that, he was the father of the cumberland valley railroad. one of the early proponents to get the railroad built. he served on the board of directors, and later as the president of the railroad during the civil war. frederick watts had a vision to turn the cumberland valley from a small, regional railroad to something of national importance. little did he know that his entré was the confederate army and the publicity has railroad would get. probably the first time the cvrr plays any role in the conflict between north and south is during john brown's raid on harpers ferry in 1862. most of the raiders arrive on the cumberland valley railroad, having traveled to harrisburg.
they set up their headquarters in downtown chambersburg. ironically in a boardinghouse owned by a widow of one of the abolitionist governors of pennsylvania. that was governor joseph wittner. the boardinghouse would see numerous people coming and going throughout the summer of 1859, including john brown. frederick douglass would come on the railroad as well. he would meet with john brown. some accounts suggest john brown tried to sweettalk frederick douglass into joining the attack on harpers ferry. doesn't do it, of course. throughout the summer in particular, brown and others are bringing in large shipments of goods on the cumberland valley railroad. he calls himself dr. isaac smith.
he is looking for possible ion ore mines. he's bringing in pix, axes, when in reality they are muskets and pikes. they were used to go down to maryland and set up headquarters at the farm, and then in october 1859, john brown and his men will raid. some of the raiders come back to the cumberland valley and tried to catch the river to get out of the valley. some of them will be captured nearly cumberland valley railroad station, were some of the raiders are captured. one will manage to escape on the railroad and end up in north pennsylvania, where members of the underground railroad will smuggle a free black to toronto in canada at that point.
this railroad, the cvrr comp has a starcrossed background. it gained a lot of national publicity for the role. some of the members are investigated as collaborators. charges are never brought, but it leads to speculation. judge watts tends to be a middle-of-the-road person. as the clouds of four start with start withds of war the election of abraham lincoln, the secession of states, then war breaks out in april 1861, following the confederate bombardment of fort sumter. judge watts goes to a political rally in carlisle and is in favor of the compromises that are trying to hold the union together, perhaps allowing the
south to keep slavery. he is the most vocal person against it in once immediate -- and he wants immediate abolition and immediate war against the south. the cumberland valley sees they will become a critical part of the war effort. this is a quick snapshot, a small, regional railroad. they don't have a lot of hardware and equipment, 12 locomotives, four baggage cars, 79 freight cars. this is a one track railroad through the heart of the cumberland valley. for those in the audience, the cumberland valley is the name applied to the shenandoah valley in southern pennsylvania. the cumberland valley is very important, and this railroad moves a lot of freight,
particularly iron ore, timber, coal back into harrisburg for distribution around the country. this railroad has some interesting pieces of rolling stock, one of which is the pioneer, one of the most powerful locomotives built in 1851. by the time of the civil war, it is outdated. it is a lightweight locomotive designed for passenger service. the railroad does not have a lot of heavy freight locomotives. typically they can handle no more than a four-car passenger train, and some maximum speeds. they add two more by the time the war begins. they believe it will be a short
war. a lot of these people are thinking we will win the war in 90 days, so throughout the valley, they will show up in places like carlisle, chambersburg, and then they will congregate at the cvrr station and brought by train to harrisburg. the chambers artillery -- they don't have cannons, but they have enthusiasm. they will head on these bright yellow distinctive railroad cars. the cvrr took its most powerful locomotive into harrisburg. the artillerymen forma company
-- they form a company of the second pennsylvania. this is the harrisburg station, one of the few in the north that handled many different railroads. the northern central came in here from baltimore through york, as did the pennsylvania railroad that ran east-west to pittsburgh to philadelphia, and the cumberland valley railroad. at times, the station was hectic. there are lots of accounts of people getting on the wrong train because you have four distinctly different railroads serving it. the cumberland valley would remind people to get on the yellow cars.
that will remind you to get on the right train. a lot of the early traffic through the cumberland valley is distinctly related to the civil war. the cvrr will go down in history as one of the very first railroads ever used by the military of the united states to move troops into position. in 1861, stonewall jackson has taken harpers ferry. he will be superseded by joseph johnson, who takes command of the confederate forces at harpers ferry. the yankees don't like this because there is a lot of concern that harpers ferry, it is easy to launch an invasion into the north, particularly pennsylvania. that is something pennsylvanians are worried about early in the war from because they are bordered by slave state maryland and slave state virginia, which
at the start of the war, neither are aligned with the confederacy, but there is significant concern in harrisburg that perhaps the commonwealth and its railroads will end up being targeted by confederates. they decided to go on the offense and started recruiting pennsylvania soldiers and moving them into chambersburg as a launching point for a potential thrust in towards harpers ferry. they will go after the confederates before the confederates can come after him. the cumberland valley railroad will bring significant quantities, thousands, fresh, untrained union volunteers into chambersburg. chambersburg becomes the assembly point for what later is going to be called the army of the shenandoah, robert patterson, an elderly gentleman who was a veteran of the war of 1812 is assigned command of
these volunteers. he comes down in a brightly bedecked railroad car into chambersburg with the band playing, has a parade on sunday night, which wasn't something you didn't chambersburg, -- you did in chambersburg, pennsylvania. it was a very conservative town. this guy shows up with marching bands and military escorts on a decked out train and assumes command of the troops in chambersburg and tells people that we are going on to virginia. patterson within a few days after the arrival manages to get the troops, organized and begins to move the troops out. the problem with that is there is one person in his way. for those familiar with the manassasor first
campaign will know that patterson's number one role in all these volunteers, mostly pennsylvanians, but other states as well, their goal is to keep joseph johnson bottled up inside the cumberland valley, or shenandoah valley in this case. it is a task patterson fails miserably. johnson is able to get his troops to ride the rails into manassas junction, and we all know the story. johnson's men will arrive in time to correct the balance of the first battle of manassas and lead to a confederate victory. everybody realizes the war will not be over so quickly. you have all kinds of problems, and now they started raising troops for three years, one year, different terms of service, and the cumberland valley railroad brings the first group of boys home and start shipping the larger groups out of the cumberland valley back into harrisburg to be recruited.
fast-forward forward to 1862 from all those rumors, the confederates are going to come to harrisburg from a finally start coming true. rumors abound that the confederate army is marching on pennsylvania, late august, early september, 1862. the governor of pennsylvania, republican, a close friend of the president of the united states abraham lincoln, he says we need troops. he calls out the pennsylvania state militia. pennsylvania has a standing militia before the war, but in general the prerogative is a call out to activate the national guard and raise these men into regiments to respond to emergencies. they weren't allowed to leave the commonwealth borders. it was only for the defense of pennsylvania that you could
activate this militia. they are going to get thousands of these new state militiamen and the cumberland valley railroad will be pressed into service to bring them to chambersburg. by the why, general patterson last general the patterson left in an unmarked car without a military escort and was out of town in the middle of a nondescript business day. the new officer in 1862 was john fulton reynolds. reynolds takes command, very military-like, arrives on a train with troops into chambersburg, no pomp and circumstance, very businesslike. reynolds takes charge of the pennsylvania state militia. the militia men will serve throughout the antietam campaign. they are not ever going to see combat, for which reynolds is somewhat grateful, not quite sure how the men will do, confides to his sister in a letter, his doubts about the quality of the pennsylvania
state militia. nevertheless, the militia ends up moving back through the cvrr. by the way, the cumberland valley ran through downtown chambersburg, downtown greencastle, through mechanicsburg, downtown shippensburg. the major hotels and businesses lined the railroad tracks. it is the main streets and most of these towns, and these boys and their soldier uniforms are thrilled because the townspeople, particular the pretty girls of the cumberland valley, turn out lavishly to cheer these men. at one point, they go by the irving female academy, to which one soldier says, i think we need to stop the train right here and make this our camp the rest of the war.
well, they will obviously not stop at the female academy. you can see what these young men in blue are -- it is all really good at that point in time. well, just a few weeks later, another problem occurs. by the way this is his letter to his sister basically saying there is nothing in the valley that will stop the rebels. if the rebels want to come to harrisburg come in fact, we have a problem. now, just a few weeks, a few days after reynolds makes the declaration, on the day after the battle of antietam, perhaps the cvrr's finest moment in the civil war. general mcclellan is out of ammunition and orders more from washington. they're going to load it up on the b&o, take it to baltimore, and transfer it to northern
central. the northern central will leave baltimore in the train of ammunition will arrive in hagerstown in four hours and 31 minutes. i can't do that today on the highways with all the traffic. this train loaded with incredibly explosive ammunition careens at speeds up to 54 miles per hour on tracks never designed for cars going more than 40 miles per hour, and the standard working speed for a freight train in those days was 20 to 25 miles per hour. you are doubling that. these cars get so hot they worry about it catching on fire. they have to stop twice and physically cool the train off so it won't catch on fire. anybody can guess what a boxcar of ammunition would have done in downtown carlisle, pennsylvania? it wouldn't have been pretty.
it is a stunning example of mcclellan's generalship in those days. he needs ammunition. even though these railroaders have risked their lives and set a speed record the cvrr has ever will run during the civil war, not a single one of these rounds is fired at the confederates during the maryland campaign, at least up to that point in time. but it becomes known as the amazing antietam ammunition run. it is the finest hour. it gets a lot of national press. they are really happy. the militia starts coming home. reynolds starts bringing them back, and the darkest hour for the railroad soon follows. on december 26, heavy fog along the susquehanna river, a train barreling through the fog filled with the 20th volunteer militia
from philadelphia smashes into the bridge locomotive called utility and 30 soldiers are killed or permanently maimed. now the cumberland valley is in the press again, but not for a reason they want. it is one of the worst losses of u.s. soldiers at that point in the civil war on civilian run railroads. that will change. unfortunately, there will be worst tragedies yet to come. just watch though, just terrified about the possible legal ramifications for what is going on come and more importantly, the loss of potential lucrative military business. they managed to avoid any kind of legal reality and the cvrr keeps their contract. the cvrr has another problem looming, that is jeb stuart.
just four weeks later after the disaster where the utility is slammed into the train, jeb stuart comes to pennsylvania. what else would he be doing? you can see on the maps on the screen the location of mcclellan's army still sitting idle in maryland doing very little. stuart decides i'm going to break apart the cvrr, the main supply line that will feed mcclellan's army. of the two, the more vulnerable is the cvrr, so he takes three brigades of calvary and comes across the mason-dixon line into chambersburg. he ends up wrecking the cvrr at chambersburg. they will destroy the turntable and destroy most of the offices and whatever rolling stock is still there, the warehouse is in and around the train station.
chambersburg sees flames on the north side of town for hours and hours and hours as the area immediately around the railroad station burns to the ground. he is going to go on, to turn the bridge that can't be burned. he believes that story and here's the state militia is coming after him, then here's the union regulars are coming after him, so he will head towards gettysburg, comes within six miles of gettysburg in october of 1862 before he turned south and heads back into virginia. that raid by stuart alarms the railroads in pennsylvania. they realize exactly how vulnerable they are. they have already lost bridges, now rolling stock, and the confederates have proven a well-planned raid can reach the very heart of some of these northern railroads. some of the photographs taken of the confederates, they raid the
warehouse is first but then burn chambersburg, so rolling stock, this is what the town would've looked like an 1862, as stuart's men arrived. governor curtin is alarmed by this, frantically starts dispatching with washington about how candy cumberland -- how can the cumberland valley be better protected. 1863, the reverend has another problem. they rebuilt the depot, the warehouse in the turntable, rebuilt just about everything just in time for the gettysburg campaign. and the confederates come back to pennsylvania again. now instead of jeb stuart, it is jenkins from the western virginia area. he will lead his calvary into chambersburg and they will start raiding the railroads and find
out the scotland bridges not made of iron. it is made of wood. we can burn it, and they do. they destroyed the largest bridge southwest of the susquehanna river along the cvrr. along the way, greencastle the scotland, jenkins and his men are destroying railroad tracks, burning railroad buildings. they are working on the small bridges, the small little facilities that lined the tracks as well. they devastate the franklin railroad and the cvrr all the way up into the heart of the cumberland valley. one more time, they organize a state militia under governor curtin's direction. the state militia will start
riding the rails to get into position. in the meantime, the cvrr has an influx in ticket sales because refugees for hagerstown from a the shenandoah valley, refugees from southern pennsylvania are jumping on the trains and trying to put the susquehanna river between him and robert e lee. ticket sales are quite strong and hundreds and hundreds of refugees, many african-american are coming into chambersburg to try to escape the onslaught of the oncoming rebels. well, the state militia, the pennsylvania state militia is not very well organized. governor curtin has asked for 10,000 volunteers from new jersey and new york, so a number of new york standing militia regiments have arrived in harrisburg.
the new york state national guard, put them on the cvrr trains, and they had south to -- they head south to shippensburg. with chambersburg cut off, shippensburg is the new central organization point for the pennsylvania state militia. you can't get to chambersburg because it is south of the bridge of scotland. they have to walk from shippensburg to scotland, guard bridge crews that are definitely trying to put cvrr's bridge back into place so that the army can use this if they need to. boring down the tracks heading towards his position. jenkins withdraws into west virginia. actually maryland, sorry. jenkins moves back into pennsylvania on june 22. the new yorkers now fearing infantry is coming with
artillery abandon ship and head back to harrisburg, now leaving the cumberland valley unprotected. other than a few scattered calvary units, units of the first new york calvary, for example. there are some local units floating around there. but most of the calvary in these units are not very experienced with the exception of the first new yorkers. they thought the rebels are coming into the cumberland valley. jenkins follows the railroad. they go to mechanicsburg. he will set up shop. again, the map shows you the railroad tracks on the main streets of mechanicsburg, and this is the largest hotel, one of the most important hotels in town during the civil war years. that is the railroad hotel, appropriate named, and was also
a ticket office. it had the unheard-of rooms for women and an indoor powder room for men. it had indoor plumbing, at least for a while. they had a very nice hotel there. jenkins takes over the hotel, makes it his personal headquarters, and starts collecting new york and pennsylvania and other local newspapers that have been brought into the gift shop, if you will come of the railroad. jenkins puts his feet on the table and starts collecting yankee intelligence, including we believe statues from harrisburg. while this is going on, behind them comes the rest of the army of northern virginia, including george pickett bringing up the rear. pickett's men, many of them destined to die or be captured in gettysburg, any of his men will spend the last weeks or days of their free lives or
lives entirely wrecking the cumberland valley railroad. they will duplicate what stuart was doing in 1862. long before sherman's neckties, these guys are taking rails and heating them over bonfires and letting the rails group so they are not valuable anymore. in some cases, they are wrapping bowties around trees. pickett's men are doing it in 1863 in the cumberland valley. they will shrug in chambersburg -- show up in chambersburg and burn everything. the railroad had already rebuilt all of its facilities here and better than they were before, and now george pickett has arrived with infantry. these guys do a very thorough job on the cumberland valley
railroad, particularly on july 1. 156 years ago today, while battles are raging at gettysburg, george pickett is destroying the cumberland valley railroad in chambersburg, pennsylvania law -- pennsylvania. on this very day, the reason for this talk in utility as far as the anniversary celebrations in gettysburg. pickett has a jolly old time. i outline a lot of this in the book, what his boys are doing as this is going on. in the harrisburg area, especially the west side of the river, the new york state militia is still guarding what is left of the cumberland valley railroad. the yankees pretty much control the railroad from camp hill north. not much. the rebels control the rest of the railroad from mechanicsburg all the way through carlisle, shippensburg, chambersburg,
greencastle. 90% of the railroad in confederate hands. this is one of the few drawings done during the campaign that showed the railroad tracks of pennsylvania. you can see the 22nd new york state national guard camping. also in the sketch is the susquehanna river. those would be the bridge abutments. on the left is the river running into downtown harrisburg. the state militia is going to take over many of the railroad buildings, including house near bridgeport, and they will convert it into block houses and try to protect the railroad as best they can. the new york state militia barely in the background. my co-author did this, you can barely see the train.
the cumberland valley railroad still operational, at least in taking troops and refugees who can still make it into union held territory, they are still running trains for a little while. all of that is finished up in the battle of gettysburg is over. hermann hot appears on the scene. there are 31 railroad ridges that have been destroyed and -- in york county alone. from gettysburg to hanover and hanover junction, many of those have been destroyed as well as the railroad bridges on the spur from york to wrightsville, and the longest railroad bridge in wrightsville has been burned by the pennsylvania state militia -- actually civilians under orders from the militia. the job is to rebuild the
railroads. we need to get ammunition income of the wounded out, relief supplies in and they become crucial. he would spend most of his personal time in york county, he would come to the cumberland valley on one or two occasions and they would rebuild the railroads. but there is a critical decision, the rebels were supposed to come in 1861 and they didn't. jeb stuart destroyed much of the chambersburg railroad facilities. then, jenkins destroyed it. he makes an interesting decision not to rebuild the railroad facilities. they rebuild the tracks, but they don't rebuild the
turntables, warehouses, ticket offices, oiling stations until after the war. it's a big decision, because does anybody know what happens in 1864 in chambers big? john mcconnell and shows up on the scene. he makes yet another -- and pennsylvania aimed at chambersburg. the third time in three years chambersburg has been targeted. he is coming under the guise of orders from joe worley. he is upset about the destruction in virginia by david hunter and union troops, and he has made the decision that somebody is going to pay for this. he says you can start ransoming northern towns. they are going to ransom hagerstown. by the time they get to
chambersburg, the s for $100,000 in gold. in 1863, joe worley has ransomed york, pennsylvania for $100,000 in cash and three days worth of supplies, 1000 pairs of shoes. he gets almost all of that. the stunt of ransoming people works. so they ransom chambersburg. the chambersburg citizens are like, they did not bill down york or gettysburg, they did not burn down carlisle. the last two times they were in chambersburg, they only burned down the railroad. we don't have railroad buildings to burn, we are safe. only 10 miles away is the union regular calvary. not regular, volunteer calvary. the people of chambersburg tell him to count salt. he says he wasn't kidding and he orders the town torched. the confederate officers protest, he puts them under
arrest in extreme cases, and the confederates porch chambersburg. they don't have railroad buildings, but they have the town itself, and they lay waste to it. we have probably seen many pictures of what chambersburg looks like after this devastating raid. the railroad suffers little damage but railroad employees are devastated. there are a lot of railroad employees who live in and around chambersburg, that is the railroad home before the war. the cvrr is still operational and can still haul refugees out of chambersburg, and they do it. men and women who have lost their homes, they had no charge, they will call you to harrisburg
if you want a fresh start. a lot of residents will ride cvrr a final time and never return to chambersburg. some do, but many start all over somewhere else. the railroad makes its final shipment of troops into chambersburg, the 201st pennsylvania in two police the town and restore order. 1865, anticipating the war will still last a while, there are two powerful new locomotives but the war ends before they can use them. april 22, the cvrr makes its final contribution to the war. they bring northerners from the cumberland valley to carlisle, particularly -- remember it's the same station as the northern central train that is bringing avery and lincoln's body from
washington, d.c.. of northern -- the northern central train arrives at the station and the cvrr has already brought in mourners. the final act is to bring soldiers home back to places like chambersburg, some of which only some know their homes are gone. they come back to rebuild with their wives. on behalf of my publisher and the gettysburg heritage center, thank you for your time and attention today, and hopefully you know a little more about one of the three key railroads in pennsylvania that ran between maryland and the commonwealth during the civil war. thank you for your time and attention. [applause] scott: we have time for a couple of questions, does anybody have anything? any questions on the railroad?
this was a pretty important railroad the most people don't realize. how many of you that george pickett spent that time wrecking railroads? that's one of the revelations that people reading the book have not realize that was his main role for pickett's charge, to wreck the railroads. i will turn it back over to tammy. tammy: thank you, we appreciate it, scott. this is american history tv on c-span 3. we feature 48 hours of programs exploring our nation's past area -- nations past.
this weekend on american history tv, mark wilkins examines the psychological impact of world war i aerial combat. a nervous condition brought on by flying. here is a preview. this is an interesting subject, the notion is fascinating. we are all familiar with the term shellshocked. it was an inadequate term to describe what was happening to these people who came from largely rural environments. thrust into this tech
shock in the western front where you have this enemy destroying everything around you and how does the average psyche come to grips with that? originallyd, doctors -- the notion of military psychiatry evolved with the war. higher to the work, notions of any kind of mental problems was largely viewed as cowardice. this continued during the first world war. in england alone, we thousand , 342 wereowardice executed for it. -- 3000 cases of cowardice, 342 were executive -- executed for. genuinee suffering from war neurosis. neurosis -- aero
neurosis, this is the title of my book. i was not happy with it. the publisher thought it would be catchy. combat fatigue and how killing people is never a good thing. if you are a human being with a conscious, it is a game changer -- with a conscience, it is a game changer. >> learn more about the psychological impact on world war i aerial combat pilots with mark wilkins sunday at 2:00 eastern. onlore our nations past here american history tv. >> monday night on the communicators, tennessee senator marsha blackburn, chair of the judiciary committees technology iask force on china's huawe company in the u.s. and regulating big tech.
some of the social media platforms that are beginning to distribute news and have a newsfeed, individuals want to see them have a news director. >> monday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span 2. next, on the civil war, a talk about the activities of the union regiment during the war and after, including the dedication of a monument at gettysburg. he has taught at the united states military academy, shepherd university, and the graduate school of norwich university.