Did you know that Confederates attacked the Cumberland Valley Railroad three times in three years during the Civil War, including during the Gettysburg Campaign? Jeb Stuart burned many of the railroad's buildings in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, during his raid into Franklin and Adams counties in October 1862, scarcely a month after the battle of Antietam / Sharpsburg. Then, in June 1863, Albert Jenkins burned one of the CVRR's most important bridges, that at Scotland, PA. Days later, George Pickett's division wrecked the rails around Chambersburg, twisted ties over bonfires, and ripped down telegraph wires. In 1864, John McCausland's cavalry sacked and burned Chambersburg. Throw in the importance of the CVRR in the first year of the war (1861) when aged Union Major General Robert Patterson used the CVRR extensively to assemble one of the first of the new volunteer armies. After drilling his men at Chambersburg, he moved them via the CVRR boxcars and passenger cars down to Hagerstown, Maryland. There, they headed for the Shenandoah Valley in an unsuccessful attempt to pin down Joseph E Johnston's Rebels.
Cooper Wingert and I explore these topics, and many more, in our new book Targeted Tracks: The Cumberland Valley Railroad in the Civil War (SIGNED copies available now). Among the many interesting accounts is the story of the fastest train ride up to that time in southern Pennsylvania history. After Antietam, General McClellan needed fresh artillery ammunition for his big guns. The CVRR collaborated with the War Department and two other railroads (B&O and Northern Central) to move a trainload of ammo from Washington, DC, to Hagerstown at the unheard of speed of 37 mph. That was well above the previous fastest trip.
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- Guest blog post by Scott L. Mingus Sr.