Archiver > OH-FOOTSTEPS > 1999-10 > 0939948545

From: "Maggie Stewart" <>
Subject: Fw: Bio History -- Know Your Ohio -- Ohio in The Civil War -- Pt 3
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1999 20:49:05 -0400

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From: kathi kelley <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 1999 3:20 PM
Subject: Bio History -- Know Your Ohio -- Ohio in The Civil War -- Pt 3

Contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives
by Darlene E. Kelley
Oct 13, 1999
Historical Collections of Ohio
>From the diaries of S.J. Kelly
Know Your Ohio
by Darlene E. Kelley
Ohio In the Civil War -- part 3

Newspapers, Politics. and etc.

How the newspapers gathered news played an important role in the north
and the south. Not much had been written about the southern press. In
many ways editorial reactions were the same in both the north and the
south. For example, southern editors were highly critical of military
strategies, and journelists such as Robert Barnell, editor of the
Charleston Mercury, attacked the Confederate administration just as
violently as Lincoln was being attacked in the north. War aims were not
as much an issue as they were in the North, however, nor was there
anything quite corresponding to the Copperhead press. When the war
began, the south had no system for preparing or transmitting news of
public interest to replace the severed connection with the New York
Associated Press. An Augusta editor began sending out a brief daily
summary to be telegraphed to a few newspapers willing to pay for the
service, but this was never widely used. In 1862, the papers of Richmond
tried to establish a more effective organization. Publishers realized
that to meet the expense of covering the war, they all would have to
work together. They also saw that in order to place correspondants where
they would be needed, they would have to pool resources. It was evident
that the Richmond papers could not achive these results by themselves.
Following a series of conferences, Joseph Clisby of the Macon Telegraph
summoned the editor of every daily in the south to attend a meeting in
Augusta on Feb 4,1862. The Association of the Richmond Press had just
been organized, and the plan was to expand the idea by organizing a
National Press Association. On the whole, the Press Association served
its clients well. When Gen P.G.T. Beauregard began to hold up
dispatches, the press association approached him and presented that the
association's aim was to obtain accurate reports for the good of the
public, consistent with military security, the Gen was impressed but
somewhai concerned. As a result, a compromise was worked out-- reporters
were instructed NOT to send opinions or comments on events. They were
furthur warned to sift rumors and to offer no information that would aid
the enemy. The objectivity of the Press Association stories has been
regarded as constituting a complete revolution in journalistic writing.
Newspapers that seldom had sucess to regular wire news budgets were now
able to keep readers up to date on the war. Short, but complete, reports
supplanted the rambling, confused accounts of prewar days. The
development of the Press Association was a big step in both the north
and the south journalism. Dispatches were transmitted over Military
Telegraph lines, the Army system, at half the price. There was also a
satisfactory arrangement with the private Telegraph systems. Many
reports now could come in from New York and visa versa. Ohio also relied
on the outside news as their military units could count on reliable
telegraph messages especially from the larger newspapers.


The civil war is renowned for the introduction and employment of many
new weapons, including rifled artillery, and machine guns and
submarines. To the list should be railroad weapons, which were the
predecessors of modern armored fighting vehicles. During the war,
railroads were second only to waterways in providing logistical support
for the armies. They were also vital to the economies of the divided
nation. Large military forces were, of course, the worst danger to
railroads, because they supplied the units that were on the campaign.
Railroads were often major objectives-- an army without supplies cannot
operate for long. Since the only sure way to deal with large scale
threats was with a force of simular size, armies often stayed near the
railroad tracks. While armies campaigned, locomotives and rolling stock
provided logistical support, and some also performed tactical missions.
These missions included close combat, especially when the situation was
fluid or when the railroad provided a convenient avenue of approach to
an opponent. In such situations, commanders sometimes sent locomotives
to reconnoiter the terrain and gain information on enemy troop
dispositions. While this may seem like a risky venture, gathering
information was often worth the risk, and lone locomotives could quickly
reverse direction and move as fast as 60 mph, far faster than pursuing
cavalry. With such great mobility, locomotives were useful as courier
vehicles when commanders had to rush vital intellience to headquarters.
This communications service was an important advantage in a war where
raiders frequently cut or tapped telegraph lines. They also transported
to the newspapers pertinent information when telegraph lines were down.
Useful as they were for tactical and logistical support, locomotives
were vulnerable to derailments and sharpshooters, who might perforate a
boiler or a crewman. Federal officers accordingly inspected rails and
armored some of their engines against small-arms fire. Unforunately,
their crews found that the armor trapped too much heat inside the cabs
and limited egress if there was an accident. This was an important
considertion, since a ruptured boiler could scald a crew in their iron
cab like lobsters in a pot. This grisly prospect encouraged many crewmen
to take chances by jumping from the cab in the event of a derailment. An
eventful compromise included applying armor to some parts of the cab and
installing small oval windows, thus reducing the chances of a
sharpshooter's bullet penetrating the glass, while still affording
adequate visibility for the crew. In special situations, locomotives
served as rams. Troops might start a locomotive down a track with a full
head of steam to damage an enemy train or facilities, or to attack
troops. On one occasion, Confederate soldiers lurking near a burned
bridge suddenly saw a burning ammunition train hurtling straight toward
them, forcing them to retreat. Troops sometimes launched individal cars,
also set ablaze, against opponents, or used them to burn bridges. The
potential for such railborne threats prompted commanders to build
obstructions on the tracks. Frieght trains might also deceive an enemy.
A train might run back and forth into an area, tricking scouts into
reporting that the enemy was reinforcing his position, when in fact he
was leaving. One Federal ruse involved sending a deserted train down the
tracks to entice Confederate artillery into firing, thereby revealing
their location to counterfire. While the trains might serve as artilery
bait, they could also transport heavy guns to the battlefield.
Commanders took this idea a step further during the war by mounting
heavy artillery pieces, which were very cumbersome to maeuver in the
field, on flatcars for combat operations. Locomotives or manpower
propelled these railroad batteries, dispensing with the horses that
normally were the prime movers for the guns and eliminating the need to
hitch and unhitch the gun from the horse team. This enabled a battery to
fire on the move, a significant advantage over its horse-drawen
counterparts. To protect railroad batteries against counterfire,
builders mounted thick iron and wooden shields on the flatcars at a
45-degree angle to deflect enemy projectiles. Batteries fired through
the shields' embrasures and then recoiled along the length of the cars,
arrested by ropes. The crews then reloaded the weapons and pushed them
back into battery position.
Not all railroad batteries had armored potection. Some relied on
mobility, covered firing positions, and firing during low visibility to
limit their exposure to enemy artillery. Other railroad batteries relied
on their superior range to batter opposing forces from afar. With such
capabilities, railroad artillery was appropriate for seige and
harrassment operations as well as head-to-head encounters between
As an Army advanced. it often had to rebuild railroads that the fleeing
enemy had destroyed. Construction trains, forerunners of modern engineer
corps vehicles, thus became indispensible to military operations. These
trains required armed protection, and infantrymen and cavalrymen often
accompanied them.
Also useful in railroad warfare were armed trains, which, as their name
implies, carried combat-ready troops and, at times, artillery. Their
march order, or sequence of cars, is noteworthy. The locomotive was
placed in the train's center, where it received some protection from the
train's cars and its own tender. Generally speaking, flatcars--sometimes
laden with troops and artillery-- rode at the train's ends to provide
the best fields of fire. Passenger or boxcars might ride between the
flatcars and the locomotive.
Armored trains performed several missions. In some instances they
doubled as construction trains. They also patrolled tracks, conducted
reconnaissance missions, and escorted supply trains. Individual armed
cars also accompanied supply trains, usually coupled to the front of a
locomotive. On one occasion, armed Federals stole a Confederate train
and wreaked havoc on the line. Meanwhile, another Federal armed train,
only recently commandeered from the Confederates, carried a conventional
force through Confederate territory to rendezvous with the renegade
Some armed trains carried sandbags or another form of shielding for the
troops on board, but this was not always the case. In the first few
months of the Civil War, troops disdained cover, since they were
accustomed to tactics best suited for the smoothbore musket. They
considered cowering behind cover during combat to be less than manly.
to be continued in part 4.

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