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[159]

The precarious military rail-road in 1864 A close look down the line will convince the beholder that this is no modern rail-road with rock-ballasted road-bed and heavy rails, but a precarious construction of the Civil War, with light, easily bent iron which hundreds of lives were sacrificed to keep approximately straight. In order to supply an army it is absolutely necessary to keep open the lines of communication. An extract from General Rosecrans' letter to General Halleck, written October 16, 1863, brings out this necessity most vividly: “Evidence increases that the enemy intend a desperate effort to destroy this army. They are bringing up troops to our front. They have prepared pontoons, and will probably operate on our left flank, either to cross the river and force us to quit this place and fight them, or lose our communication. They will thus separate us from Burnside. We cannot feed Hooker's troops on our left, nor can we spare them from our right depots and communications, nor has he transportation. . . . Had we the railroad from here to Bridgeport, the whole of Sherman's and Hooker's troops brought up, we should not probably outnumber the enemy. This army, with its back to the barren mountains, roads narrow and difficult, while the enemy has the railroad and the corn in his rear, is at much disadvantage.” The railway repairs of Sherman's army in the Atlanta campaign were under the management of Colonel Wright, a civil engineer, with a corps of two thousand men. They often had to work under a galling fire until the Confederates had been driven away, but their efficiency and skill was beyond praise. The ordinary wooden railway bridges were reconstructed with a standard pattern of truss, of which the parts were interchangeable, safely in the rear.

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Bridgeport, Tennessee (Tennessee, United States) (1)

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Sherman (2)
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October 16th, 1863 AD (1)
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