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[274]

With miles of black and yellow mud between them and the base of supplies, and a short day's ration of bacon and hardtack in their haversacks, the hearts of the weary soldiers were gladdened many times by the musical screech of a locomotive, announcing that the railroad was at last up to the front, and that in a short time they would have full rations and mail from home. The armies that operated in Virginia and in Georgia greeted, very often, the whistle of the engine with shouts of joy. They knew the construction corps was doing its duty, and here was the evidence.

In the strict sense of the term, there were but few military railroads in the United States during the Civil War, and these few existed only in portions of the theater of war in Virginia, in Tennessee, and in Georgia. Roads owned by private corporations were seized, from time to time, and operated by the Governments of both sides as military necessities dictated, but, technically, these were not military roads, although for the intents and purposes to which they were all devoted, there should be no distinction drawn. The operation of a railroad under Government military supervision, while retaining its working personnel, made of it a military road in every sense.

Great railroad development in this country began during the second quarter of the nineteenth century. The United States Government, about 1837, adopted the policy of loaning to railroad companies officers of the army who had made a scientific study of this new means of communication, and the result was a benefit to the roads and the Government.

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