In the great Atlanta campaign
, the railroad work of every kind was probably the best of the war. The hard schools of Virginia
and around Chattanooga
had prepared the railroad corps to initiate greater exhibitions of skill and efficiency.
had such confidence in the abilities of the construction corps to keep pace with him that he frequently risked advances which depended entirely on rapid railroad work behind the corps of his army, feeling assured that the rail communications would keep up with his movements.
They did, and the moral effect of a screaming locomotive constantly close in the rear of his army, notwithstanding the tremendous destructive efforts of the Confederates
in their retreat, was very great on both armies.
A long, high bridge would be destroyed, miles of track totally obliterated, and the Confederates
would retire; the Federals
would advance, cross the stream in the face of opposition, and no sooner across than, to the consternation of the Confederates
and the delight of the Federals
, an “iron devil” would immediately set up its heartrending (delightful) screech, announcing that, march as hard and as fast as they might, neither army could get away from the end of the railroad.
The marvelous celerity with which bridges were repaired or rebuilt, new mileage of track opened, and the operation of the road carried on, notwithstanding the numerous breaks by raiding parties, will always remain a bright page in the history of the Civil War
. Colonel W. W. Wright
directed the transportation and remained most of the time with Sherman
; General Adna Anderson
directed repairs to the road, including the reconstruction of the bridges, but this latter work was under the immediate direction of Colonel E. C. Smeed
All of these officers had had previous experience in military and civil railroading that fitted them admirably for the work.
says the operation of his railroads was brilliant; that the campaign could not have been prosecuted without the efficient service which he received; that altogether there were