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III. Civil War Era Manufacturing
Capital Invested in Manufacturing:
Per Cent of National Industrial Investment:
Per Capita Industrial Investment:
The state of Massachusetts produced 1 1/2 times more manufactured goods than did the eleven seceding states combined. The city of Lowell, Massachusetts produced more cotton goods than did the eleven seceding states combined. The Northern states combined had ten times the manufacturing capacity of the South.
Of 143 important American inventions patented between 1790-1860, 133 patents were granted to inventors from Northern states, and fully half of those were granted to inventors from New England states.
At the time of Civil War, the United States was already the world front-runner in terms of firearms manufacture. The famous British Enfield rifle was produced using machinery imported from the US. A revolver factory in London used production machinery purchased from Samuel Colt and made in Connecticut.
IV. Civil War Era Land Transportation
In 1860, there were 88,000 miles of hard-surfaced roads in the United States, most of them in Northern states. Roads that had not been hard-surfaced became muddy quagmires after hard rains, and threw up clouds of people and livestock-choking dust when bone-dry in the summer. Even roads that had been hard-surfaced required regular maintenance, of course, and such efforts during the war were hampered (especially in the South) by lack of skilled labor and materials.
Miles of Railroad in 1861:
Miles of Railroad in 1865:
Confederacy: 9,400 (an overall increase, although some lines essential to the war effort were unusable due to capture or damage by Union armies)
Only one Civil War era railroad line ran east to west across the South: that line ran from Richmond through Chattanooga to Memphis (and was thus situated too close to the North to be easily defensible).
United States Military Railroads
On January 31, 1862, Congress passed the Railways and Telegraph Act, which allowed the president to bring under military control as necessary men and equipment of railroad and telegraph companies. On February 11, 1862, the War Department created the United States Military Railroads, which (for the most part) ran railroads in hostile or occupied territory. It eventually ran 16 railroads in the Eastern Theater and 19 shorter lines in the Western Theater on 2,105 miles of track. It operated 419 locomotives hauling 6,330 cars over that track.
Railroads in the Southern States
Southern railroads faced numerous problems during the war:
1. Lack of a central planning/administration authority
2. Lack of a uniform track gauge
3. Few railroad lines were connected- wagon transport of goods necessary from one rail line to the next
4. Few facilities in South to manufacture replacement locomotives, cars, and track
5. Union blockade made it extremely difficult to import needed locomotives, cars, and track
6. Labor shortage made it difficult to find skilled workers to make new railroad ties
7. Confederate Conscription Act of 1864 reduced number of railroad employees exempt from the draft
8. Southern railroads often the target of invading armies/cavalry raids
Achievements of the Civil War Railroads
1. During Atlanta Campaign, railroads moved supplies for 100,000 men and 35,000 animals from a supply base 360 miles distant. Moving those supplies by wagon would have required 36,800 wagons drawn by six mules each, each moving 20 miles per day.
2. After William S. Rosecrans's defeat at Chickamauga in September 1863, 20,000 Union troops, their animals and equipment were moved 1,200 miles in eleven days to reinforce Rosecrans's besieged army at Chattanooga.
3. Braxton Bragg in July 1862 managed to move 30,000 men 776 miles from Mississippi to Chattanooga (took a roundabout route to avoid Union troops) in two weeks.
[Sources of statistics and bibliography included in last installment of this article.]
Thomas A. Pearson, Reference Librarian
Special Collections Department
St. Louis Public Library