Since the dawn of history, military strategy had been dominated by logistics. According to an old saying, “Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics.” During the civil War, railroads were still a military novelty. When Union Army General John Pope needed critical supplies in August 1862, packed boxcars were sitting in Washington. The supplies could not be moved across the Potomac River because authorities were afraid that available locomotives were too heavy for the rickety railroad bridge across the Potomac.
A single stretch of track of the Orange and Alexandria railroad connected the Union Army of the Potomac to the vast supply depots of Washington. Confederate raiders periodically cut telegraph lines, tore up railroad tracks and destroyed railway bridges. Keeping the trains running was an enormous tasks and essential for Union victory.
Civil War railroads
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