Friday, November 28, 2008

Estaville, Jr.: "Confederate Neckties: Louisiana Railroads in the Civil War"

[Confederate Neckties: Louisiana Railroads in the Civil War by Lawrence E. Estaville, Jr. (Louisiana Tech Univ., 1989) Hardcover, 12 maps, photos, drawings, notes, bibliography, index. 123 pp. ISBN: 0940231050]

Part of a series of scholarly monographs, Confederate Neckties is a fascinating little military, economic, and financial study of Louisiana's 395 miles of track. In 1861, there were twelve railroad companies in the state, the longest 88 miles and the shortest 0.5. Estaville's brief, but fully documented, study is packed with information. Company financial concerns are covered as well as the regional economic impact of each line. Additionally, a physical description [materials used, stations, depots, number of locomotives and cars, etc.] is provided. The maps trace the course of each railroad, showing the important stations and depots along the way. Also, if relevant, the operational and tactical military use of each railroad is explained.

On a side note, I learned of a previously unknown to me peril of riding over strap-rails. With the cheap, flimsy iron rails, a phenomenon called "Snake Heads" occurred. With this situation, a passing train would cause the rail to separate from the tie and spring up; the next wheel would roll under the "sprung" rail, shooting it through the floor of the car and impaling the passenger against the roof. How quaint.

Grisly interlude aside, I would recommend this well researched and informative volume for any Trans-Mississippi theater or Civil War railroad history reference library.

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