Thursday, July 28, 2022

Booknotes: The Mobile & Ohio Railroad in the Civil War

New Arrival:
The Mobile & Ohio Railroad in the Civil War: The Struggle for Control of the Nation's Longest Railway by Dan Lee (McFarland, 2022).

In the Civil War literature, the Memphis & Charleston Railroad is often styled the backbone of the Confederacy's internal transportation network, and the Mobile & Ohio RR, which stretched between Mobile, Alabama and Columbus, Kentucky in 1861 (it would not reach the Ohio River until the 1880s), comprised vital limbs attached to the vertebra of the M&C at Corinth, Mississippi. For those with raised eyebrows over the subtitle of Dan Lee's The Mobile & Ohio Railroad in the Civil War: The Struggle for Control of the Nation's Longest Railway, he gives the nod to the M&O for its single ownership over its entire length (in comparison to say the M&C, which, according to Lee, was comprised of five independently owned railroad companies at the time of the Civil War).

From the description: "The Mobile & Ohio Railroad was the longest line in the nation when it was completed in spring of 1861--the final spike driven a few weeks after Confederate artillery shelled Fort Sumter. Within days, the M&O was swept up in the Civil War as a prime conveyor of troops and supplies, a strategic and tactical asset to both Confederate and Union armies, who fought to control it."

In recognition of its critical importance, attacking or defending the Mobile & Ohio RR became the objective of armies and cavalry raiders at many points during the war. More from the description: The M&O's "northern terminus at Columbus, Kentucky saw some of the earliest fighting in the war. The southern terminus in Mobile, Alabama was the scene of some of the last. U. S. Grant, William T. Sherman, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Newton Knight of the "Free State of Jones" and others battled over the M&O, the Federals taking it mile-by-mile."

Lee's The Mobile & Ohio Railroad in the Civil War "chronicles the campaigns and battles for the railroad and the calamity endured by the civilians who lived along it."

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