View single post by ole
 Posted: Sun Mar 21st, 2010 03:25 am
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Joined: Sun Oct 22nd, 2006
Posts: 2027

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You don't suppose the proximity of Gettysburg to the District of Corruption had anything to do with its popularity, do you? Part of the reason Lee marched north was to draw troops from Vicksburg and a victory at Gettysburg may have lifted the siege. From that standpoint, Gettysburg is more important. From the standpoint of which had a larger impact, I would say Vicksburg - once it fell. Because the railroads of the south didn't have uniform guages of tracks, freight had to frequently be unloaded and reloaded to move it to destination. That, as much as anything, was the importance of Vicksburg, to be able to move supplies more efficiently. After that, supplies had to come from the southeast which was slower, and the quantity much lower.
Way too much to pass up.

Part of the reason Lee gave Davis for not sending troops west to relieve V'burg was that he needed them to invade Pennsylvania. The jury is still out on what he was really thinking.

Vicksburg was symbolic. Across the river was a short railroad reaching to near Texas. On its own side of the river was a short railroad reaching to Jackson. There wasn't a whole bunch of Texas food destined for Confederate forces crossing the river at Vicksburg. Its value was primarily in the free traffic on the river.

The problem with southern rails was not so much the different gauges (most were actually the same gauge), but the inability to keep them running and the sorry idea that few went anywhere. The practice was, and it was true in the north as well, that (for example) this RR went from Cleveland to Cincinnati. Across town, there was another RR that went to Chicago and back. On the other side of town was another that went to Pittsburgh. Nothing connected. Investors would build a road to sell Pittsburg steel in Cincinnati, but they didn't figure on selling it in Chicago or Indianapolis as well. But, in spite of the disconnect, one could actually get from Chicago to the District of Corruption on trains (love that name). Try getting from Atlanta to Charleston. Only possible.

Another problem with southern rails was that many were designed simply to get cotton bales to the nearest river. Nobody built rails to get Kentucky grain to Georgia or Alabama.

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