View single post by Hellcat
 Posted: Mon Jan 23rd, 2012 03:26 am
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Hellcat
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Joined: Tue Nov 15th, 2005
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Ok for years I've had an interest in the railroads during the war brought on from checking out a book from the local library which showed a fortified railroad bridge. The thing was a desire to get back into an old hobby, model railroading, and do a Civil War style layout. This finally lead to me purchasing  Robert R. Hodges Jr.'s American Civil War Railroad Tactics last month looking more for the pictures in the book as a means of helping with creating a layout if I ever get that going. Need a starting point to hopefully get you in gear, right?

Keep in mind that I wasn't just after a picture book when I purchased the book, the idea with the pictures is a little more knowing how things looked rather than more simply imagining the appearance based on descriptions. I also wanted something to explain abou the use of the railroads during the war. The idea in my mind wasn't just what the trains would look like but ideas on how they were used for setting up something similar for a model railroad layout.

One of the things that has gotten me going through the book is how in some cases they were actually making ironclads for use on land. I'd naturally heard of the Dictator being used at Petersburg and had scene images of a heavy rail  battery Federal forces also used during the siege which to me just showed a cannon poking out through a sloped wooden shield. To me that was it for the railroads as weapons of war, otherwise I just thought of them as being used to transport troops and supplies. And of course the Great Locomotive Chase. I don't recall having head of Lee's "Dry Land Merrimac" and I certainly hadn't heard much of the North building ironclad railroad cars of a similar design to the design of the CSS Virginia. A casement lined with railroad rails for armor. The heavy battery cars carrying a single heavy cannon (32 pounders are the ones I've seen mentioned the most) facing forward while the light batteries might carry two or three field artillery pieces.

The Federal ironclad railroad car light batter design actually reminds me even more of the Virginia than the "Dry Land Merrimac" does because the field pieces could be moved about to point out various portholes. The images of multiple portholes is what really causes the comparison. It's stated that the reason is actually the recoil was considerably more in the heavier guns so that coupled with their weigh and the overall weight of the car forced a single gun on the car which pointed ahead of the car. The field pieces were lighter and had less recoil so they could have multiple cannons on the car and could be repositioned to fire ahead of the car or to one side.

The idea actually to me seems more like precurssors to the tank when compared with some of the railroad cars which were used for artillery.

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