Author: Meredith Bocian

a doctoral student at Auburn University, pursuing a degree in nineteenth-century United States history

Virginia Central Railroad during the Civil War, The

The Virginia General Assembly chartered the Louisa Railroad, the predecessor of the Virginia Central Railroad, in 1836. The line’s eastern terminus was at Hanover Junction (present-day Doswell), about twenty miles north of Richmond, where it joined the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad (RF&P), and Charlottesville was the western terminus. Construction proceeded slowly, and in 1850, after the line had been extended westward of Louisa County, the name was changed to the Virginia Central Railroad. At first, the railroad had shared track to Richmond with the RF&P, but in 1851 it began constructing its own line to the city. Eventually the western terminus was extended to Covington in the Allegheny Mountains, linking the line with the Covington and Ohio Railroad. By the time of the American Civil War (1861–1865), the Virginia Central Railroad was about two hundred miles long, from Richmond to Covington, and traversed the heart of the state.


Richmond and Petersburg Railroad during the Civil War, The

The Richmond and Petersburg Railroad extended for twenty-two miles and linked the two central Virginia cities. The Virginia General Assembly chartered the company in 1836 and the line was completed two years later. Despite its name, however, the southern terminus of the railroad actually was in the suburb of Pocahontas, which lay on the north bank of the Appomattox River across from Petersburg. Goods and passengers had to be off-loaded and disembarked at the Pocahontas station and then transported by wagon and carriage across a bridge into Petersburg. Once in the city, there were several rail-transportation options. The Petersburg Railroad, also known as the Weldon Railroad, led south to North Carolina, while the South Side Railroad ran west to Lynchburg and the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad linked those two cities.


Richmond and Danville Railroad during the Civil War

The Richmond and Danville Railroad, which connected the Confederate capital at Richmond with Southside Virginia, was an instrumental supply route for the Confederacy during the American Civil War (1861–1865). The railroad began construction in 1848 and maintained 140 miles in Virginia, holding one of the largest rolling stocks. The line moved southwest from Richmond to the city of Danville, Virginia, near the North Carolina border. While this railroad’s tracks did not exceed the state’s boundaries, it did provide connections to various sections of Virginia, particularly Southwest Virginia, through the Richmond and Petersburg and South Side railroads. Though the Richmond and Danville suffered immense damage during the Civil War, the Confederacy continuously used the railroad until Confederate general Robert E. Lee‘s surrender at Appomattox in April 1865.


Baltimore and Ohio Railroad during the Civil War

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, an early leader in the transportation revolution, provided the country with a more efficient means of travel. The rail line’s construction began on July 4, 1828, and eventually expanded into thirteen states. In 1861 the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad maintained 188 miles in Virginia and independently offered a direct connection to both eastern and western Virginia. The railroad was primarily northern with only a portion of its line in northern Virginia. During the American Civil War (1861–1865), the once-vast and continuous line was broken into sections and was subject to a number of raids by both Union and Confederate forces.