The Civil War Homefront: Railroads

Maryland State Archives
350 Rowe Boulevard
Annapolis, MD 21401

Phone: (410) 260-6400


During the Civil War, both the North and the South utilized a new technology in the waging of war; the railroads.  Trains allowed the military to quickly transport troops and supplies over long distances like never before.  The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, whose right-of-way ran along the border between the warring nations, was constantly the subject of attacks by the rebels.  It was this same location that made the railroad a valuable asset to the North.

National History Standard

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following National History Standards for Grades 5-12:


STANDARD 2: The course and character of the Civil War and its effects on the American people.

Standard 2A: The student understands how the resources of the Union and Confederacy affected the course of the war.
Compare the human resources of the Union and the Confederacy at the beginning of the Civil War and assess the tactical advantages of each side.
5-12: Identify the innovations in military technology and explain their impact on humans, property, and the final outcome of the war.

Primary Resources

  1. TITLE:  Battery to Protect Workman
    SOURCE:  The Soldier In Our Civil War
    REPOSITORY:  B&O Railroad Museum Archives

  2. TITLE:   The Tray Run Viaduct
    NOTES: "Transportation of Irvine's Sixteenth Regiment of Ohio Volunteer Militia over the Tray Run Viaduct on the Baltimore and Ohio Railway, en route to Rowelsburg, VA. - From a sketch by our special artist accompanying Major General McClellan's Command." 
    SOURCE:  Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
    REPOSITORY:  B&O Road Museum Archives

  3. TITLE:   Repairing the Millerville Bridge
    SOURCE:  The Soldier in Our Civil War
    REPOSITORY:  B&O Road Museum Archives

  4. TITLE:  The War in Maryland
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  October 4, 1862
    SOURCE:  Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
    REPOSITORY:  B&O Road Museum Archives

  5. TITLE:  The Army of the Potomac
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  December 12, 1863
    SOURCE: Harper's Weekly 
    REPOSITORY:  B&O Road Museum Archives

  6. TITLE:  The Baltimore and Ohio Railway
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  November 16, 1861
    SOURCE:  Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
    REPOSITORY:  B&O Road Museum Archives

  7. TITLE:  Military Transport Ticket
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  September 17, 1863
    NOTES: This ticket was used by as a receipt by Union Troops for movement on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.  On September 17, 1863, eighty four officers and men were transported by the railroad from Baltimore to Washington
    SOURCE:  The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
    REPOSITORY:  B&O Road Museum Archives

Additional Media Resources

Introduction to Civil War materials at the National Archives.

War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

Images of Civil War railroads

Railroad Generalship: Foundations of Civil War Strategy

Civil War Preservation Trust: Reenactors

Additional Instructional Resources

Resources on Incorporating Primary Sources and Historic Sites in Classroom Instruction

Trains, Telegraphs, and Steamships: War's New Weapons

I Hear the Locomotives: The Impact of the Transcontinental Railroad

Secondary Resources

(from "Civil War Railroad Bibliography")

Abdill, George B.  Civil War Railroads:  A Pictorial Story of the War Between the States, 1861-1865.  Seattle:  Superior Publishing, 1961.  Reprinted by Indiana University Press, 1999.

Black, Robert C., III.  The Railroads of the Confederacy.  Chapel Hill:  University of North Carolina Press, 1952.  Reprinted 1998.

Johnson, Edward A.  "Railroads."  In The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History & Culture, Editor-in-Chief Carroll Van West, 769-773.  Nashville:  Rutledge Press, 1998.

O'Neal, Michael Ray.  Historic Railroad Architecture in Middle Tennessee.  M.A. Thesis, MTSU History Department, 1983.

Pickenpaugh, Roger.  Rescue by Rail:  Troop Transfer and the Civil War in the West, 1863.  Lincoln:  University of Nebraska Press, 1998.

Stover, John F.  Iron Road to the West: American Railroads in the 1850s.  New York:  Columbia University Press, 1978.

Sulzer, Elmer G.  Ghost Railroads of Tennessee.  Indianapolis:  Vane A. Jones, 1975.  Reprinted by Indiana University Press, 1998.

Turner, George Edgar.  Victory Rode the Rails:  The Strategic Place of Railroads in the Civil War.  Indianapolis:  Bobbs-Merrill, 1953.  Reprinted 1992.

U.S. War Department.  The War of the the Rebellion:  A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.  Washington:  U.S. Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.  128 volumes.

Weber, Thomas.  The Northern Railroads in the Civil War, 1861-1865.  Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1952.  Reprinted 1999.

Associated Heritage and Preservation Organizations

B&O Railroad Museum             
901 W. Pratt St. 
Baltimore, MD 21223      
Baltimore Civil War Museum -
President Street Station

601 President Street
Baltimore, MD 21202


Teaching American History in Maryland is a collaborative partnership of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education (CHE), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the following sponsoring school systems: Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools.

Other program partners include the Martha Ross Center for Oral History, Maryland Historical Society, State Library Resource Center/Enoch Pratt Free Library, with assistance from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

This document packet was researched and developed by Richard Olson.

An Archives of Maryland Online Publication
© Copyright, Maryland State Archives, August 16, 2006