When the Civil War began, railroads in the North were poised to support the Union war effort by moving men and material in volumes and speed never before seen in the historyof warfare. One of the leading railroads in the nation, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was located in the South, but economically tied to the North and West. Immediately after the firing on Fort Sumter, the Baltimore and Ohio became the first military objective of the war. Union soldiers arrived at Camden Station on April 19, 1861, following the first land battle of the war that was fought on the streets of Baltimore. The same day Virginia state troops occupied Harpers Ferry where a 1000-foot bridge carried trains over the Potomac River. A month later, a Union regiment commanded by a former B&O employee left the western terminus at Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia), to drive off Confederate forces near Grafton. Thus, it can be stated that the first front of the war was neither a political nor a geographical boundary, but the main line of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Dan Toomey will explore this first front concept in depth.
Last Updated: 2/12/2014 10:55 AM