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  • Letter from William H. Seevers to Thomas M. Isett and William C. Brewster, November 12, 1860

    In this letter from November 12, 1860, William H. Seevers writes to Thomas M. Isett and William C. Brewster discussing the sale of their land near Oskaloosa, Iowa. He states that Reed was correct in his belief that "our land could not be avoided" by the railroad construction, but believes that they must also consider the desires of the stockholders.

  • | Letter

    Letter from John R. Boyle to Samuel B. Reed, November 26, 1860

    In this letter from November 26, 1860, John R. Boyle writes to Samuel Reed from Washington , Iowa describing the character of work on the railroad there. He states that the work is "very light," and approves of the fact that the company "has ordered their expenses very low." He notes that after he paid all of his men he received $2,600 instead of $5,600, but believes all will be well eventually. Boyle also writes that he has not heard back from "those Cedar Rapids people" regarding some work, but he does not believe they have enough money to offer work in any case. He says that not much will be done over the winter with "the country in such a disturbed state."

  • | Letter

    Letter from John McConihe to John Kellogg, December 23, 1860

    In this December 23, 1860 letter from John McConihe to John Kellogg, McConihe recounts the fate of the freight he sent to Denver and his plans to send another supply train west in February. McConihe also informs Kellogg of his plans to return to New York and expresses his confidence that the Union will "be patched up" in time for him to turn a profit the next year.

  • | Photograph

    Barricades at Alexandria, Virginia.

  • | Photograph

    Cars of U.S. Military Rail Road, and bridge built by soldiers

  • | Photograph

    Confederate guns, Pensacola Bay, 1861

    Columbiad guns of the Confederate water battery at Warrington, Fla., near Pensacola, February 1861. With the railroad to Pensacola under construction and finally completed in May, the Confederates could move large guns and troops more quickly to the coast.

  • | Book

    Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

    In these excerpts from her memoir, Harriet Jacobs writes of the segregation and prejudice she faced in the North almost immediately after escaping from slavery.

  • | Photograph

    Military railroad bridge over Potomac Creek on the Richmond, Frederickburg & Potomac Railroad

    A trestle railroad bridge built by the United States Military Railroad Construction Corps.

  • | Map

    Railroad access trend line by state, 1861

    Using a fifteen-mile buffer around the railroad networks for each state in 1861, and an algorithm to distribute a county?s population across the landscape, this estimate of the percentage of county residents who had access to the railroad depots shows the South?s advances in the 1850s. The addition of more railroad miles reached a point of diminishing returns in every state.

  • | Photograph

    Rails for military railroad, Alexandria, Virginia.

  • | Photograph

    Roundhouse at Alexandria

    A Matthew Brady image of the roundhouse at Alexandria, Virginia during the Civil War.

  • | Photograph

    Slave pen of Price, Birch & Co., Alexandria, VA: ca. 1860 - ca. 1865

    A Matthew Brady image of the slave pen of Price, Birch & Co., Alexandria, Virginia.

  • | Photograph

    U.S. Military Railroad Construction Corps at work on the Aquia Creek and Fredericksburg Railroad

    Construction corps at work on the Aquia Creek and Fredericksburg Railroad.

  • | Letter

    Breif report on slave market in New Orleans

    In this February 18, 1861 letter from A. J. Rux to E.H. Stokes, Rux briefly describes the state of the slave market in New Orleans.

  • | Letter

    Letter from H. Thielsen to Samuel B. Reed, February 19, 1861

    In this letter from February 19, 1861, H. Thielsen writes to Samuel Reed offering high praise of both his and John R. Boyle's abilities as contractors. He states that he believes the prospects of commencing work in the spring appear "slender," as orders to undertake work on roughly 55 miles of the lines from Ottumwa, Iowa to Chariton, Iowa were withdrawn when the Secession Crisis occurred. He tells Reed that the "character of the work though is what a contractor would call magnificent."

  • | Letter

    Letter from A. J. Rux to E. H. Stokes, February 22, 1861

    In this February 22, 1861 letter from A. J. Rux to E. H. Stokes, Rux describes the sale of a female slave named Harriett for $1,000. He confides to Stokes that he is "ashamed" of the low price he received, but notes that Harriett's "same old complaint" and break out attempts were so frustrating that "I sold her where I don't think we will ever hear from her again."

  • | Letter

    Letter from John R. Boyle to Samuel B. Reed, March 8, 1861

    In this letter from March 8, 1861, John R. Boyle writes to Samuel Reed discussing the prospects for employment on a railroad in the near future. He states that he would prefer working for Mr. Thielsen to working on the Mississippi and Missouri Railroad as he does not believe that railroad will be capable of "doing anything as long as those troubles between the north and south exist." Boyle also notes that he rejected an invitation to work on the Cedar Rapids Railroad, believing it would be better to "stay on our farms than work on a R Road that has no money." He declares that if the troubles between the North and South were settled, there would be more work available.

  • | Letter

    Letter from John McConihe to John Kellogg, March 15, 1861

    In this March 15, 1861 letter from John McConihe to friend and business partner John Kellogg, McConihe mentions a few general business transactions and tells of organizing another freight load to send to Denver.

  • | Letter

    Letter from John McConihe to John Kellogg, May 6, 1861

    In this May 6, 1861 letter from John McConihe to his friend and business partner, John Kellogg, McConihe tells of his lack of success in freighting goods to Denver (a failure he blames on the Civil War curtailing westward migration) and his decision to quit the venture. He also expresses his disappointment in the territorial government and about the handling of the Civil War. He closes the letter on a happier note, congratulating Kellogg on his impending marriage and graduation from the "Bachelor circle".

  • | Illustration

    Seventh Regiment on Board the "Boston," En Route for Annapolis

    This image from the May 11, 1861 issue of Harper's Weekly depicts members of the Seventh Regiment aboard the steamship "Boston," en route to Annapolis, Maryland.