Iowans Rebuild Railroad

Time Frame: 1863

Confederate troops destroyed railroad tracks in 1863, and Iowan Grenville Dodge organized men to rebuild them. Soldiers and freed slaves did the back-breaking work.
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“The Civil War,” The Iowa Heritage: Program # 5, Iowa Public Television, 1977.

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In 1863 Confederate troops tore up tracks and bridges on the Nashville to Decatur Railroad, creating transportation problems for the Union Army. Grenville Dodge was once again called upon to help out. General Grant ordered Dodge to rebuild the railroad because of his experience as a surveyor and railroad engineer. Soldiers and escaped slaves were organized to repair damaged tracks. Some men cut timber for bridges and fuel, others repaired cars and locomotives and some worked as blacksmiths straightening rails and spikes. Other men were employed as butchers, millers and cooks who saw to it that the workers were fed. In only 40 days, Dodge and his men had laid 102 miles of track and had built 182 bridges.


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