Pennsylvania in the Civil War

Virtue ~ Liberty ~ Independence

Herman Haupt
1817 - 1905

An engineer, Herman Haupt revolutionized the use of trains in warfare. During the war, railroads were second only to waterways in providing logistical support for the armies. They were also vital to the economies of the divided nation.

Haupt, an authority on bridge construction, went into railroad design and construction, and built many of the most difficult stretches of rail line in the Northeast.

In 1862, Union Secretary of War Edwin Stanton appointed Colonel and director of the U.S. military railroads in the Civil War. He was charged with the supervision of construction and transportation on all the military railroads. The necessities of military operations forced him to make many innovations in order to quickly repair damaged or destroyed lines and bridges,

Although he resented army red tape and the interference of Union officers, the no-nonsense engineer ran a hugely efficient operation, safeguarding tracks from Confederate raiders and building and repairing bridges "quicker than the Rebs can burn them down," as one of his men noted.

One of Haupt's noteworthy accomplishment was the construction, using inferior wood and unskilled laborers,

March 26, 1817

December 14, 1905
Aboard a train, Jersey City, NJ
West Laurel Hill Cemetery

West Point, Engineering, 1835

Superintendent, Pennsylvania Railroad In the 1850s he financed, designed, and built a series of rail lines in the Northeast that were extraordinary feats of engineering, highlighted by the five-mile long Hoosac tunnel through the Berkshires. The Bunker Hill covered bridge is the last remaining example of Herman Haupt's 1839 patent for the improved lattice truss.

Railroad engineer - continued in railroading for 40 years.
Author - wrote several important engineering treatises.
Inventor - invented an innovative pneumatic drill.

of a 80 feet high and 400 feet long bridge across Potomac Creek in less than two weeks. Marveling that there was "nothing in it but beanpoles and cornstalks," Lincoln called the bridge "the most remarkable structure that human eyes ever rested upon."

During the second Battle of Bull Run, Haupt had trains running near Manassas Junction within four days after a lengthy stretch of railroad track was cut by Confederate General "Stonewall" Jackson. Haupt also devised prefabricated parts for bridges and tracks, organized the first Union construction corps, and vastly improved the use of rail lines for troop and supply movements. In the midst of fierce fighting, Haupt was able to send trains through to deliver food, weapons, and reinforcements and bring back wounded soldiers.

On September 14, 1862, President Lincoln appointed Herman Haupt a Brigadier General of Volunteers. He officially declined his general's appointment in late 1863 and returned to private business affairs. Herman Haupt continued in railroading for more than 40 years.


The Civil War Society. Encyclopedia of the Civil War. New York: Portland House, 1997.
Library of Congress Civil War Section Web Site

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