Article from the Charleston Daily Courier describing wartime conditions while on "A Trip on a South Carolina Railroad", July 1862

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By the time of the Civil War, railroads had become a part of everyday life for citizens of South Carolina.  The war, however, turned daily life in the state upside down.  During the war, railroads continued operations as passenger and trade lines, but were also used to transport troops and munitions.  The ability to move a large number of people and supplies quickly changed warfare dramatically from previous conflicts.  It also made the railroad lines a valuable target of destruction.  The above accounts describe experiences riding on the wartime railroad.  The two authors describe their own encounters and observe the treatment of the soldiers with whom they were traveling.  According to these accounts, service along the rails significantly decreased as a result of the war.  The articles can help students to understand how the Civil War affected all aspects of life, even for those who were not fighting. 


“A Trip on the South Carolina Rail Road.”  Charleston Daily Courier.  28 July 1862.  Newspapers on Microfilm.  Published Materials Division.  South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina. 


A Trip on the South Carolina Rail Road.

Messrs. Editors: - As it is the duty of every good citizen to try and correct abuses in public conveyances, I will give you an account of a trip to Columbia in a night train.  We left at the usual hour, but when we got to the first wood station, about ten miles from town, there was not a stick of wood.  We had to stop for at least an hour for the hands to go into the woods and collect what they could.  We then proceeded for some distance and stopped for water, but there was none in the tack.   So, after an hour ‘s delay we managed to get enough to proceed with.  We then progressed as far as Branchville, and there heard the intelligence that there was neither water or wood between there and Columbia.  Our engineer had to detach his engine and run to the Edisto River for water.  This detained us about two hours, and we left Branchville after daylight and arrived in Columbia about eleven o’clock. Being all that time penned up in a crowded car, with no water to drink except in a barrel at the extreme end of the Conductor’s car.  There your found a barrel with a tin cup, but you have to stumble over a dozen sleeping negros to get water.  You have to walk through six or seven cars, and among them the hospital, with sick soldiers, who, poor fellows, could get no rest from constant passing through the cars.  Now, Messrs. Editors, does this look right – does it look proper on a road that the President boasts that he has paid his July dividend, has made his January dividend, and has a large surplus – should not our military authorities take hold of the road?


Editors Courier:-Will you allow me, through your columns, to make a suggestion to our people on the lines of the Rail roads, which might be of infinite service to our poor, suffering wounded soldiers on their way home?  And in order to do so I will relate, in a few words, what I saw some days since on a journey from Charleston to Aiken.  At Branchville we waited an hour for the train from Kingville, None I am certain would have objected waiting until night, if necessary, rather than let the sufferers miss connection.  The train came at last, with its load of human misery, Crowds of mutilated men landed, a rush was made for the seats – the well men of course getting the best.  The whistle blew and the cars moved off while three or four lame soldiers, on crutches, were still trying to get on, some friends pulled them on; while the cars were in motion!!  Well, all got in, I believe, and not a glass of water or fruit did I see offered to one of the poor fellows in that train!  The next place was Midway, a wounded man begged some men standing by to get him a glass of water.  A negro ran to a store for it, but returned without.  There was not a drop of water in Midway for the wounded soldier!!  At Lowry’s a crowd of thirsty soldiers made a rush to the well to drink or fill canteens.  A man, young and strong enough to be himself a soldier, was close by with a jug, filled with a muddy stuff he honored with by the name of cider, which he sold at five cents per glass.  A crowd gathered around him, but the money must be paid before the glass is filled.  Many handed him blls, more than he filled glasses; the whistle blew, the disappointed soldiers ran to the cars, and the man pocketed all the bills.  That man had no feeling of humanity or sympathy about him.  Wonder if he is not a Yankee in disguise.  At Graham’s, two negros had buckets of water which they gave to the men – here was charity in embrio.  Peaches were there but the cry was money! money!  At Blackville nothing was brought out.  At Williston fine peaches were offered at twenty-five cents per dozen, and two water melons at forty cents, and the cars moved off before the white seller could make change, he was therefore compelled to pocket fifty cents a mellon instead of forty.  What mattered it; it was only from a soldier, and soldiers are made to be gouged!  At White Pond nothing was offered.  At Johnson’s, formerly Polecat, to the honor of the place, be it said baskets of peaches, apples, and nectarines were freely handed round to poorer soldiers, while several beautiful ladies, beautiful in the eyes of God and man, were busy with pitchers and buckets of cool water, distributing to the grateful soldiers, who no doubt heaped blessings upon their heads.  I am told the same was done at Orangeburg.  Now, why could not this be done at every station?  We are everywere blessed with fine fruit and cool water, and any one along the road could spare a few minutes to distribute them.  A water melon, a fine ripe peach or apple, or luscious bunch of grapes are very grateful to the dusty weary traveler, wounded or maimed for life in defending us from the cruel invader.  Even a glass of water is acceptable to them, for that on the cars is not sufficient, and is seldom cool – Why could not also, a few biscuits be baked by those who can afford it, or a few chickens fried, eggs boiled or milk or buttermilk offered to them; often some would be thus nourished, who perhaps have not a cent to purchase a meal.  I not long since traveled with a poor sickly youth a mere boy, who was returning home, a distance of several hundred miles with fifty cents in his pocket!!  Fifty cents!  how far would that go among the vanpyres along the road?  for there are vanpyres and leeches on the country as well as in our stores or in our Cotton Factories!  Confusion to them all!

Correlating SC Social Studies Academic Standards:

Standard 3-1: The student will demonstrate an understanding of places and regions and the role of human systems in South Carolina.
Indicator 3-1.2 Interpret thematic maps of South Carolina places and regions that show how and where people live, work, and use land and transportation. (G, P, E)
Indicator 3-1.4 Explain the effects of human systems on the physical landscape of South Carolina over time, including the relationship of population distribution and patterns of migration to natural resources, climate, agriculture, and economic development. (G, E, H)
Standard 3-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the events that led to the Civil War, the course of the War and Reconstruction, and South Carolina’s role in these events.
Indicator 3-4.6 Explain how the Civil War affected South Carolina’s economy, including destruction of plantations, towns, factories, and transportation systems. (E, H)
Standard 3-5: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the major developments in South Carolina in the late nineteenth century and the twentieth century.
Indicator 3-5.1 Summarize developments in industry and technology in South Carolina in the late nineteenth century and the twentieth century, including the rise of the textile industry, the expansion of the railroad, and the growth of the towns. (H, G, E)
Indicator 3-5.2 Summarize the effects of the state and local laws that are commonly known as Jim Crow laws on African Americans in particular and on South Carolinians as a whole. (H, P, E, G)
Indicator 3-5.4 Explain the impact and the causes of emigration from South Carolina and internal migration from the rural areas to the cities, including unemployment, poor sanitation and transportation services, and the lack of electricity and other modern conveniences in rural locations. (H, E, G)
Standard 4-5: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the westward movement and its impact on the institution of slavery.
Indicator 4-5.2 Explain the motives for the exploration in the West and the push for westward expansion, including the concept of manifest destiny, economic opportunities in trade, and the availability of rich land. (G, E, H)
Standard 4-6: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the Civil War and its impact on America.
Indicator 4-6.1 Compare the industrial North and the agricultural South prior to the Civil War, including the specific nature of the economy of each region, the geographic characteristics and boundaries of each region, and the basic way of life in each region. (G, E, H)

Indicator 4-6.6 Explain the impact of the Civil War on the nation, including its effects on the physical environment and on the people—soldiers, women, African Americans, and the civilian population of the nation as a whole. (H, P, G, E)

Standard 5-1: The student will demonstrate an udnerstanding of Reconstruction and its impact on racial relations in the United States.
Indicator 5-1.5 Explain the purpose and motivations behind the rise of discriminatory laws and groups and their effect on the rights and opportunities of African Americans in different regions of the United States. (P, G, E, H)
Standard 5-2: The student will demonstrate an udnerstanding of the continued westward expansion of the United States.

Indicator 5-2.1 Explain how aspects of the natural environment - including the principal mountain ranges and rivers, terrain, vegetation, and climate of the region— affected travel to the West and thus the settlement of that region. (G, H)

Indicator 5-2.3 Summarize how railroads affected development of the West, including their ease and inexpensiveness for travelers and their impact on trade and the natural environment. (G, E, H)
Standard 5-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of major domestic and foreign developments that contributed to the United States' becoming a world power.
Indicator 5-3.3 Explain the effects of immigration and urbanization on the American economy during the Industrial Revolution, including the role of immigrants in the work force and the growth of cities, the shift from an agrarian to an industrial economy, and the rise of big business. (P, G, E, H)
Standard 5-6: The student will demonstrate an understanding of developments in the United States since the fall of the Soviet Union and its satellite states in 1992.
Indicator 5-6.2 Explain how humans change the physical environment of regions and the consequences of such changes, including use of natural resources and the expansion of transportation systems. (P, G, E)
Standard 8-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the American Civil War—its causes and effects and the major events that occurred during that time.
Indicator 8-3.1 Explain the importance of agriculture in antebellum South Carolina, including plantation life, slavery, and the impact of the cotton gin. (H, G, E)
Standard 8-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the impact of Reconstruction on the people and government of South Carolina.
Indicator 8-4.1 Explain the purposes of Reconstruction with attention to the economic, social, political, and geographic problems facing the South, including reconstruction of towns, factories, farms, and transportation systems; the effects of emancipation; racial tension; tension between social classes; and disagreement over voting rights. (H, G, P, E)
Standard 8-5: The student will demonstrate an understanding of major social, political, and economic developments that took place inthe United States during the second half of the nineteenth century.
Indicator 8-5.1 Summarize the political, economic, and social conditions in South Carolina following the end of Reconstruction, including the leadership of Wade Hampton and the so-called Bourbons or Redeemers, agricultural depression and struggling industrial development, the impact of the temperance and suffrage movements, the development of the 1895 constitution, and the evolution of race relations and Jim Crow laws. (H, P, E)
Indicator 8-5.4 Compare migration patterns within South Carolina and in the United States as a whole in the late nineteenth century, including the population shift from rural to urban areas, migration between regions of the United States, the westward expansion, and the motivations for migration and settlement. (H, G, E)
Indicator 8-5.5 Summarize the human, agricultural, and economic costs of natural disasters and wars that occurred in South Carolina or involved South Carolinians in the late nineteenth century, including the Charleston earthquake of 1886, the hurricane of 1893, and the Spanish American War. (H, G, E)
Standard USHC-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the westward movement and the resulting regional conflicts that took place in America in the nienteenth century.
Indicator USHC-3.1 Explain the impact and challenges of westward movement, including the major land acquisitions, people’s motivations for moving west, railroad construction, the displacement of Native Americans, and the its impact on   the developing American character. (H, G, E)
Indicator USHC-3.3 Compare economic development in different regions of the country during the early nineteenth century, including agriculture in the South, industry and finance in the North, and the development of new resources in the West. (E, H, G)
Standard USHC-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the causes and the course of the Civil War and Reconstruction in America.
Indicator USHC-4.5 Summarize the progress made by African Americans during Reconstruction and the subsequent reversals brought by Reconstruction’s end, including the creation of the Freedmen’s Bureau, gains in educational and political opportunity, and the rise of anti–African American factions and legislation. (H, E, G, P)
Standard USHC-5: The student will demonstrate an understanding of major social, political, and economic developments that took place in the United States during the second half of the ninnteenth century.
Indicator USHC-5.5 Explain the causes and effects of urbanization in late nineteenth-century America, including the movement from farm to city, the continuation of the women’s suffrage movement, and the migration of African Americans to the North and the Midwest. (H, G, E, P)

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