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Nostalgia & History > Petersburg Weldon Railroad

Date: 07/31/09 08:19
Petersburg Weldon Railroad
Author: flynn

The Petersburg Weldon Railroad ran south from Petersburg, Virginia to Weldon, North Carolina and was also called the Weldon Railroad. It was along this railroad that the two battles for the Weldon Railroad were fought rather than along the Wilmington Weldon Railroad that I indicated in my previous posting.

I was originally attracted to the Wilmington Weldon Railroad because I found an 1854 map and an 1859 timetable of the railroad.

I could not readily find a map of the Petersburg Weldon Railroad so I attempted to make a map by combining part of the map of the state of Virginia and part of the map of North Carolina from the 1895 Atlas.


Picture 1 below is a combination of the 1895 maps of Virginia and North Carolina. You can find the Petersburg Weldon Railroad by finding first Petersburg and then going south across the Virginia North Carolina border to Weldon.

From the Wikipedia website for the Petersburg Railroad.


“Petersburg Railroad was chartered in 1830 and opened in 1833. It ran from Petersburg, Virginia south to Garysburg, North Carolina, from which it ran to Weldon via trackage rights over the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad (later eliminated with a new alignment). The railroad saw much action and destruction during the Siege of Petersburg at the end of the American Civil War. In March 1898, the Petersburg Railroad was merged into the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad, which was renamed to the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad of Virginia.”

The map in Picture 1 shows Garysburg, North Carolina. It appears from the map that there was double track from Garysburg to Weldon.

Picture 2 below, is an 1870 map from the Wikipedia webpage for the Norfolk Petersburg Railroad, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norfolk_and_Petersburg_Railroad . The map also shows the Petersburg Weldon Railroad. In this map the Petersburg Weldon Railroad appears to take a circle loop and enter Weldon. Perhaps this is the new alignment mentioned above.

The following item is from the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad Wikipedia webpage.

“By the time the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad was completed, the clouds of conflict which would become the American Civil War were already forming. In 1861, the railroad had 85.5 miles of track, 13 stations, 6 wood-burning steam locomotives, and 98 freight and passenger cars. Mahone was envisioning joining his 2 neighboring railroads to the west to create a through-line across the entire southern tier of Virginia to Bristol, Tennessee. However, the War interrupted that work.

After Virginia voted to cede on April 17, 1861, local officials began to establish control of federal property at Norfolk. However, the valuable shipyard was guarded by troops. While still a civilian, Mahone helped bluff the federal troops to abandon the Gosport Shipyard in Portsmouth by running a single passenger train into Norfolk with great noise and whistle-blowing, then much more quietly sending it back west, and then returning the same train again (again with much noise, etc.) creating the illusion in Portsmouth across the Elizabeth River just out of sight of large numbers of arriving Confederate troops. Combined with carefully placed misinformation to those manning the shipyard, the ruse worked, and not a single Confederate soldier was lost as the Union authorities quickly set fire to the yard and ships and abandoned the area, retreating to Fort Monroe across Hampton Roads.”

These smaller southern railroads were eventually rebuilt after the Civil War and combined into the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. The following Wikipedia web page has a 1914 map and an 1885 map. If you click on the map and after it loads again click on the map you will get a still larger map.


The importance of the Petersburg Weldon Railroad during the Civil War was that it supplied Petersburg from the south and together with the Richmond Petersburg Railroad supplied Richmond, the capital of the Confederate States.


“Richmond and Petersburg Railroad was a regional railroad serving east-central Virginia. It was strategically important to the Confederacy during the American Civil War, when it provided a vital supply and transportation route in late 1864 and early 1865 for Robert E. Lee's entrenched Army of Northern Virginia, which was protecting the Confederate capital of Richmond and Petersburg.”

During the Civil War two battles took place on the Petersburg Weldon Railroad.

“The Battle of Weldon Railroad (First) June 21-24, 1864”


An excerpt from the above webpage,

“This little known battle took place on a sultry Thursday afternoon 6 miles south of Petersburg, Virginia along the Petersburg & Weldon Railroad. It involved troops of the Vermont Brigade (the Second Brigade, Second Division) of the VI Army Corps of the Army of the Potomac, and is known as the First Battle of the Weldon Railroad, representing one of the early battles of the Jerusalem Plank Road. The Confederates referred to it as the Battle of the Gurley Farm. The Petersburg and Weldon Railroad brought supplies for Lee’s army from Weldon, North Carolina and the Deep South. Grant’s plan was to move two corps of his army south and west around the right flank of the Army of Northern Virginia defending Petersburg.

On June 21, the Union II Corps, supported by the VI Corps, attempted to cut the Weldon Railroad, one of the major supply lines into Petersburg. The movement was preceded by Wilson's cavalry division which began destroying tracks. This movement got underway with Winfield Scott Hancock’s II and Maj. Gen. Horatio G. Wright's VI Corps moving south down the Jerusalem Plank Road to the Williams House. The next day these two corps attempted to move west across the Petersburg & Weldon Railroad. The advance was bungled and Gen. William Mahone struck with his division of the Army of Northern Virginia in a well-time blow attacking between the 2 Union corps striking the left flank of the II Corps. The attack rolled-up 2 Union brigades and sent the II Corps reeling back to the Jerusalem Plank Road. The Confederates captured 1800 prisoners.”

“Globe Tavern August 18 – 21, 1864.” [Second Battle of Weldon Railroad]


An excerpt from the above webpage,

“While Hancock's command demonstrated north of the James River at Deep Bottom, the Union V Corps and elements of the IX and II Corps under command of Major General G.K. Warren were withdrawn from the Petersburg entrenchments to operate against the Weldon Railroad.

At dawn August 18, Warren advanced, driving back Confederate pickets until reaching the railroad at Globe Tavern. In the afternoon, Major General Henry Heth's division attacked driving Ayres's division back toward the tavern. Both sides entrenched during the night.

On August 19, Major General William Mahone, whose division had been hastily returned from north of James River, attacked with five infantry brigades, rolling up the right flank of Crawford's division. Heavily reinforced, Warren counterattacked and by nightfall had retaken most of the ground lost during the afternoon's fighting.

On the 20th, the Federals laid out and entrenched a strong defensive line covering the Blick House and Globe Tavern and extending east to connect with the main Federal lines at Jerusalem Plank Road.

On August 21, Hill probed the new Federal line for weaknesses but could not penetrate the Union defenses. With the fighting at Globe Tavern, Grant succeeded in extending his siege lines to the west and cutting Petersburg's primary rail connection with Wilmington, North Carolina.

The Confederates were now forced to off-load rail cars at Stony Creek Station for a 30-mile wagon haul up Boydton Plank Road to reach Petersburg.”

On the following website you can read about the loss of the Weldon Railroad, Chapter 27, “R. E. Lee, A Biography” by Southall Freeman.


You can read about the problems in the transport of the armor for the USS Merrimack - CSS Virginia on the Richmond and Petersburg and the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroads on pages 132 – 134 of the following website of Previews of the book “Ironclad Down, USS Merrimack – CSS Virginia from Construction to Destruction.”


On the webpage click on page 132. To move down the page place the cursor on the down arrow of the scroll bar and press on the left mouse button.

To read about army food during the Civil War click on the following website to preview the book, “Hardtack and Coffee,” by John B. Billings.


I did a Keyword search on Library of Congress website, http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pp/pphome.html , for Civil War Railroad Locomotives and got 30 results. Four of these results are below.

Picture 3 below, “Title: Engine, J.H. Devereux, Alexandria. Summary: Photograph shows the ornately decorated locomotive J.H. Devereux, of the United States Military Railroad with two crew members on board outside the roundhouse at the Alexandria station. Created: (between 1857 and 1865). Creator: Andrew J. Russell.”

Picture 4 below, “Title: Engine ‘E.M. Stanton,’ Alexandria, July 1864. Summary: Photograph shows the locomotive ‘E.M. Stanton,’ built in 1862 and named for the secretary of war, on a turntable at the Alexandria railroad station. Created: July 1864. Creator: Andrew J. Russell.”

Picture 5 below, “Title: Engine W. H. Whiton, and President's car, Alexandria, January,1865. Summary: Photograph shows a United States Military Railroad locomotive, W.H. Whiton, and the president's rail car, later used as Lincoln's funeral car. Created: January 1865. Creator: Andrew J. Russell.”

Picture 6 below, “Title: Engine ‘Gen. Haupt,’ Alexandria, 1863. Summary: SUMMARY: Photograph shows wood burning locomotive ‘Gen. Haupt, named for Herman Haupt, chief of Construction and Transportation, in front of the roundhouse at the Alexandria station. Created: 1863. Creator: Andrew J. Russell.”

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/31/09 08:22 by flynn.

Date: 07/31/09 08:25
Re: Petersburg Weldon Railroad
Author: flynn

Pictures 4, 5, and 6.

Date: 07/31/09 11:07
Re: Petersburg Weldon Railroad
Author: rbx551985

Much of the right-of-way is a paved highway now, roughly on a curving parallel to the current CSXT A-Line, beginning at North Collier Yard. This link---


---goes to a "moveable" [using your computer mouse] map of the area. Zoom in until you can see the road names, and go to a point one mile south of where I-85 passes over the CSX mainline. That is North Collier Yard (where the NS mainline passes beneath the CSX route - and is a well-known and patroned railfan train-watching spot). HALIFAX ROAD is the right-of-way, from just south of where the NS line passes beneath the CSX line, at North Collier Yard. The highway IS the actual former road-bed, and much of it is easily noticeable as a former railroad: cuts and fills are frequent - which would not have been made had this been constructed as a standard rural road.

The road-bed cuts back into the A-Line at a point just south of Carson, Va. - and one must drive on parallel Highway 301 or I-95 to continue south. Points of the road-bed south of there, specifically old bridge abutments in the trees - are visible beside Country Club Rd. just south of where an overhead I-95 bridge passes above the current A-Line. (That's at "FOX" - if you are looking at a CSX signal list - south of Jarratt, Va.)

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