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R.R. Accident on Alexandria and [Orange] R.R. Caused By Rebels
A.J. Russell (American, 1830 - 1902)
Albumen silver print
23.5 x 32.5 cm (9 1/4 x 12 13/16 in.)
In August 1862, A. J. Russell carefully positioned his camera well below the level of his subject to best capture the magnitude of the destruction of this powerful train. The Charles Minot steam engine was thrown from the tracks as the result of an attack by the Confederate cavalry. During the American Civil War, one of the earliest wars to be extensively photographed, much of the Union Army's efforts was directed at rebuilding bridges and railroads destroyed by retreating Confederate forces. This experience working on railroad projects was a great aid to the nation in later years, when countless well-trained Civil War veterans worked on the construction of the first transcontinental railroad. Grenville Dodge, chief engineer of the Union Pacific Railroad and former General in the Union Army, remarked favorably upon the abilities of former soldiers who undertook backbreaking railroad work: "It was the war that taught them how to think big, how to organize grand projects, how to persevere."