Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie

By Andrew Carnegie | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
CIVIL WAR PERIOD

IN 1861 the Civil War broke out and I was at once summoned to Washington by Mr. Scott, who had been appointed Assistant Secretary of War in charge of the Transportation Department. I was to act as his assistant in charge of the military railroads and telegraphs of the Government and to organize a force of railway men. It was one of the most important departments of all at the beginning of the war.

The first regiments of Union troops passing through Baltimore had been attacked, and the railway line cut between Baltimore and Annapolis Junction, destroying communication with Washington. It was therefore necessary for me, with my corps of assistants, to take train at Philadelphia for Annapolis, a point from which a branch line extended to the Junction, joining the main line to Washington. Our first duty was to repair this branch and make it passable for heavy trains, a work of some days. General Butler and several regiments of troops arrived a few days after us, and we were able to transport his whole brigade to Washington.

I took my place upon the first engine which started for the Capital, and proceeded very cautiously. Some distance from Washington I noticed that the telegraph wires had been pinned to the ground by wooden stakes. I stopped the engine and ran forward to release them, but I did not notice that the wires had been pulled to one side before staking. When released, in their spring upwards, they struck me in the face, knocked me over,

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