Lincoln's Railroad Man: Herman Haupt (review)
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book reviews357 sometimes bog down in curriculum minutiae and alumni accomplishments , but on the whole this is a penetrating study of a fairly typical private southern college. Wayne Flynt Samford University Lincoln's Railroad Man: Herman Haupt. By Francis A. Lord. (Rutherford , N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1969. Pp. 325. $10.00.) This reviewer believes that many studies of the military history of the Civil War would be enhanced in value if their authors paid more attention to the place of die Civil War in the general evolution of the military art. Too often the Civil War is studied in isolation from die larger context of müitary history. The publicity release issued by die publisher and various statements early in the book about die importance of Herman Haupt's contributions to subsequent military railroading raise hopes that here we have a work which will do what it ought to do to set Civil War military history into context. Unfortunately, it does not. Instead, we have a workmanlike, conscientiously researched, but routine study of the period of Haupt's military service, reviewing his activities as they are recorded in die Official Records, Congressional documents, and Haupt Papers in the Library of Congress and—with a minimum number of citations—the National Archives, but not telling us much that students of the Civil War did not know before. Mr. Lord repeatedly asserts that Haupt was an innovator whose contributions shaped the whole course of military railroading, but he gives us little except his assertions to rely on. Haupt recognized that military trains ought to run under strict control which would co-ordinate them with the movements of the armies they served, and especially tiiat their cars ought to be unloaded promptly to go on to other service and to avoid clogging up depots; but others involved in die Union army's logistics soon recognized diese elementary points for tiiemselves, certainly including Quartermaster General M. C. Meigs. The difficulty was not so much in perceiving the principles as in applying them in a command system which left logistical responsibilities vague and tangled. (As Lord rightly reminds us, the Quartermaster's Department was too decentralized for Meigs to have reliable control over depot quartermasters' railroad policy.) Lord also emphasizes Haupt's contribution in developing a railroad construction corps; here Haupt was more clearly a pioneer, but Lord seems to claim too much, in view of Haupt's stubborn insistence that the personnel of a military railroad construction corps should be civilians, not soldiers. Fuller consideration tiian Lord gives to the technology of bridgebuüding would be necessary to a convincing evaluation of Haupt's achievements in that area. Herman Haupt was a thoroughly able railroad manager—Lord's book 358CIVIL WAR HISTORY and earlier works on Civil War railroads make that much apparent enough—but he suffered from flaws of personality and character which have to tlirow doubt on Lord's implication that he could have exercised higher military responsibility with success. Haupt scattered criticism of Union generalship promiscuously about him, but he diligently avoided any opportunity to test his constant suggestions that he was a better strategist and tactician than the men under whom he served. He also was clearly jealous of Daniel C. MeCallum's place in Union railroad management—a feeling which was reciprocated—but he replied to opportunities to rise above McCallum by insisting that he would have to remain free to return to Massachusetts to deal with the Hoosac Tunnel controversy whenever the need arose. Even within his more limited sphere as director of military railroads for the Department of the Rappahannock and eventually in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania , he never formally accepted his brigadier general's commission lest he be impeded in going back to Massachusetts for his private business affairs when he wished. Thus, Haupt had strange ideas of the division between military and private responsibility. Despite his natural sympadiy for his protagonist, Lord throws more light on this aspect of the man than have previously published works. The book is not a conventional biography. It deals almost wholly with the period from April, 1862 to Haupt's departure from military service in September, 1863...