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Civil War Railroads Talk to be Given at Harrisburg CWRT Oct. 26

USMRR Locomotive “J.H. Devereux” at Alexandria, Virginia, ca. 1863

For our Friday October 26th meeting, the Harrisburg Civil War Round Table is proud to have Dr. John E. Clark Jr. speaking to us on his book, “Railroads in the Civil War: the Impact of Management on Victory and Defeat“.

By the time of the Civil War, the railroads had advanced to allow the movement of large numbers of troops even though railways had not yet matured into a truly integrated transportation system. Gaps between lines, incompatible track gauges, and other vexing impediments remained in both the North and South. As Dr. Clark will explain, the skill with which Union war leaders met those problems and utilized the rail system to its fullest potential was an essential ingredient for ultimate victory.  Dr. Clark will focus on two case studies of troop movement: the Confederacy’s mismanagement of its railroads and by extension, its logistics, with the transfer of thirteen thousand men from the Army of Northern Virginia to the Army of Tennessee in the fall of 1863, and the Union’s corresponding shift of the Army of Potomac’s Eleventh and Twelfth Corps to the Army of the Cumberland to save Chattanooga.

Dr. Clark served as an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army Security Agency for three years, and then attended Dartmouth College, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history. He went on to earn a MBA from the Wharton School, and spent thirty years in business, owning his own insurance agency in Ridgewood, New Jersey for the last twenty years.

Reading the letters sent home from a local doctor in World War II China provided a life-transforming experience for Dr. Clark. The letters’ potential to become the basis of a book sent Dr. Clark to Princeton University for a midlife doctorate in History. He did not write his dissertation about the doctor. Princeton would have made him learn Mandarin Chinese, Asia was not his area of interest, and he wanted to work with Battle Cry of Freedom author, James McPherson.

The Harrisburg Civil War Round Table meets at the Radisson Penn Harris Hotel & Convention Center, Camp Hill, PA, Camp Hill Bypass @ Routes 11&15. An informal reception starts at 6:00 PM, followed by dinner at 6:45. The cost of dinner is $22.00 and reservations must be made no later than 9 PM Tuesday, October 23rd, by calling 717-561-0613 or email The program begins at 8:00 PM and is free to the public.

Contact Tom Kerstetter at  717-574-5797.