Part 1 – Part 2
This magnificent photograph of the George B. McClellan Memorial was taken and released into the public domain by famed local photographer Carol M. Highsmith. The memorial is located in a small public park on Connecticut Avenue NW, California Street * and Columbia Road in Washington, DC.
The bronze equestrian statue was sculpted by Frederick William MacMonnies and the memorial was dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907. It was placed in this location because Union troops encamped here during the Civil War. The statute is one of eighteen Civil War monuments in Washington, DC according to the National Park Service, which maintains the memorial.
Highsmith is donating her life’s work of more than 100,000 images, copyright-free, to the Library of Congress, which established a rare, one-person archive.
After McClellan left the army in had the advantage of being schooled in the military and upon leaving the service then achieved success in the rail road business, brought their understanding of the critical role rail roads could play in supplying and transporting troops to the business of war.
Thus, the American Civil War was the first war in history in which rail roads played a major role. Both sides used rail roads extensively, the Confederacy even pulling up under-used tracks in Florida and shipping them to Virginia to repair and expand the rail net supporting General Lee.
On several occasions reinforcements sent by rail provided the margin which turned the tide of several battles. Soldiers sent by rail could move very quickly for the era and often these troops disembarked directly from the boxcars and went straight into the fight. Sometimes they were shooting from the open doors of the boxcars before the trains even stopped.
Many of the general officers who had been railroad executives adjusted far better to the demands of commanding military units which often contained one hundred times the number of soldiers ever assembled in American military formations until that time. The only organizations in the United States which involved the “command and control” of thousands of employees were the railroads.
the statistics on the Horseshoe Curve are as follows:
Length of curve is 2375 feet
Degree of curvature 9 degrees, 25 minutes
Central Angle 220 degrees
Elevation at lower or east end 1594 feet
Elevation at the upper west end is 1716 feet
122 feet total elevation climb
The grade is 1.8% or 1.8 foot rise per 100 feet.
figures from the railroadcity the world-famous-horseshoe-curve website
Pennsylvania Railroad engine pulling a passenger train around the Horseshoe Curve circa 1960
Given both the complexity of its construction and the time which would have been required to rebuild it, had Horseshoe Curve been destroyed, it would have caused major delays and disorders in the entire rail net of the United States for months. German intelligence agencies in the Third Reich were well aware of the strategic importance of Horseshoe Curve.
Eight German saboteurs were landed in two different locations in the US between June 12 and June 16. Four at Amagansett on Long Island and four at Ponte Vedre Beach outside of Jacksonville. They weren’t actually found by the FBI as claimed for decades. The leader of the group, George John Dasch, turned them all into the FBI.
Not so secret military tribunal during trial of German saboteurs
(US Office of War Information)
Below is an excerpt from the transcript of the secret military tribunal which tried the men in July and August of 1942. It is now declassified. (Curiously, while the proceedings of the secret tribunal were secret, the fact that it was going on was not secret.)
Transcript of Proceedings before the Military Commission to Try Persons Charged with Offenses against the Law of War and the Articles of War, Washington D.C., July 8 to July 31, 1942
The 3,000 word transcript was transcribed and put online in 2004 by students from the University of Minnesota.
Editors. Joel Samaha, Sam Root, and Paul Sexton, eds.
Transcribers. Students, University of Minnesota,