Battle of Mill Crek Gap on the Western & Atlantic Rail Road

Battle of Mill Creek Gap on the Western & Atlantic Rail Road

Built and owned by the State of Georgia, the Western & Atlantic Railroad was constructed between 1841-1850. Costing a staggering five million dollars for the time, the Western & Atlantic established itself as an integral link of multiple railroads which connected ports along the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River.

Given its isolation, the first locomotive for the train had to be literally carted in pieces, delivered piece-meal, and assembled on the tracks of the new railroad line.

Birds Eye Map of the Western & Atlantic Rail Road The Great Kennesaw Route Army Operations Atlanta Campaign 1864Service began four years after construction began, on December 23rd 1842. The inaugural run began at Atlanta [Marthasville], and terminated in Marietta.

At the inception of the Civil War, the Western & Atlantic Railroad had grown to a total of 46 wood burning locomotives. The railroad itself played an important role in the Confederacy, providing key transportation logistics and delivery of materiel for the war effort.

Its strategic loss during the Atlanta Campaign dealt a serious blow to the Confederacy, and by some historians’ accounts, was a key contributor to the eventual downfall of the South. As with much of the South’s key infrastructure, the railroad was heavily damaged during the war.

After the Civil War, the line was repaired and passed through the hands of several railroad conglomerates. Interestingly, during the life of this important railroad, the State of Georgia has continuously held title and simply leased it out.

Presently, CSX Transportation possesses a long-term lease for the line from the State of Georgia.

Longstreet's Soldiers Debarking from the Trains Below Rengold on the Western & Atlantic Rail Road

Longstreet’s Soldiers Debarking from the Trains Below Ringgold, September 13, 1861

Battle of Ringold Georgia on the Western & Atlantic Rail Road

Battle of Ringold, GA. On the line of the Western & Atlantic Railroad, November 17, 1863

Battle of Kennesaw Mountain

Battle of Kennesaw Mountain along the Western & Atlantic Rail Road

Buildings and Railyard of the Western & Atlantic Railroad - Atlanta George November 1864

Intact Buildings of the Western & Atlantic Rail Yard at Atlanta, November 1864. Only days thereafter, the rail yard was destroyed by Union Forces.

The Soldier's Grave along the tracks of the Western & Atlantic Rail Road, Map of Chattanooga along the Western & Atlantic Rail Road

The Soldier’s Grave on the Western & Atlantic Rail Road in Allatoona Pass.
A marble headstone was placed there, with the following chiseled:
“An Unknown Hero
He died for the cause
He thought he was right.”

Numismatic Specimens

Below are two Western & Atlantic Rail Road notes. The first specimen is a 25-cent note and is in VF-30 grade. The second, a 50-cent note, is in VF-20 grade.

25-cent note scrip June 2 1862 Western & Atlantic Rail Road

25-cent note scrip June 2 1862 Western & Atlantic Rail Road

25-cent note scrip June 2 1862 Western & Atlantic Rail Road

A 50-cent note scrip for the Western & Atlantic Rail Road, May 1862.

Aaron Packard [End Mark]

Notes and Sources

  1. Building the Western and Atlantic Railroad, About North Georgia, Golden Ink, ©1994
  2. Route of the Western and Atlantic Railroad, About North Georgia, Golden Ink, ©1994
  3. The Mountain Campaigns in Georgia / War Scenes on the W.&A., Joseph M. Brown, The Matthews-Northrup Co., 1895
  4. The Library of Congress Digital Archives

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The author has over 30 years experience in North American numismatics. He is the author of numerous articles about exonumia, including those about tokens, scrip, and the public who used them. He is a member of the ANA, VNA, ACC, C4, CWTS, TAMS, MD-TAMS, AVA, NSCA, and NumisSociety.

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