Vital Rails: The Charleston & Savannah Railroad and the Civil War in Coastal South Carolina

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Univ of South Carolina Press, 2008 - History - 369 pages
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Spanning more than one hundred miles across rice fields, salt marshes, and seven rivers and creeks, the Charleston & Savannah Railroad was designed to revolutionize the economy of South Carolina's lowcountry by linking key port cities. This history of the railroad records the story of the C&S and of the men who managed it during wartime.

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Author: H. David Stone, Jr. is a physician in Florence, South Carolina. He is a graduate of Furman University and the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. Completed in 1860 and spanning ... Read full review

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This is an excellent book and a great contribution to preserving the railroading and Civil War history of South Carolina. However, it includes an error (which is only tangential to the whole story, by the way) in Chapter 18 related to the abandoned rail bed that runs through the Links golf course at Stono Ferry. The historic sign erected on the course and Dr. Stone's writing relative to that sign indicate that the railroad was the one associated with the book - The Charleston & Savannah. In fact, the rail bed at the Links was built by the Seaboard Air Line Railway (SAL) in 1917, not by C & S in the 1850s, to complete their coastal route from Hamlet, NC, to Charleston to Savannah. It was SAL's Carolina Division, Charleston Subdivision. When it was built, the C & S route, which runs parallel 1.5 miles to the northwest, was operated by the Atlantic Coastline Railroad (ACL), a direct competitor of SAL. The SAL line ran south through Lobeco, Coosaw, Pitchard and Levy and crossed Hutchinson Island into Savannah. Through service ended in 1971 when the lift bridge at Savannah was destroyed by a ship collision. All service ended in 1977 and all the tracks were removed by 1982. The route can easily be seen and traced using Google Earth. SAL was not the C & S. The sign and the book are incorrect and efforts are now underway to remedy the matter. However, this error does not detract from the value of Dr. Stone's work, which is highly recommended for anyone interested in both the Civil War and the history of railroading in the southern US. 


one Birth of a Railroad
two Construction Connection and the Convention
three A Confederate Railroad
seven The Business of War
eight Singletarys Inheritance
eleven Unrealized Gains
twelve Foster Tries Charleston
thirteen Under Siege
fourteen Honey Hill
fifteen Shermans Neckties
seventeen One More River to Cross

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