Summing up and vice versa, OR, things that make you go hmm..

dms dmschanoes at
Sun Jul 13 00:01:03 MDT 2003

Further note on railroads, Civil War, train orders and initials.

The first such order was transmitted by telegraph to a train on the Illinois
Central Railroad, during the US Civil War.

A young trainmaster on the  Illinois Central (trainmaster being the line
officer of the railroad, equivalent to lieutenant) wanted to expedite a
train carrying Union troops to reinforce the siege of Vicksburg.  He went
into the station agent's office, took the telegraph and transmitted a
message to  other stations on the division giving this train "right over"
all other trains, thus ordering the agents to hold other trains until the
Army train cleared, signing his message with his initials and the time of
transmission, and requiring the other stations to repeat the body of the
order back to him.

Prior to that, trains had precedence over other trains based exclusively on
the printed timetables, which designated schedules, direction, class of
train, and movement (pick up/set off, etc.).  Direction was superior to
class in determining precedence of movement for trains of the same class.

"Extra" trains when operated were the bastard/orphans of the railroad and
had to clear main line tracks for every other scheduled train.  During the
Civil War, the need for extra trains  exploded, and these extras had to
operate as needed and  with priority over other trains.

Now, with the advent of the train order, a new form of precedence was
established, and this was called "right," as in "has right over..."

Right is superior to both class and direction.

And right got the right  troops to Vicksburg.


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