Confederate Method of Destroying Rail Roads at McCloud Mill, Virginia
Andrew Joseph Russell (American, 1830–1902)
Formerly attributed to Mathew B. Brady (American, born Ireland, 1823?–1896 New York)
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Image: 16.2 × 19.6 cm (6 3/8 × 7 11/16 in.)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1933
Not on view
Russell made several photographs of the discovery by the Union army of the simple but effective method developed by the Confederates to destroy Union railroad track. Using the ties as fuel, the soldiers stacked the iron rails in X formations and burned them until they could be twisted and made unusable. Federal engineers employed similar tactics to destroy Southern railroads, and this photograph has been published, inaccurately, as “Sherman’s Neckties.” The title refers to Union General William Tecumseh Sherman, who during the Atlanta Campaign on July 18, 1864, gave the following explicit order to his corps: “Officers should be instructed that bars simply bent may be used again, but if when red hot they are twisted out of line they cannot be used again. Pile the ties into shape for a bonfire, put the rails across and when red hot in the middle, let a man at each end twist the bar so that its surface becomes spiral.”
Loyal Legion, Boston Chapter, Commandery of the State of Massachusetts
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Photography and the American Civil War," April 2, 2013–September 2, 2013.
Gibbes Museum of Art. "Photography and the American Civil War," September 27, 2013–January 5, 2014.
New Orleans Museum of Art. "Photography and the American Civil War," January 31, 2014–May 4, 2014.