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“Over time, Lee needed to draw more and more food and fodder for his army via railroad from the fertile Shenandoah Valley, which, remarkably, had managed to avoid the serious devastation. But the principal line, the Virginia Central Railroad, was in such serious need of repair by early 1863 that the superintendent informed Jefferson Davis its ‘efficiency is most seriously impaired.’ Despite a reduction of freight loads by 25 percent, the line still suffered four derailments in five days that winter due to faulty track, and this at an average speed of eight miles per hour. Repairs were impossible because laborers were unavailable. Many white workers were in the army, the superintendent complained, and black workers ran off with the Federal troops, as had nearly all the local slaves. Essentials like railroad ties, in ample supply before the war, were unobtainable, even at triple their prewar price, because there were no workers to chop down trees and make them. As a result, over the final two years of the war, Lee had to look toward the Carolinas and occasionally Georgia for more and more supplies, at greater expense to the Confederacy over railroads heavily burdened and suffering increasingly from disrepair. Nor was this problem unique to Lee’s army. Overused, inadequately maintained railroads burdened other Confederate commands as well—and the southern economy as a whole.”
— Why the Confederacy Lost, 1992