Herman Haupt

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Herman Haupt
Herman Haupt.jpg
Gen. Herman Haupt
Born(1817-03-26)March 26, 1817
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
DiedDecember 14, 1905(1905-12-14) (aged 88)
Jersey City, New Jersey
Place of burial
AllegianceUnited States of America
Union
Service/branchUnited States Army
Union Army
Years of service1835; 1862–1863
RankUnion Army brigadier general rank insignia.svg Brigadier General
Commands heldU.S. Military Railroads
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

Herman Haupt (Philadelphia, March 26, 1817 – Jersey City, December 14, 1905) was an American civil engineer and railroad construction engineer and executive. A Union Army General, he played a key role in the American Civil War, during which he revolutionized U.S. military transportation, particularly the use of railroads.[1]

Early and family life[edit]

Haupt (whose first name was sometimes spelled Hermann) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 26, 1817, the son of Jacob and Anna Margaretta Wiall Haupt. Jacob, a merchant, died when Herman was 12 years old, leaving Anna to support three sons and two daughters. Herman worked part-time to pay his school tuition, then in 1831 was appointed to the United States Military Academy at the age of 14 by President Andrew Jackson. He graduated in 1835 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Infantry that July.

On August 30, 1838, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he married Ann Cecelia (Celia) Keller, with whom he would have seven sons and four daughters. In the 1870 census, Louis, Herman, Charles, Frank and Alex were living at home with their parents in Philadelphia's Ward 10, as were their sisters Mary and Ella.[2]

Early Career[edit]

Haupt resigned his commission on September 30, 1835, to accept a job under Henry R Campbell as Assistant Engineer engaged in the surveys of the Allentown road and of the Norristown & Valley Railroad, which opened in 1835 and 15 years later merged into the Chester Valley railroad.[3]

At 19, he was appointed Assistant Engineer in the state service and located the line from Gettysburg to the Potomac across the South Mountain which is now a part of the Western Maryland.[4]

In 1839, Haupt designed and patented a novel bridge construction technique known as the Haupt Truss.[5] Two of his Haupt truss bridges still stand in Altoona and Ardmore, Pennsylvania, both from 1854.

From 1840 to 1847, Haupt was a professor of mathematics and engineering at Pennsylvania College. He drew the attention of J. Edgar Thomson who became chief engineer of the Pennsylvania Railroad.[6] Haupt returned to the railroad business in 1847, accepting a position as construction engineer on the Pennsylvania Railroad, and then becoming its general superintendent from 1849 to 1851. Haupt and Thomson designed the Horseshoe Curve (now a National Historic Landmark) which enabled the Pennsylvania Railroad to cross the Allegheny Mountains and reach Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

From 1851 until 1853, Haupt was the chief engineer of the Southern Railroad of Mississippi, then became the Pennsylvania Railroad's chief engineer until 1856; in the latter position he completed the Mountain Division with the Allegheny Tunnel, opening the line through to Pittsburgh. He was the chief engineer on the five-mile (8 km) Hoosac Tunnel project through the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts from 1856 to 1861.

Civil War[edit]

The locomotive, "General Haupt" is being used for work detail while its namesake, Herman Haupt, stands on the hill to the right inspecting railway work near Bull Run in 1863

In the spring of 1862, a year after the start of the Civil War, the U.S. War Department organized a new bureau responsible for constructing and operating military railroads in the United States. On April 27, Haupt was appointed chief of the bureau by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, as a colonel and aide-de-camp to major general Irvin McDowell, then in command of the defenses of Washington, D.C. Haupt repaired and fortified war-damaged railroad lines in the vicinity of Washington, armed and trained railroad staff, and improved telegraph communications along the railroad lines. Among his most challenging assignments was restoring the strategic Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad line, including the Potomac Creek Bridge, after its partial destruction by Confederate forces. Despite an inexperienced workforce and other serious impediments, Haupt had the line back in use in under two weeks. President Abraham Lincoln was impressed with Haupt's work there. In a visit on May 28, 1862, he observed: "That man Haupt has built a bridge four hundred feet long and one hundred feet high, across Potomac Creek, on which loaded trains are passing every hour, and upon my word, gentlemen, there is nothing in it but cornstalks and beanpoles."[1]

Military railroad bridge restored over Potomac Creek.

Haupt was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on September 5, 1862, but he officially refused the appointment, explaining that he would be happy to serve without official rank or pay, but he did not want to limit his freedom to work in private business (and he privately bridled at the protocols and discipline of Army service). He worked with Gen. Daniel McCallum, a fellow railroad man and later became good friends with John H. Devereux (the Superintendent of the United States Military Railroad at Alexandria, Virginia and later General Superintendent of the Cleveland & Pittsburgh Railroad). However, he chafed dealing with other Union army commanders. He also preferred civilian crews, including many of former slaves ("contraband negroes") to soldiers. His Construction Corps had 300 men divided into 10 man squads by June 1862, and was later enlarged to include bridge-builders, then construction of freight cars, barracks, wharves, warehouses, etc. and extended to Tennessee and accompanied Sherman's thrust through Georgia.[7] Haupt also experimented with bridge demolition using torpedoes (inserted in holes drilled in trusses) and also discussed in a November 1862 report various methods of destroying locomotives (firing a cannon ball through the boiler was irreparable; locomotives with fireboxes drained then fired could be repaired). He also tested a lightweight 2-clamp "rail-twister" for use in raids behind enemy lines.[8]

Offered promotion again in early autumn 1863, Haupt hinged his acceptance on three conditions: that a central Bureau of U.S. Military Railroads be established to inspect, direct, and receive reports concerning construction and operation of all military railroads; difficulties with commanding generals be avoided through consultation and cooperation within their departments; the chief of the bureau should be free to move wherever his personal presence was necessary or to attend to whatever public or private business required his attention.[9] The War Department declined to accept such terms. Haupt's appointment was eventually rescinded on September 5, 1863, and he left the service on September 14. During that year as a general, however, he made an enormous impact on the Union war effort. The Civil War was one of the first wars in which large-scale railroad transportation was used to move and supply armies rapidly over long distances. Haupt assisted the Union Army of Virginia and Army of the Potomac in the Northern Virginia Campaign, the Maryland Campaign, and was particularly effective in supporting the Gettysburg Campaign, conducted in an area he knew well from his youth. His hastily organized trains kept the Union Army well supplied, and he organized the returning trains to carry thousands of Union wounded to hospitals. After the Battle of Gettysburg, Haupt boarded one of his trains and arrived at the White House on July 6, 1863, becoming the first to inform President Lincoln that General Robert E. Lee's defeated Confederate army was not being pursued vigorously by Union Major General George G. Meade. During his service, Haupt developed and implemented "general principles of railroad supply operation" and "also detailed methods of construction and destruction of railroad equipment". His two main principles were that the military should never interfere with the efficient running of the railroad and that rolling stock should be emptied and returned promptly to enable their re-use as transport.[1][10]

Postbellum[edit]

After his war service, Haupt returned to railroad, bridge, pipeline, and tunnel construction. He worked with the Richmond and Danville Railroad then was the general manager of Piedmont Air-Line Railway (from Richmond, Virginia, to Atlanta, Georgia), 1872 to 1876; Tide Water Pipe Line Company, 1875- ; general manager of the transcontinental Northern Pacific Railroad, 1881 to 1885; president of the Dakota and Great Southern Railroad, 1885 to 1886.

Haupt became wealthy from investments in railroads, mining, and Pennsylvania real estate, but eventually lost most of his fortune, in part due to political complications involving the completion of the Hoosac Tunnel. He and his wife purchased a small resort hotel at Mountain Lake in Giles County, Virginia. He invented a drilling machine that won the highest prize of the Royal Polytechnic Society of Great Britain and was the first to prove the practicability of transporting oil in pipes.

Haupt also authored several papers and books: Hints on Bridge Building (1840), The General Theory of Bridge Construction (1851), Plan for the Improvement of the Ohio River (1855), Military Briges (1864) and Reminiscences (1901).[11][12]

Death and legacy[edit]

Haupt died of a heart attack at age 88 in Jersey City, New Jersey, stricken while traveling on the Pennsylvania Railroad in a Pullman car named "Irma" on a journey from New York to Philadelphia. He is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.[13] His son Lewis M. Haupt was a noted civil engineer and professor.

In popular media[edit]

Haupt is a character in the alternate history novels Gettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War and Grant Comes East by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen.

He also appears in the TV miniseries "The Blue and the Gray" by Walter Brooke.[14]

Selected works[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Wolmar, Christian (2010). Engines of War. London: Atlantic Books. pp. 42–43. ISBN 978 1 84887 172 4.
  2. ^ 1870 U.S. Federal census for District 28, Ward 10, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, family 119
  3. ^ Wilson, Wiliam Bender (1900). General Superintendents of the Pennsylvania Railroad Division, Pennsylvania Railroad Co (Google eBook). Philadelphia Penn: Kensington Press.
  4. ^ "Haupt Obituary". Railroad Gazette, Volume 39 (Google eBook). December 22, 1905. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  5. ^ In a letter to the U. S. Patent Office ("Specification of Letters Patent No. 1,445, dated December 27, 1839") Haupt explained his new construction method: "The construction of a lattice bridge without counterbraces, but consisting simply of braces inclined at any proposed angle and ties which are perpendicular to the lower chord, the chords being either straight or curved."
    Sourced from North Carolina article on Bunker Hill Covered Bridge
  6. ^ George B. Abdill, Civil War Railroads: A Pictorial Story of the War Between the States, 1861-1865, (Indiana University Press 1961) p. 10
  7. ^ Abdill pp.10-11, 53, 82
  8. ^ Abdill pp. 45, 56
  9. ^ National Archives, RG 108, Entry 22, M1635, Herman Haupt to Edwin M. Stanton, September 11, 1863; Herman Haupt to Henry W. Halleck, September 11, 1863
  10. ^ Wolmar, Christian (2010). Engines of War. London: Atlantic Books. p. 48. ISBN 978 1 84887 172 4.
  11. ^ Appleton's Cyclopedia vol 3, p. 116
  12. ^ Abdill p. 10
  13. ^ Herman Haupt, Find A Grave. Accessed August 29, 2007.
  14. ^ Hopkins, Jonathan. "The Blue and the Gray". IMDB.

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]