Talk:Jackson's operations against the B&O Railroad (1861)

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Search for Consensus -- Elimination of Section “ List of historians believing the locomotive raid true”[edit]

This long section and equally long chart has all been created to serve as a rebuttal to the arguments made by Robertson and others. Unfortunately, this is all simply a rehash of the entire body of the article -- making the entire section repetitious and redundant. Ghost has thrown in his own analysis and evaluation (SYNTHESIS and ORIGINAL RESEARCH) of the sources to bolster his argument. While Robertson’s argument covers ONLY events that occurred before May 24, most of the material in Ghost’s rebuttal occurs weeks or months after this date.

The article should present the main argument in the body of the article, followed by Robertson. This long section added serves no encyclopedic purpose and should be deleted. Comments on whether you SUPPORT or OPPOSE this deletion are requested. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 11:58, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

Support -- Certainly any negative critique in a book review or elsewhere of Robertson's view by a reliable, secondary source should be included. However in the decade+ since the book was published it appears that his conclusion on the alleged raid has not been directly challenged. The section in question now is simply an often off-point rehash of the first part of this article with no source directly and specifically addressing Robertson. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 11:58, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Support -- The chart is out of place in an article since it was derived from original research. Recommend moving the chart to this talk page for posterity (in a collapsible table set to "collapse") which would allow it to be referenced in the future if the need arises without digging for diffs. It should be labeled clearly as a derived work in contention and not let the reader think it is status quo.
⋙–Berean–Hunter—► ((⊕)) 16:06, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Support -- The article needs to be pruned of all original research. I agree that, given the prominence of Robertson and his book, which is arguably the definitive 20th century biography of Jackson, at least one secondary source should have published post-1997 to dispute a controversial assertion such as this. There are 5 or 6 widely circulated monthly magazines about the ACW, and numerous scholarly journals, giving ample opportunities for professional historians to dispute Bud if he's off base. Hal Jespersen (talk) 17:01, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Support All the original research should go forthwith. Next, the article needs to be neutralised: which includes removing images whose sole purpose appears to be to bolster one side of the argument. Next, the sources need cleaning up – in particular, the Candenquist Tour Guide stuff (which is not published by a reliable source) – and page numbers added to all acceptable stuff. --ROGER DAVIES talk 18:09, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
PS: I'll archive most of this page later today. It serves no purpose now other than to daunt other interested editors. --ROGER DAVIES talk 18:09, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Sorry to barge in here, but Support. There's no point in having the table, it just creates drama and serves no good purpose in the article. Best to remove OR stuff. Skinny87 (talk) 07:16, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
Support The biggest issue I see here is that because Grayghost01 believes his position has more merit, he chooses to ignore his utter isolation in holding his positions. All herky-jerky energy aside, the user seems to forget that wikipedia resolves disputes through the use of page consensus. I assert that the user has wasted way too much project energy in this matter. User seems to make every disagreement a personal dispute, and seems to often reply by "flooding the zone", that is, utilizing his seemingly unlimited energy to expand every argument past reason. Lastly, in the long history of his contribs in wikipedia, user has announced on his user page and through his actions that he is not only an American partisan, but a Confederate partisan; he has exactly no standing to complain about other who have opposing or neutral POVs. All these are simply inappropriate social behaviors in this wikipedia context. I'm ready to take this user up the chain of dispute resolution, perhaps to arbitration. Lately, this user has become a hazard to the project, and that's truly unfortunate, given the user's ability and motivation. BusterD (talk) 14:25, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
I should add that the pagespace itself has blossomed under this heated dispute. I love a lively, well-informed discussion, and value disagreement in the service of a higher purpose. This discussion is just getting unproductive, and I thought I should say how I was seeing it. BusterD (talk) 15:08, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

Gents, before we continue the rash knee-jerk article quashing, may I remind you all that I said this will take several weeks to go through all the sources, and edit in all the appropriate quotations with cited references. I have only smooth edited up to about the May 25th point, and have only gone through with about 3 or 4 of the primary sources. If you all cannot be patient enough to wait that short amount of time, especially in this holiday month of November, then I question your motivations, and I don't care how many "support" anything. I have answered every question NorthShoreman has put out, and given him references, as well as the master list. In Mr. Northshoreman's utter un-wiki-like impatience, I come through to address the Weber comments that he implanted (not me) and counter-address them with what Johnston, the primary authority on Virginia Railroad History in the Civil War has said. That's just one source. The instant reaction to "call" for a bunch of support to try and wipe out my reference table that I'm working too, and to put a bunch more silly "synthesis" tags" on the section with Johnston, Stover and Weber.

When the section merely had Northshoremans discussion of Weber, no "tag". I add Johnston and Stover's counter-information, and BAM out plops a "synthesis" tag.

At this point I accuse Northshorman of being intentionally and flagrantly difficult. Furthermore, I ask that you all WAIT UNTIL WE CAN GET ALL THE MATERIAL ENTERED IN TO THE ARTICLE, cite it, and proof read it ... and then, as I have said several times, everyone is invited to come review it at that point. Thank you. Grayghost01 (talk) 04:47, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

  • Please remember that policy requires you to assume good faith and to refrain from making ad hominem attacks. I intend inviting an uninvolved admin to monitor this discussion.
  • Against policy, much of this article is an argument based on your interpretation of primary sources. Policy requires that the source cited must clearly support the information as it is presented in the article.
  • Against policy, this article promotes a particular agenda. Policy requires that articles report dispassionately.
  • The observations in the table section are entirely interpretive and not based on reliable sources. Spending more time on it will in all likelihood make the problem worse not better. The time has come to remove it.
  • I now invite you to work cooperatively with others to help turn this into an article that meets Wikipedian norms.
--ROGER DAVIES talk 05:51, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Update: I've removed the section from the main article to here and transcluded it below:

Removed section

List of historians believing the locomotive raid true


The quantity and amount of sources supporting the historicity of the raid is quite large. This section summarizes the variety of sources backing the historicity of the raid. No one source has attempted to synthesize all the accounts in one publication.

Overview of sources

In addition to the historians Hungerford, Weber, Johnson, Tate, Davis and Dowdy, there are other historians who clearly relate many additional facets and details of the May/June 1861 activities against the B&O Railroad such as: Robert Black, Gary Browne, Jedediah Hotchkiss, Edward Burns, Arthur Candenquist, Clement Evans, and John Stover who all also give historical credence to this whole affair [1][2][3][4][5][6], and this is fairly well corroborated[7][8][9][10][11][12] by many primary sources such as diaries, news articles illustrations in Harper's Weekly at the time of the bridges being destroyed, box cars and a locomotive dumped in the river, and a railyard full of locomotives being dismantled at Martinsburg.

The records of the B&O Railroad in their annual report of 1861 from John W. Garrett, President of the B&O Railroad, go into details about the raid that John Imboden was not aware of, and very closely match the dates of railroad closure and quantities of items taken. The detailed annual report was issued during the war, some 36 years before Imboden relayed his rather small and general story.

Perhaps the most enlightening source contradicting Robertson's "totally fiction" assement is the personal story of Mr. J. E. Duke, the enlisted quartermaster assistant to Captain Thomas Sharp. Duke's story was published in 1898, the same year Henderson's biography of Jackson was published. Duke's story picks up where the "railroad corps", as he calls it, began the arduous job of trying to dismantle all the captured bounty and get it moved onto southern railways for Confederate service.

Finally, four other eyewitness accounts are listed for this article, William Prescott Smith (B&O Chief of Transportation), Julia Chase (pro-Unionist diarist in Winchester), Charles Keefer (assistant wagoneer for the raid) and Joseph Crawn (resident on the Valley Pike at Mount Crawford, Virginia).

Details beyond Imboden's account

For instance, a 1933 interview of Joseph Crawn, per Candenquist, is an example documenting the sighting by Valley citizens of the rolling stock being moved to Staunton, Virginia which Imboden did not mention. Elsewhere John Garrett, in Stover, gave detailed accounts in the B&O report of the summaries of destruction that Imboden did not know. As yet another example, Browne notes the specific types of locomotives taken as being a Hayes Camel, a Mason, and Dutch Wagon engines, yet more details Imboden did not give. Browne is also an example of aftermath details, like Garrett hiring Captain Sharp when his Chief of Transportation, William Prescott Smith, died in 1872. Even Weber, who is accused by Robertson of merely passing on the first-hand accounts of Imboden adds that 42 locomotives and 386 railcars were the specific quantities of rolling stock destroyed. Yet in Imbodens account he maintains that "I do not remember the number of trains captured, but the loss crippled the Baltimore and Ohio road seriously for some time ..." John Garrett, one of the primary sources that the operation/affair begain in May of 1861, provides that time frame when he notes that by the 28th of May "general possession" had now been taken of up to "one hundred miles of the Main Stem" and that the line was not reopened until March 29, 1862. Yet Imboden did not mention the timeframe, and is not the source for that information, further demonstrating that various historians are getting their information from sources other than Imboden. This May timeframe for the start of activities has been the position in documentation on the B&O Railroad ever since, and corroborates Colonel Henderson's view that the affair was in play by at least May 24, 1861. Finally Shriver's article of the story of J.E. Duke, assistant to Captain Sharp, doesn't even bother or attempt to explain how, why or when all the locomotives came to be in Martinsburg, but rather focuses on the amazing feats involved in moving what he claims were a total of 19, rather than 14 locomotives by total count, and leaving one behing sitting on the Winchester-Martinsburg turnpike for the entire duration of the war. One key thing though that Mr. Duke does state is that the real brains behind the entire operation, and the real credit deserved is with Captain Sharp. He says "It is generally conceded that the idea of taking the Baltimore and Ohio stock originated with ... Thomas R. Sharp."[13]

Current sources maintaining historicity

CSX Corporation, Inc., the current owner of the railroad also confirms the May 1861 raid in their own history published online at their http://www.csx.com website.

Additionally controversy was added when, two years after Robertson published his book in 1997, artist Mort Kunstler began a three-painting series on the supposedly non-existent raid with his paintings Iron Horses, Men of Steel painted in 1999 depicting the forty-horse carriage and dolly teams conscripted for the "arduous movement" which began through Winchester in June of 1861 and Jackson Commandeers the Railroad which depicts the disassembling of locomotives occuring in Martinsburg, also in June of 1861.[14]

Government backing of historicity

The U.S. Governments National Park Service, too, has determined that a raid took place noting

"With the onset of the Civil War, the B&O (and consequently Martinsburg) became a strategic target, as the railroad traversed the east-west boundary between the North and South. The original Martinsburg railroad shops, roundhouse and depot were destroyed by Confederate troops under the control of Stonewall Jackson in mid-1861. During the famous raid, Jackson's troops commandeered over a dozen B&O locomotives, outfitted them with 'road wheels' and, using horses, towed them over the dirt roads into Virginia for use on the South's railroads."

— National Historic Landmark registration form[15]

Thomas Sharp, unknown by Imboden

The key figure in the raid, Capt Thomas Sharp,[16][17], was later so greatly admired by John Garrett of the B&O Railroad (see quotation in the previous section), who spoke with personal knowledge of the raid, that Capt Sharp was hired as the chief engineer for the railroad, and served in that capacity for many years after the war. Robertson's opinion that Jackson's actions were acts of war on commerce before the war started fail to understand and account for the fact that Virginia seceded by popular vote on May 23, 1861, which was the key trigger for the initial operation and complete severing of the B&O Railroad.[18]

Summarization and synthesize of 34 corroborating sources to date

An overview of all the sources easily confirms that the rather vague account given by Imboden is by no means the only source of information, who was not even able to provide information on how many rolling stock were taken, when the raid occurred, what the destination of the bounty was, or who the main agent, Captain Thomas Sharp, was. This table provides a brief summary of the pieces of the whole affair which ran from late May of 1861 and did not complete until as late as August of 1863, when the last of the eyewitness accounts reports the last and final movements of rolling stock that had been hidden in barns and other locations throughout the Shenandoah Valley for more than two years.[19] Thirty four known historians and sources, with some writings dating to within 37 years of the events (Henderson), corroborate each other and confirm the records of the B&O Railroad, CSX Corporation, Inc. and wartime correspondance of Harper's Weekly and various other newspapers at the time. The compilation of the centennial history of the B&O Railroad by Edward Hungerford is particularly damaging to Robertson's theory that Imboden is the primary source of inventing the raid, as the B&O Railroad maintained meticulous details and accounts of every engine locomotive by number, accounted for exact numbers of rails taken by the Confederates, and filed extensive, detailed and enumerated claims to the U.S. Government starting in March of 1862 for claims against actions and theft of any assets by both the U.S. and Confederate forces.

34 Historians and Sources Considering the Great Train Raid of 1861 as True
Source Title/Info Nearness
to event
Summary
1-William
Baine
Papers of
William
Prescott
B&O in the Civil War, from the papers of William Prescott Smith 1860's
(0 yrs)
Witness to events shutting down B&O in May of 1861; Cited by U.S. Government NPS
2-Julia
Chase
Wartime Diary of Miss Julia Chase, Winchester, VA 1861-1864 1860's
(0 yrs)
Eyewitness twice to locomotive engines moving through Winchester, and destruction of Martinsburg bridge; Multiple book references; was either imagining things because raid was "totally fiction", or was in her right mind and saw locomotives pass down the street twice
3- John
Imboden
Battles & Leaders of the Civil War 1887
(26 yrs)
Eyewitness to events, gives no dates and no details on what railroad items were taken, but rather focuses on mostly on the initial events of the Martinsburg entrapment; Cited by a few historians; relatively minor contributor to body of knowledge about the raid, but enigmatically the primary focus of Robertson's criticism
4-Ernest
Shriver
Stealing Railroad Engines, section from Tales from McClure's: War - Being True Stories of Camp and Battlefield 1898
(37 yrs)
Gives the eyewitness account of Mr. J. E. Duke, enlisted quartermaster assistant to Captain T. R. Sharp, and member of the Great Train Raid "Railroad Corps" of Stonewall Jackson; Complete independent corroboration of raid, completely undermines Robertson's view that raid was "totally fiction"
5-G.F.R.
Henderson
Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War 1898
(37 yrs)
Dates start of affair before May 24, 1861; Adds commentary, and adds wrap up activities on June 20, 1861
6- Jedediah
Hotchkiss

Ed. 7- Clement
Evans
Confederate Military History, Vol. III 1899
(38 yrs)
Adds summary of final removals in June 1861; Fills out remaining events in Martinsburg
8-Edward
Hungerford
The Story of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad 1827-1927 1928
(67 yrs)
Lists the 14 locomotives taken by engine #, records 2 June destruction of bridge on Opequon Creek, validates B&O history of May actions, many details from B&O view; Most information above & beyond Imboden's account
9-Robert
Black
The Railroads of the Confederacy 1952
(91 yrs)
Adds removal to Strasburg; First mention of Capt Thomas Sharp
10-George
Turner
Victory Rode the Rails: The Strategic Place of the Railroads in the Civil War 1953
(92 yrs)
To be supplied
11-Angus
Johnston
Virginia Railroads in the Civil War 1959
(98 yrs)
Notes initial seizure of B&O on April 18, Lee's intentions to not interfere travel on April 30, notes communications with Garrett, timetable installed, and gives "eve of Virginia's ratification of her secession ordinance", the evening of May 22, as the date of stopping all traffic at Point of Rocks and beyond Martinsburg"
12-Edward
Burns
Confederates Gather Steam 1961
(100 yrs)
To be supplied; To be supplied
13-George
Abdill
Civil War Railroad: A Pictorial Story of the War Between the States, 1861-1865 1961
(100 yrs)
To be supplied
14-John
Barringer
Railroads in the Civil War NRHS Bulletin 1966
(105 yrs)
To be supplied
15-Clifford
Dowdey
The Land They Fought for 1973
(112 yrs)
To be supplied
16-Garland
Quarles
Occupied Winchester 1861-1865 1976
(115 yrs)
Locomotives moved through Winchester, says much is "written of the movement of railroad engines" in the Shenandoah Valley, W&PRR was torn up to hopefully install between Winchester and Strasburg
17-John
Stover
History of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad 1987
(126 yrs)
Summarizes B&O point of view, May date for start of actions; Count of locomotive, cars, and imposed timetable
18-Arthur
Candenquist
The Great Train Robbery 1991
(130 yrs)
To be supplied
19- Allen
Tate
Stonewall Jackson: The Good Soldier 1991
(130 yrs)
To be supplied
20-Jeffrey
Lash
Destroyer of the Iron Horse: General Joseph E. Johnston and Confederate Rail Transport 1992
(131 yrs)
To be supplied
21-Festus
Summers
Baltimore and Ohio in the Civil War 1993
(132 yrs)
Confirms B&O history, John Garrett's account; Most information independent of Imboden's account
22-Thomas
Weber
The Northern Railroads in the Civil War, 1861-1865 1999
(138 yrs)
Reports similar shutdown of B&O, references Harpers bridge outage 14 June, adds 42 locomotives were destroyed, 386 cars gone; Count of locomotives, cars, permanent shutdown to Wheeling
23-Mort
Kunstler
Iron Horses, Men of Steel
Jackson Commandeers the Railroad
1999
(138 yrs)
Adds Strasburg's news reports of raid, May date; Popularizes locomotives moving in Winchester, and later disassembly in Martinsburg
24-Gary
Browne
Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History 2000
(139 yrs)
Confirms Captain Sharp is key organizer, favorite of Garrett; Confirms B&O Railroad views
25-Arthur
Delagrange
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad 2000
(139 yrs)
Confirms B&O Railroad views; Confirms, again, Point of Rocks and "trapping" of trains, confirms noon-time bottlenecking
26-Kirk
Reynolds
Dave
Oroszi
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad 2000
(139 yrs)
Confirm B&O Railroad views; Confirm June data for Harpers bridge and permanent severance of line
27-Burke
Davis
They Called Him Stonewall 2000
(139 yrs)
To be supplied
28-Michael
Mahon
Winchester Divided: The Civil War Diaries of Julia Chase & Laura Lee 2002
(141 yrs)
Notes eyewitness diary entries on locomotives being taken from Martinsburg, Virginia and dragged by horses through Winchester, Virginia in September 1861
29-United States
National
Park
Service
National Historic Landmark Registration 2003
(142 yrs)
approximate count of locomotives, mid-1861 dates, use of carts and roads; No conflicts with other sources
30-John
Clark
Railroads in the Civil War: The Impact of Management on Victory and Defeat 2004
(143 yrs)
count of locomotives, damage, dates raid at start of war; No conflicts with other sources
31-Arthur
Candenquist
The Great Train Robbery - or - Confederates Gather Steam 2008
(147 yrs)
Adds details from diary of Captain Sharp, diaries of Shenandoah Valley eyewitnesses; Confirms May date of activity start, 2 June for Opequon bridge outage, 56 locomotives, 80 cars up the pike by 25 July 1861 per Captain Sharp
32-CSX
Corporation
B&O History Timeline Current Have maintained B&O history and confirmation; Keeps the B&O historical date of May 1861 for start of affair
33-Virginia Civil
War Trails
http://www.civilwartrails.org Current Confirm 13 of 14 locomotive were returned per B&O record keeping, and Point of Rocks actions started the operation in May of 1861, count of 56 locomotives, 300+ railcars; Confirms some locomotives put on Manassas Gap Railroad
34-Strasburg
Museum
The Strasburg Museum Current Donates the name of affair used in this article; Confirms the early locomotives first put on Manasssas Gap Railroad

--ROGER DAVIES talk 08:12, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Dealing with the tags[edit]

It is the Northshorman's tactic to merely stick fact-tags on every sentence, and synthesis tags on every section. I have repeatedly stated that we can go through this line by line, and if you want that level of detail, give me a few weeks, I'll put it all in, and then everyone can come review it. But Mr. Northshoreman keeps distracting my efforts by listing dozens of comments, which I respond to and address, all taking time, and saturating the articles with the tags.

My recommendation is that we take a break from this insane "tag" cycle (which I believe to be intentionally done) and allow me some time to finish the last 1/2 of the article to the next level of detail.

Can this be done? Otherwise, the next silly tag is for wanting to know what sources that Johnston used. Is this really freaking necessary? Since when is this ever required to be written out and explained in any article here? Johnston has a forward discussing name by name all the people that helped him research at the Bureau of Railway Economics, the Southern Railway System, the N&W Railway Company, C&O Railway Company, the War Records branch, National Archives, the Virgina State Library, the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, the Confederate Museum, UVA's Alderman Library, Washington and Lee History Department, the National Park Service, the Abraham Lincoln Bookstore of Chicago, the Deering Library at Northwestern Univ., and then his Bibliography on page 313 is divided into a prose section of five pages, and then is divided into three major sections with 12 subsections of types of sources. A review of Weber shows that he did not have as nearly an extensive review of sources on Virginia's railroads.

Nonetheless, I am addressing Northshoremens untterly unreasonable requests, and am pointing out that he is merely too lazy to get down to the library and check out and read the references to the article. There is no need for this amount of citation for this article.

Grayghost01 (talk) 05:39, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Much of this is a personal attack, which is not only disruptive but prohibited by policy. Please be civil and assume good faith as otherwise you may well find yourself blocked. --ROGER DAVIES talk 05:59, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
It would be good to go easy on this rhetoric. YellowMonkey (click here to choose Australia's next top model) 06:24, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
I have restored tags of SYNTHESIS and ORIGINAL RESEARCH to this section:
B&O main stem remains closed May 25 onward
"To make sure the trains stayed trapped and to prevent Union armies under George B. McClellan and Robert Patterson from using the road, the Confederates [still officially Virginia Militia] began destroying bridges and track on May 25."[54] The main stem of the B&O which ran mostly in or near Virgina was severed and cut off from the rest of the line by blasting a "massive rock formation onto the track at Point of Rocks"[55], and the Virginia Militia began a bridge destruction melee, taking down seventeen bridges over the next thirty day period[56]. Federal forces moved in and began to threaten the Virginia Militia operations "in early June", but it was too late since "earlier" than they had arrived "other important bridges west of Harpers Ferry had been put to the torch" in this period from the final week of May to early June.[57]
The paragraph does contain four sentences, each of which is supported by a footnote. The problem is that none of the sentences support the claim made in the title that the RR closed on May 25 and remained closed. The very next section (B&O President acknowledges the loss by 28 May) shows that, in fact, there is considerable doubt as to when the RR shut down. If there is, in fact, a source that says the RR was closed as of May 25, then it should be presented and quoted and placed in the following section along with the other sources. There does not seem to be any reason for maintaining these two separate sections. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 12:44, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
I had previously added a half dozen or so FACT tags to the section B&O President acknowledges the loss by 28 May. The problem is that Ghost has added his own opinions and arguments on the evaluation of competing sources. The sources are, in fact, contradictory. Our job as editor is to present what the reliable sources say and let the reader decide how to evaluate the sources. If, in fact, reliable sources specifically address the contradictions, then that information can be included.
One of the sentences tagged was “Historian Dr. Angus James Johnston, II (1961), the authority on Virginia railroads in the Civil War, is the leading historian of all rails and rail operations for any roads that physically lay within the states bounds.” Ghost deleted the tag by adding a long footnote that simply repeats Johnston’s credentials. What would support the claim that Johnston is the “leading historian” would be a reliable secondary source that says so. I have restored the tag.
A second sentence tagged was, “Johnstons sources were extensive, including many documents not used by other historians such as Weber.” Ghost removed the tag, but the footnote consisted only of Ghost’s analysis of the difference between the two. I have restored the fact tag.
There are five fact tags in the paragraph beginning “In his book Weber digs a bit... .” The same problems exist -- opinion and argument are added by Ghost to advance his own thesis.
I have added only two FACT tags on the paragraphs dealing with the “fog of war” although many more appear to be needed. Once again, this argument and opinion appears to constitute SYNTHESIS and ORIGINAL RESEARCH.
My suggestion is that we have a single section headed simply “Closure of the railroad” that contains just the facts. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 13:31, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
The "Closure of the railroad" section idea seems reasonable.
Incidentally, I'm not comfortable with the lengthy CVs in the reference section. Best is probably to break these out into separate biographical articles (suitably referenced of course) and link to them in the usual way.--ROGER DAVIES talk 06:33, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

The railroad was effectively shut down on the 23 of May as the article states. Starting on the 25th of May the Confederates began blowing up the bridges and blasting rocks. About 17 bridges were taken out over the next few weeks. By the 2nd of June the major bridge over the steep ravine of Opequon Creek was out and full of 50 coal car and a massive coal fire that lasted for two months. By the 14th of June, the Harpers Ferry Bridge, itself was taken out ... the only one that was within scouting range of US troops. Those are the facts, and about 10 to 15 or more of the references have that data. Some others have part of that data. Some of those references discuss how that the B&O didn't know what was going on, and called it "out" on the 28th of May (that is an annual report merely giving it from their perspective). The B&O did not have a newscam behind the Confederate lines, but major major deals such as the Opequon Bridge fire news got back to them, and they document those major items. The primary historian of Virginia railroads, Johnston, lays it all out fairly well. Apparently, however, summarizing these sources and spelling it out draws the "SYNTHESIS" tag. Using any dozen or two dozen sources which do not fit Mr. Robertson's recent book is considered as having a "POV". I have offered ... and am offering ... to go through all 34 sources on this raid, and cite all 34 in the article. Finally, I maintain my argument that holding up one source over the other 34, is a POV that is being pushed into this article. Occasionally, a source here or there is a bit confusing on the presentation, such as one source that notes a bridge being out on 2 June, but then thinks the railroad is in full operation until 14 June. In that case, there are enough other references, plus common sense, to show that one source to be off (the 2 June bridge completely severed the B&O line, this is because this is a major bridge over a steep ravine, and a photo of that ravine will be added to this article soon). So the POV which endorses the one source (Robertson) over all the other, looks for weak links or poor timelines in some of the references that are really off topic (like Northern Railroads) and attempts to use them to "pad" the one Robertson source to give it more credence. I'd like to finish the work on this article, with all 34 sources, used, and whatever amount of explanation of the varous minor points there and there where they differ. That would seem to be the right article to have. Is it possible to achieve that goal, given all the cooks in this pot of soup? Grayghost01 (talk) 02:04, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

P.S. - the accusation above that none of the references mention the railroad being down on the 25th of May is false. The reference cited for that paragraph is Johnston, the LEADING authority on the history of railroads in Virginia in the Civil War. The reference citation is for the sentence on page 23 of Johnston

  • "TO MAKE SURE the trains STAY TRAPPED and to PREVENT Union armies under George B. McClellan [who was in West Virginia] and Robert Patterson [who was up in Maryland] from using the road, the Confederates began destroying BRIDGES and TRACK on May 25. Closing off the eatern portion was accomplished by blasting a MASSIVE rock ONTO the TRACK at Point of Rocks."

That is the citation of the leading historian on this affair. Seems pretty clear to me, but then again thats just me, the guy attracting all the POV tags. So since my opinion is POV by thinking that the B&O Railroad was inoperabable due to lack of bridges, track and big rocks on tracks on 25 May ... I must be reading it wrong. I am trying to be neutral on this matter, but when I read Johnston, I distinctly get the impression that he is saying the B&O was missing bridges and tracks starting on the 25th of May 1861. His next sentences talk about 17 bridges getting wiped, the Harpers getting dropped, and the 2 June blazing inferno on Opequon Creek. What meaning do you all get from this? Do you think the loss of 17 bridges, an inferno, and a big rock were allowing the RR to operate per the book on another topic ... or do you think this made the RR inoperable per Johnston, the leading Virginia Railraoads in the Civil War historian, with whom many of the other sources on railroad history agree, other than the Northern railroad book that still admits the 2 June inferno, but interprets it such that the trains perhaps magna-lev'd themselves across the gorge and the other 15 briges until the 17th was dropped on 14 June? I'm trying to apply logic, critical thought, and go with the leading historian. Is that what is causing me to have a "POV" that I cannot see, when I think I'm simpy being logical and neutral? Am I being personally attacking or nasty because I'm explaining what my logic is? Grayghost01 (talk) 02:20, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

P.S.S. - in regard to the accusation above that Grayghost keeps adding his "opinions" to the article, you will notice that I have been editing the article by composing and stringing direct quotations in "quotation marks" with references, and then more references for the larger composed sentence ore paragraph which may have quoted materials. Compared to other articles, this seems above, beyond and even overboard on quotations and citations. Therefore I politely point out that the accusation being made is entirely unfounded and untrue. Thank you. Grayghost01 (talk) 02:27, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

The suggestion perhaps comes about because you have been adding material specifically to rebutt Robertson. This is usually regarded as advocacy and is prohibited.
May I also gently suggest that you read WP:TL;DR? Brevity is the key in this sort of discussion. --ROGER DAVIES talk 08:13, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

Closure of the railroad -- Comments requested[edit]

Based on the above discussion (Dealing with the tags), I am proposing eliminating from the article the subsections B&O main stem remains closed May 25 onward and B&O President acknowledges the loss by 28 May and replacing them with a single subsection as follows:

Closure of the railroad[edit]

Historian Angus James Johnston, II, "To make sure the trains stayed trapped and to prevent Union armies under George B. McClellan and Robert Patterson from using the road, the Confederates [still officially Virginia Militia] began destroying bridges and track on May 25," taking down seventeen bridges over the next thirty day period[20] The main stem of the B&O which ran mostly in or near Virgina was severed and cut off from the rest of the line by blasting a "massive rock formation onto the track at Point of Rocks."[21]Johnston made the determination that in fact no rail traffic passed the B&O main stem west of Point of Rocks after the end of May, and west of Opequon Creek Bridge two miles east of Martinsburg after June 2.

Historian John F. Stover notes that John W. Garrett, President of the B&O Railroad, acknowledged that by May 28 the Virginia forces (called Confederate by Garrett) had taken control of 100 miles of the main stem from Point of Rocks westward.[22] However, Stover indicates that the destruction of the railroad did not begin until "early June", culminating in the destruction of the "800-foot combined highway-railroad bridge at Harpers Ferry" on June 14. Stover writes, "With this dramatic action, the main line of the B&O was to be effectively closed down for nearly ten months."[23]

Historian Thomas Weber also indicates that the trains continued to run from May 28 for another 17 days until June 14, and gives his account of the raid by Jackson as occurring coincidentally with his view of a June 14 shutdown:

“For some time after May 28, Jackson allowed all trains to run back and forth, probably because he was trying to win as many Confederate sympathizers in the area as he could, and hence did not want to indulge in too much property destruction. For more than two weeks, B & O East-West trains were literally run through the lines of both armies.”[24]

William Prescott Smith, master of transportation for the railroad and the “good man Friday” to Garrett, who notes that at least through June 2 the railroad was still operating through the Virginia stretch:

“I have to advise you that the Southern forces at Harper’s Ferry took the Mail matter from our Mail train, bound east from Wheeling for Baltimore, during the night. This is the first instance, as far as my reports advise, wherein the mail has been disturbed at any point of our lines . ...

Another bridge upon our line was destroyed at nine o’clock this morning, near Martinsburg, but as four of those previously destroyed have been restored already, and as we are determined to continue to working the road to fullest extent wherever it is all safe to do so, we hope the Department will understand that we are not disposed to suspend our operations for any cause whatever that we can possibly control.[25]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Henderson, pp.91-92
  2. ^ Evans, Vol.III, p.78
  3. ^ Browne, p.173
  4. ^ Candenquist, CW Times, Dec 1991
  5. ^ Black, pp.88-89
  6. ^ Burns, Bulletin 104, "Confederates Gather Steam"
  7. ^ Henderson, pp.91-92
  8. ^ Evans, Vol.III, p.78
  9. ^ Browne, p.173
  10. ^ Candenquist, CW Times, Dec 1991
  11. ^ Black, pp.88-89
  12. ^ Burns, Bulletin 104, "Confederates Gather Steam"
  13. ^ Shriver
  14. ^ Notes for the painting Jackson Commandeers the Railroad: Mort Kunstler received many requests to paint this event. Federal forces had cut off the 38 miles of rail lines from Martinsburg to Strasburg. General Stonewall Jackson, with the help of Capt. Thomas A. Sharp and Hugh Longust, both experienced railroad men, led the successful operation of moving as much rolling stock and equipment as possible overland to the southern railhead. A newspaper report stated: "Fourteen locomotives, a large number of railroad cars, nine miles of track, telegraph wires and about $40,000 worth of machinists' tools and materials, all belonging to the B&O Railroad, have been successfully hauled overland by the Confederates." The feat was accomplished by using a 40-horse hitch team. What a spectacular scene that would have been.
  15. ^ http://www.nps.gov/nhl/designations/samples/wv/roundhouse.pdf
  16. ^ Browne, p.173
  17. ^ Black, p.89
  18. ^ Henderson, p.92
  19. ^ Candenquist, CWEA Field Tour, August, 2008
  20. ^ Johnston, p.23
  21. ^ Johnston, p.23
  22. ^ Stover p. 106
  23. ^ Stover p.105
  24. ^ Weber p. 76
  25. ^ Bain p. 35

The changes I am proposing:

  • Eliminate discussions (Original Research) of the merits of Johnston over other historians.
  • Eliminate discussions (more Original Research) of the weaknesses of other historians and explanations of why they maybe didn’t understand the full picture (i.e. “fogs of war”)
  • Separate the views of Stover and Johnston into separate paragraphs. As the article exists it was made to seem as if the two were largely in agreement, however Stover, in fact, has major differences with Johnston. For example, Stover's quoting of Garrett that the railroad was in control of the railroads is not the same as saying that the railroad was totally closed by that date.

Please provide you comments on whether the above section should replace the existing section. I expect to proceed with similar proposals on other sections in the near future. This seems the more orderly way to do it. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 18:32, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

I respectfully and strongfully disagree with what you are trying to do. The vast majority of the primary references, and by vast majority I mean all but one and part of one, agree that the B&O railroad was severely disrupted, closed, shut down, or otherwise ceased operations through that section of Virginia. What you are doing is equating fraction, a minority, a small point of view on equal terms with the preponderance of the body of knowledge and historical views. Thus, in effect, you seek to minimize the majority and overwhelming point of view of historians, and hold up a minority with equal treatment. Additionally, you also entirely eliminate the discussion about WHY these views are different, and how the minority views fail to explain the sudden appearance of a train-yard full of trains out of nowhere, and how they got there when a major bridge over a deep ravine just outside that railyard was destroyed. You also eliminate the discussion on how one of the two minority views admits several of those facts, despites its minority view. And therefore you serve your own personal POV on this issue. The direction that you keep trying to take this article is to makie it read as if one fine spring day in the middle of June, after basically nothing has been happening for a month, 400 rolling stock just sitting there suddenly got burnt, because they just happend to be there all of a sudden, and a couple got unbolted and moved. Bascially, you simply want to re-write Robertson's book here, which says nothing. So do not proceed with slanting the article to match your POV. Rather, the article should reflect the majority historical view, which is a view you do not happen to have. Grayghost01 (talk) 03:23, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

Support for Tom's proposal. The number of primary sources consulted is immaterial to the discussion. The only legitimate sources for Wikipedia articles are secondary sources and the citations of primaries should be removed, along with original research that attempts to evaluate the credibility of those primary sources. Hal Jespersen (talk) 03:52, 22 November 2008 (UTC)
Support per Hal. --ROGER DAVIES talk 07:41, 22 November 2008 (UTC)
Support. I do believe primary sources may be used per WP:RS but only when they are given prima facie without any attempt to "help" derive what it means for the reader..you have to let them make up their own mind. That aside, there does not appear to be agreement between the sources & this article and we need to get it resolved.
⋙–Berean–Hunter—► ((⊕)) 11:49, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

I mis-spoke relative to the way "primary" is being used here. By "primary" I meant the main references talking about the history of railroads in the Civil War, and which treat the article at hand substantially, and secondary in the sense of books on other topics, which happen to mention the event in a minor way. In Hal's use, "primary" is meaning something else. So to use Hal's meaning, the PREPONDERANCE of "secondary" sources overwhelmingly present a description of events, which is being methodically bashed and edited out of the article. Nowhere in this article are any "primary" references being used, per Hal's use of the word.

Thus the reader of the article needs to be aware that the overwhelming view of secondary sources (Hals use) give certain facts, and that one secondary source omits certain facts used by the other sources, and asserts they are "fictional". Grayghost01 (talk) 04:41, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

The fact remains that Robertson is probably the most authoritative source here. Using sources that pre-date him to contradict his subsequent assertions, when the earlier sources were unaware of his argument and thefore unable to weigh the substance of it, is relying on what lawyers call "the fruit of the rotten bough". The article can always be updated in the future to reflect significant new scholarship supporting or contradicting Robertson. The fact also remains that many military events do develop their own mythical folklore (cf. English casualties at the Battle of Agincourt and the Angel of Mons) perhaps because the hopes and dreams of so many people rest upon them. --ROGER DAVIES talk 08:00, 22 November 2008 (UTC)
I implemented the proposed change based on the above discussion as well as the discussion in the following section. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 15:46, 22 November 2008 (UTC)
I've invited Grayghost01 to hold fire for a time to see how the pagespace evolves without his contributions. Meanwhile, he's userfied his own copy so as to develop a better approach to make his case in pagespace. I'm not counting him out; I still think the Robertson view should be treated as minority view, no matter how scholarly. It would interesting to see how the temporary data fork might improve the article long-term. For my part, I think Tom and some other editors have been treated unkindly of late by User:Grayghost01, but I don't think the ghost means any harm, and I think we're writing about blood between brothers way thicker than any we'll ever spill in this arena. I hope we can all keep that in mind. BusterD (talk) 17:00, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

In my own defense, again, as I have consistently maintained, Robertson is not the primary historian here on this affair. Rather it is Johnston, who is the only historian to exhaustively and purposefully treat this affair. Next in line are some periodicals on the affiar. Then come historians writing on OTHER topics such as railroads in general or people (like Robertson). As you can all see above, North Shoreman proceeds with doing exactly what he feels like doing, inseting mostly language which is not citing a reference, and which he has composed. In contrast, I refined my editing to a point of stringing together quotations from references ... which to the best I have been able to figure out must be the "synthesizing" that I am accused of. Can anyone enlighten me as to what "synthesizing" is? And is "original research" what happens when I list and use some 30-odd published books to insert quoted phrases which are cited? As I review other Wiki articles, I see less citations, less references, and less use of quoted phrases. Perhaps I began leaning in the wrong direction? Is this why Northshoreman has deleted my quotation of "May 25" that I cited from Johnston? What that "synthesizing" and "POV" to have begun using direct quoations? Someone please explain. That is, before being burned at the stake, it would be good if someone would go through all the cited referenced quotations, one by one, and explain the problem. Thanks. Grayghost01 (talk) 22:53, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

I have requested informal mediation; I am willing to take this all the way to ArbCom if necessary[edit]

Uninvolved long-time pedia editor User:Gwen Gale (who does not live in the USA) has offered to participate in informal mediation. Gwen happens to be an adminstrator, but I requested Gwen because while we have disagreed in the past I still trusted her enough to support her second run for the mop. Gwen's initial response is here. Based on her initial reading, she has warned User:Grayghost01 against original synthesis and has requested that all original research be "skived" from the pagespace. "Skived " must be a Swiss term meaning removed. BusterD (talk) 12:44, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

Skive is English (probably more common in the UK than the US) meaning to cut away or to shirk. I don't think the second meaning applies here :) Oh, and incidentally, just for the record, I'm neither American nor a US resident. --ROGER DAVIES talk 13:05, 22 November 2008 (UTC)
One more definition request (to Gwen or whomever can answer)...what does skeinish mean? That one is new to me.
⋙–Berean–Hunter—► ((⊕)) 00:17, 23 November 2008 (UTC)
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/skein. Cheers :) Gwen Gale (talk) 01:11, 23 November 2008 (UTC)
Thanks..⋙–Berean–Hunter—► ((⊕)) 01:39, 23 November 2008 (UTC)
Gwen reminds me that behaviors such as those discussed above are "blockable", that is, any uninvolved administrator can begin placing blocks (each escalating in severity) on a user dedicated to inserting OR and advocacy into any article. I urge all involved parties to be aware that uninvolved eyes will solve this problem for us if we can't solve it ourselves. BusterD (talk) 13:15, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

Newspaper Accounts[edit]

I took a look at various newspapers covering the Harpers Ferry "showdown", as all eyes were on this spot for the beginnings of the War. The papers also reported the various troop and battery movements, but it is odd that there was never mention of any bottleneck of engines running but a couple of hours mid-day through the Ferry. The27thmaine (talk) 19:54, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

New York Herald, Sat 25 May (Harrisburg, 23 May): "Upwards of 2,000 bushels of corn were seized by the rebels at Harpers Ferry this week, while passing over the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. We have intimations that it was designedly sent by that route"

New York Herald, 25 May (Baltimore, 24 May): "Coal trains were detained there this morning, and none have come down to-day"

New York Herald, Sun 26 May (Baltimore 25 May): (same report as below in Milw. Sent.)

Milwaukee Morning Sentinel, Mon 27 May (Baltimore 25 May): "No trains run over the B+O Railroad last night or to-day. Eleven engines and a large number of cars have been detained at Harpers Ferry. 49 men were arrested at Harpers Ferry and are now in jail"

Milw. Morn. Sent, 27 May (Baltimore, 25 May, a 2:00 pm report) "Trains have just arrived. Reports of hostilities at Harpers Ferry unfounded"

New York Herald, 27 May (Baltimore 26 May): "The report that Bollman Rock, at Harpers Ferry, had been blasted with gunpowder and thrown down the track, is false. It was imperfectly mined, and the train fired, but the rock stands firm. It is 40 feet above the track"

Daily Cleveland Herald, Mon 27 May: Report from a man who travelled from Washington to Martinsburgh, remarking on the politeness of an officer there: "I left Washington on the 24th. At Harpers Ferry, I had no trouble. An officer, apparently of the rank of colonel, passed through the cars"

Milwaukee Morning Sentinel, Tues 28 May: "The railroad bridge is mined, ready for the insertion of the fuse. All the way from Grafton to M____ Bridge, save on the Cumberland section, Virginians have possession of the B+O Railroad, and have mined the other bridges, as they have the one at Harpers Ferry"

New York Herald, 29 May (Washington 28 May): "Three of the large bridges on the B+O Railorad west of Grafton have been blown up by the rebel troops. They have succeeded in precipitating an immense rock upon the tracks near Harpers Ferry, and have thereby not only stopped all communication, but have locked up at that point some 25 of the finest engines on that great road"

Daily Cleveland Herald, 30 May (Washington 29 May): "One end only of the great rock blown down at Harpers Ferry had fallen on the track, and two hours work with gunpowder would suffice to remove it"

The (Boston) Liberator, 28 June (Baltimore 24 June): "The agent of the B+O Railroad at Martinsburg has arrived, and reports a great destruction of the property of the compnay there by rebels. 48 Locomotives and a large number of gondolas and coal cars were surrounded by piles of wood and fired"


27th Maine: I've found in my reading of the Yankee news that their reports were often delayed, inaccurate and off a bit. It is no different to this day, as in the First Gulf War I participated in. Nevertheless, even in the bits you cite, here is what I see consistently coming through:

  • "seized by the rebels", "coal trains were detained", "none have come down", "No trains run over the B&O", and so on. Then other contractions such as "trains just arrived" and "reports of hostilties ... unfounded".

Such is the news, which was mostly gossip-reporting. Thats why trains are arriving and not arriving. One person sees a train pull in, and thinks all is okay, not realizing or knowing which trains were detained, and where any particular train that came in may have came from. Remember the B&O connected to Washington and into Philadelphia, so these types of anecdotes will not give you the accurate picture of what trains are coming from where. But here is an interesting one:

  • New York Herald, 29 May (Washington 28 May): "Three of the large bridges on the B+O Railorad west of Grafton have been blown up by the rebel troops. They have succeeded in precipitating an immense rock upon the tracks near Harpers Ferry, and have thereby not only stopped all communication, but have locked up at that point some 25 of the finest engines on that great road"

Gee ... eventually some bits of the real news from behind the enemy lines will trickle out. Knowing in hindsight that the Rebs had blown rocks onto the line and started taking out bridges, you can look back and take the news in a better perspective. But wait, remember this raid is supposedly "totally fiction" as the article says up front. How are "25 of the finest engines" "locked up"? And how do we know this count is accurate? Is this 25 of the engines that left from the east toward the Ohio, and so the reporter has only the information from one side, not knowing that about 60 or more were detained in total, and that 25 would be about the one-half lined up to have come from one direction?

So, as inaccurate as the news articles are, in hindsight, one can always sort out the basic elements of consistency. None of the news articles caught the 2nd of June, 1861 blowing of the Opequon Creek bridge over the ravine with 50 coal cars, which as a matter of the laws of physics absolutely prevented any further possible use of the B&O through Martinsburg after that. And that raises this point: Your list contains no Southern News articles, which also reported on events. You are only showing the news from the side that cannot "see" what is happening over behind the Virginia Militia controlled lines. Alexandria, VA has been invaded at this point. Things are in full swing. No one in Virginia is permitting the Union to peacefully pass through this area after the 24th of May, while the Union is seizing Virginia cities a few miles to the east of here.

I appreciate your posting these articles. They substantiate Johnston's historical conclusions in his book Virginia Railroads in the Civil War on the B&O, of which most ran through Virginia all the way to the Ohio River (Virginia's western border at that time). Johnston conludes, after reviewing his exhaustive list that he gives in his book, that the B&O traffic through Virginia was not occuring anytime after the 25th of May. Perhaps some trains leave Baltimore and head toward Harpers, only to be sent back and arrive in Baltimore, and then one reporter says all is well, trains are arriving, and the other reporter is saying the trains are detained and so on, and so on. Nonetheless, Johnston is the only book that treats this thoroughly, and from Virginia's view based on Confederate and Virginia records. Even the B&O themselves only ever had part of the picture. Later a couple of periodicals were written covering this affair specifically.

Now, for the viewing audience, here is a fun new item for you all to read about the "totally fictional" raid, from an assistant to Captain Sharp, who became involved ... not at the beginning when 4 small locomotives were driven down the W&PRR on the wood-strap rails to Winchester ... but weeks later when the Confederacy has called in the experts to get the rest of the prize. This was written in 1898:

  • Wikisource:Stealing Railroad Engines - This picks up the story from J.E. Duke in July of 1861 when the Confederates, having repulsed most of the invading forces from northern Virginia after the gun fight at Manassas, were then free to go about the business of unbolting their prizes still sitting up in Martinsburg (or Martinsburgh as it is referred to in this article) and begin the process of stealing their 5th locomotive and upward, until 14 were taken, plus the original 4 driven straight to Winchester, and one left sitting on the side of the Martinsburg Turnpike for the entire remainder of the war. Thus 19 (4 + 14 + 1) were taken, and J.E. Duke's account of this is dead-center on target. These 14 locomotives were moved late that summer onward, with the last one still at Strasburg at the time Gen J.E. Johnston had used all the stolen B&O rails to create the Centreville Military Railroad (which Johnston talks about EXTENSIVELY). The last locomotive, #199, was taken to Staunton, which proves that the people living along the Pike were not imagining train ghosts in their diaries and newspapers. So 19 locomotives were taken of 67 captured all together (per Johnston). It was an amazing "totally fiction" raid. Perhaps mass hysteria set in, as rumors of locomotives were passed on, and the entire population began confirming the fiction to themselves? But perhaps we'll never know, because Imboden just made it up, that lying Rebel.

The following year, 1899, Mr. Jedidiah Hotchkiss, the man who was critical of Imboden (per Robertson), relayed a small section on the affair as well in his volume on Virginia in the Confederate Military History. Does anyone find it odd that Robetson (and other editors here) use this dig to ping on Imboden, yet Hotchkiss verifies the affair that Imboden spoke of? Does anyone find it odd that the body-of-knowledge on this raid comes mostly from sources OTHER than Imboden? User:Grayghost01

By looking through the old newspapers, I was actually hoping to find sources to back up your article. I was searching the database for anything from 23 to 28 May, and I believe there were some hits from a Savannah, Georgia paper, but nothing pertaining to the rails. I'll look some more. Until the other day, I hadn't heard of the Great Train Raid. There is actually a mission on the new Xbox360 game History Civil War: Secret Missions (yeah, I started this page) about this raid, though I haven't reached it yet. The27thmaine (talk) 02:54, 23 November 2008 (UTC)
27th-Maine, as you scour the news articles, keep this in mind: There was typically a news-lag of days to a week or two. The more an event was deep behind Confederate States lines ... the more delay. Harpers Weekly tended to report events from the Winchester & Martinsburg area about one-month after they really happened. I've found that events happening while Jackson occupied Harpers Ferry were very latently reported, and most of it was not reported at all. Secondly, there are Southern news articles from the time on the Raid. These are usually overlooked, because you can't go buy a fancy reproduced book like you can for Leslie's or Harpers. You have to go to Strasburg, to Winchester, to Martinsburg or to Charles Town and actually do work, and dig through archives. And when you do ... they are true "primary sources" and thus ineligible for Wiki. So for the Northern papers, look about 3 to 6 weeks after events. For instance, grand noble woodcuts continued to grace Leslie's and Harper's for months after the butt-whoopin at First Manassas. Reading those alone, you'd think the war was on the verge of being over in August of 1861. They predictively reported such things as the soon-to-be reaping of Southern farm produce right off the farms by the Yankee Army. Again, thanks for your articles above, which I've added to my extensive notes on this raid. They all seem to have bought in to Imboden's story. Wait ... how could they have been reporting on a story Imboden had not fabricated yet? Since it seems this article is destined to say that trains rolled peacefully through Virginia for weeks after the invasion of Alexandria ... these news articles will likely be summarily dismissed. Perhaps you need to limit your search to Robertson's footnotes? (wiki humor) Grayghost01 (talk) 04:06, 23 November 2008 (UTC)
Your understanding of "original research" & "primary sources" seems to be flawed. You wrote: "These are usually overlooked, because you can't go buy a fancy reproduced book like you can for Leslie's or Harpers. You have to go to Strasburg, to Winchester, to Martinsburg or to Charles Town and actually do work, and dig through archives. And when you do ... they are true 'primary sources' and thus ineligible for Wiki."
I believe that is incorrect. If the newspapers were once published (and they once were) then they are fair game as secondary sources. The act of going to a local library or even traveling 1000 miles to a different library and digging through old newspapers does not constitute original research. A primary source example would be if someone brought an unpublished letter from say Jackson or Imboden to the article and attempted to use it. Since others couldn't verify the letter it would likely not qualify for Wikipedia.
User:The27thmaine has done a good job and on the right track...his sources are not as easily dismissed as you would like to imply. And what happens if he or anyone else turns up southern newspapers that bolster the ones already presented? What happens if they don't agree with your derivation of facts? You've just disqualified northern papers in your mind but qualified southern papers...but will you begin a new tact of disqualification for the southern papers if they don't happen to coincide with your beliefs?
⋙–Berean–Hunter—► ((⊕)) 12:27, 23 November 2008 (UTC)

Berean Hunter: Help me out on one point here. Since I have stuck to inserting material and even directly quoted phrases or sentences from multi-hundred page history books on the railroads ... claims of "Original Research" have been slapped on this article. Yet ... you say that newspapers are usable material for Wiki because they were published. What is the basis for the people arguing "Original Research" on this article? In another ACW forum I was once told by one of the contributor here that using the "Official Records" was using a primary source, and I was encouraged to remove some quote from that. Yet, given what you tell me, the published Official Records are usable? Yet again, I was told by one of the contributors here that only historian-written books on the subjects should be used. Thus the relativisitic Island Rules seem elusive, and I notice change to fit various contributors "Points of View" which they wish to defend in their various articles. Yet, again, another time I was told that the National Park Service was the standard convention in the ACW forum for naming battles, and that I and anyone who ever visits Winchester, would have to suffer the utter confusion of figuring out what the heck the Battle of Opequan is. (Pronounced Ah-peck-in by the way). But yet the First Battle of Bull Run is named so, in violation of this very same evoked "standard" of the NPS naming convention. And at that, it's using an incorrect name, since the Union Army called it the Battle of Bull's Run. What gives on all this? Where are the rules? Why do the rules change from article to article? Who makes the rules? Why are actual verifiable historical names not used, such as the Battle of Hawe's Shop for the incorrectly named Battle of Haw's Shop here on Wiki? Why, above, do three people, all of the same biased view, become the "consensus" to delete quoted secondary sources and text from the article? Is there a rule on consensus in Wiki, in which both views must be considered? How can a consensus be reache to deleted cited secondary sources, if that is supposedly another rule or guideline that is to be followed? I assert that the rule and guideline making is very relativistic in ACW, and that the conventions often contradict other supposed Wiki conventions. If a band or group of folks, all of one view, can cluster around some key administrator friends, then a decent little click can ensue, which generally does its own thing, unchecked by anything else.

On the newspapers ... even the Northern newspapers carry woodcuts of the locomotives stacked by the dozens in Martinsburg (that's in the article), the locomotives tossed in the ravines (one is in the article). I have two others scanned and not yet in the article of cars being dumped in the river, and the Harpers getting dropped. Thats JUST from one newspaper alone, from the North. These articles are discussed by some of the secondary history sources. The Strasburg, Virginia newspaper carried news of the locomotives, the Staunton Newspaper, where the whole darn town turned out for their locomotive arriving, and the list goes on. I was merely pointing out to 27th Maine that the Southern newspapers really have more of the coverage, whereas the Northern newspapers had less, because they had to rely on rumors, gossip and "special agent" work. But if and when the Northern papers covered these events, that a REAL tell-tale sign. And since Harpers shows the whole yard at Martinsburg STACKED TO THE GILLS (see the article) ... that's incredibly damning evidence which utterly contradicts the assertion that this raid is "totally fictional", a "delightful" story, "manufactured", and a "fable" (all Robertson's rantings, in his unveiled ire toward Imboden). If newspapers are "secondary sources" as you say, and any published material, then the amount of secondary sources on this affair will be near endless. One could even use Robertson, himself, as a secondary source against himself, as he describes a remarkably similar affiar on p.245 in which ... get this ... 56 locomotives and hundreds of railcars are burned in Martinsburg ... which just happened to be sitting there. No explanation at all is offered by Robertson as to WHY or HOW these 56 locomotives and hundreds of rail cars happened to be just sitting there a couple of weeks after 17 bridges were knocked out, and in the same general timeframe (end of May, early June) that Imboden's story LIKELY fits in to. Did Robertson forget that he had already poo-pooed this 16 pages earlier, an inadvertently write it all back in? Were the 56 locomotives taken at Martinsburg a different set of 56 locomotives from the ones Imboden claimed were taken? In fact, Imboden didn't provide a number of trains, so how and why does Robertson assign "56" locomotives in his ranting against Imboden, as if Imboden gave that information? Were there really 112 locomotives in question, 56 being false ones, and 56 being true? How and why does Robertson think that Imboden is connected to a story about 56 locomotives? Why not 25 or 4 or some other number? Were the 4 locomotives taken to Winchester in late may the affiar Imboden was talking about? If so, why wouldn't Robertson assign the number 4 to Imbodens "fable" instead of the number 56? Having read and re-read Robertson's section, its incredibly baffling to me. I cannot even figure out what dates or time references he is using, as Robertson does not give any dates for Imboden's one paragraph blurb on this affair. As a secondary source being used in this article, the Robertson book is a very poor reference. In his write up, the bottom half of page 229, there is not a SINGLE citation of ANYTHING for what he says about Imboden. There is not a SINGLE date on the entire page 229. The previous page mentions "early May" on the last line. Has Robertson put it in his head that Imboden was meaning the locomotives were trapped in early May, and then arguing that this is why Imboden's account must be false? Is this why Robertsons next date on page 230 is "May 21" on line four? Indeed, Robertson's criticism of Imboden CANNOT EVEN BE PINNED DOWN TO ANY PARTICULAR DATE AT ALL!! How, then, can it be used in any meaningful way against more detailed information in other secondary sources? Where is the logic in this? How can the manner in which Robertson has been used in this artile be VERIFIED? It cannot. No sir, it cannot at all. No wonder I had to give all those cited references to May 23, the date which Johnston and others seem to know. The contributors using Robertson as the "main" secondary source, here in this article, must surely struggle to even understand much of this affiar at all, much less any corresponding date.

In my opinion, just my opinion, when an historian lets his bias against some individual in the past get up his ire ... that historian is doomed to make errors in judgment, resulting in unintended revisions of historical truth. That's why when you read Robertson from page 229 to 245, you are impressed with the Saturday-In-The-Park atmosphere of events in the northern Shenandoah Valley. But if you read any of dozens of other historians on local affairs here (stacks of published books), you get the complete opposite picture of a State focused on rushing to defend itself, and great damage being done to the B&O Railroad, practically unfettered until the spring of 1862 when Commissary Banks delivered all the medical supplies for all the Confederate hospitals in the state. Somebody should write a book on the Northern Shenandoah Valley from January to July of 1861. It would be a grand and incredible book.—Preceding unsigned comment added by User:Grayghost01 (talkcontribs)

To answer some of your questions, please see this and read this as well. Also this. Perhaps you are so involved that you do not realize how you may be coming across to people such that they are drawing these conclusions (synthesis etc..). When you deduce that Robertson is "ranting" and has ire for Imboden...where did you read that?..or is that your own conclusion? (Do you see?) All of that implies that Robertson is emotionally involved and I don't think that would be the case. Btw, I'm not hinging theories based on Robertson...I'm willing to keep an open mind and continue to assay the sources presented...it will be interesting to see what else surfaces.
⋙–Berean–Hunter—► ((⊕)) 23:10, 23 November 2008 (UTC)

Berean Hunter: Hal (below) has a polar opposite view on the use of sources. How do you reconcile your different views? Are newspaper articles citable references in Wikipedia or not? Hal seems to have said no, while you seem to have said yes. Which is correct? (Thank goodness no news articles are cited in this article, save an occasional eye-candy woodcut from a Northern Newspaper drawing up their hallucinations on the "fictional" railyard at Martinsburg full of locomotives). As far as my personal opinion that Robertson seems to have a bone to pick with Imboden, that view and personal conclusion I get from reading Robertson's book and his railing on Imboden, see pages 229 and on. He states that he's going to disregard Imboden, and comes up with these extreme acccusations of "fable" and "totally fiction" ... which, to me, in not normal for a professional historian to write. A professional historian would typically cut a gentler path, leaving open the possiblity of further convincing proof. Robertson ONLY focuses on Imboden, and disregards any and all other material, because he simply drops the whole affair and discusses no other information which is independently verifiable apart from Imboden. Well ... that is until Robertson seemingly forgets his conclusion on page 229, and then on page 245 relates the SAME RAID AGAIN, only this time its true!! How does that work? The date-less raid on page 229 suddenly reappears on page 245 as gospel truth! And I have not yet found Robertson talking about relevant and key information such as the dropping of the Opequon Creek bridge on the 2nd of June, or any other of the 17 bridges, save the grand and glorious Harpers Ferry bridge itself. But Roberston waxes eloquent on that one. You can smell the smoke, see the sweat, smell the river, and see the Johnny Rebs running off south of the Shenandoah Canal. By the way ... why doesn't Robertson talk about the W&PRR railroad bridge just a bit further up river? Isn't that odd? The more one reads Robertson, the more one may suspect that his paragraph long treatment out of 950 pages may not be enough on this topic to merit use in this article, beyond a footnote or so. But who am I, the POV-Neo-Confederate, to make such a conclusion? I challenge anyone to read these sources, see all the Civil War Trails signs, read all the magazine articles, and read the diary accounts in the secondary sources ... and continue to think "totally fiction". Grayghost01 (talk) 05:09, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

Primary sources[edit]

During my entire discussion, when I have said "primary sources", what I have meant are the "main" or "most important" of the multi-hundred page history books which focus the most on this topic. Thus a "secondary work" as one might call it. Then again, anyone reading the article and looking up citations would know that. But I see much written above about "primary sources" not being able to be used. If these are diaries, news, etc, then if or when they appear in this article, it is through a SECONDARY work. Sometimes, it is enhancing to the article to quote such things, like a diary saying "I saw a locomotive go down the street today" as it has been used and discussed in one of those SECONDARY works. Those points are fascinating, and I think good in the article, particularly for affairs called "totally fiction" by one SECONDARY work, when dozens of other SECONDARY works treat the same affair as real. Elsewhere in the American Civil War, there are disupted accounts of things, but I've never seen an entire affair tossed out with the bathwater like this. In reading Robertson's section on May of 1861, you get absolutely no thought or idea, whatsoever, that anything is happening on the B&O railroad at all, until one day the Harpers bridge gets dropped. Thus Roberston has cut out all PRIMARY and SECONDARY works on this, entirely. For that reason, and because of all the other SECONDARY works which disagree with him, I assert that Robertson's account has tarnished value for use in this article, beyond explaining that one of the later biographers on Jackson, in a huge book, simply lists in footnotes why he chose not to talk about this in the main chapter. And the historian Johnston is the primary historian for all Virginia railroads in the Civil War, and I know of no other historian who eclipses Johnston for that (if there is another, please let me know). Regards, Grayghost01 (talk) 23:06, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

Secondary Sources[edit]

Question 1: One policy, or suggestion, that I would like someone to explain is the logic and reasoning behind the argument that since Robertson wrote a book in 1997, that any and all secondary sources written for the 100 years before that are considered of little value. Does this hold true for all material, of all types and categories in the biography of Jackson? In other words, are all other secondary sources on all other points and aspects of Jackson's now null and void relative to Robertson, and Robertson's work considered an Ace-of-Spades of some sort? And if someone writes merely a new book on Jackson, and asserts new things, does that, then, automatically become the latest "main" secondary source, then trumping Robertson?

Question 2: In reviewing what Robertson actually wrote, his sole argument against the affair in its entirety is his distrust of Imboden. Yet, only a mere and extremely minor fraction of the information of the affair comes from Imboden. Even then, one source (Hungerford) has an actual quote of a message relayed to Garrett from Jackson, which foils Robertson's position (a quoted message for a supposedly fictional communication exchange). Would this restrict the use of Robertson merely to the material that he questions (Imbodens), or is the use of Robertson extrapolatable to all types and manners of other non-Imobden information?

Question 3: Why does Roberston say on p.229 that the events of a taking of 56 locomotives and 300 rail cars is "totally fictional" ... and then on p.245 relates an extremely similar affair that took 56 locomotives and tenders and 305 cars as factual historical truth? He mentions no date with the former affair. How are these two parts of his book reconciled? Is this coincidental?

Question 4: When Robertson talks about Hungerford, Johnston and Weber, he only talks about Imboden and the use of Imboden. Yet these three historians, in reading their books, use an impressive array of sources, the vast majority of which is not Imboden. In their thoroughness they all capture Imboden's comments, but it comprises only a mere fraction of what they relate. Is Robertson only questioning the small parts of information of Imboden that are touched upon by these other historians, and are we too assume that the rest of their research is valid? And as a corollary, if Robertson is speaking to all of their information about the taking of locomotives does this imply that Robertson is now a more authoritative source on railroad history in Virginia, and on B&O railroad history? Should Robertson become a main secondary source on other railroad articles as a result?

These questions form my premise for challenging the value of Robertson as a secondary source for this article. I assert that Johnston and Hungerford are the two best secondary sources for not just this article, but for all articles touching on use and actions involving the B&O and other railroads throughout Virginia in the Civil War. I also assert that Weber, Stover, Black, Barringer, Browne, Burns, Delagrange, and Lash (that I've read through so far) all offer new items of information, the majority of which is not information from Imboden either. Thus, if Robertson is upheld as a main secondary source above all others for this article, I would like to see how this is supposed to address the majority of the information in the article. Grayghost01 (talk) 20:06, 23 November 2008 (UTC)

A secondary source is "a document or recording that relates or discusses information originally presented elsewhere. A secondary source contrasts with a primary source, which is an original source of the information being discussed. Secondary sources involve generalization, analysis, synthesis, interpretation, or evaluation of the original information." Unless a newspaper article is a "news analysis" (to use a modern term) it is probably a primary source, just dumping out information gathered by a reporter that day. A news article saying that "no trains arrived today" is a primary source. (A news article that said something like "An investigation of railroad records over the month and interviews with three railroad engineers and the company president reveals that Jackson destroyed 87 trains" would probably be considered a secondary source.) Records of train movements at the railroad company office are primary sources. Diaries, orders, letters, and memoirs of participants are primary. The Official Records are certainly a primary source, making no attempt whatsoever to analyze or interpret the raw data presented. A good, although not without exceptions, rule of thumb is that a reliable secondary source will have footnotes (or at least a bibliography) citing the (usually published) primary sources it is evaluating. In the field of history, most reliable secondary sources will be written by published historians. Hal Jespersen (talk) 01:36, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
So, Hal, it appears that you have a major 180-degree-out difference of opinion from Berean Hunter above? In the meantime, I have used citations of secondary sources, citing a page number, and if appropriate noting their citation of another primary source if that happened to be the case. However, help me out. I'm still trying to trace the logic of the contributing editor that has placed all the SYNTHESIS and ORIGINAL RESEARCH tags. Again, is this due to my page-specific citations of secondary sources, where I have directly quoted a phrase or sentence? Did I "synthesize" and "originally research" a 23rd of May start of events by directly citing secondary sources in that manner? And another thing, I've noticed that the other contributing editor (who is able to keep his generally uncited edits per the 3-person "support" ruling) has chosen ... of all the secondary sources ... to overlook Johnston, the most specialized historian on this topic ... and use Weber, apparantly because he describes the raid, but without a date, and so that, albeit in a twisted manner, can haphazardly be used to attempt to support Robertson's equally undated discussion of "totally fiction" for the event which he never tells us of when (what date) it was that is supposedly did not happen. Now, keep in mind it did happen 16 pages later in Robertson on page 245 (or at least an extremely similar raid, which just so happens to involve the same number of locomotives and just 5 more railcars than the previous "fictional" event). Despite my Jacob Marley chain-like burden of dozens of POV type tags ... I still strongly suspect my ~125 or more direct citations and use of 34 references virtually eliminates any POV possibility, and that a POV is certainly carrying the day in this article, which is not from my keyboard. Grayghost01 (talk) 04:48, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia:No original research[edit]

This page: Wikipedia:No original research says this:

  • Citing sources and avoiding original research are inextricably linked: to demonstrate that you are not presenting original research, you must cite reliable sources that are directly related to the topic of the article, and that directly support the information as it is presented.

Well, I guess I can totally check that box.

  • In short, stick to the sources.

Yep, I've nailed that one.

  • In general the most reliable sources are peer-reviewed journals and books published in university presses; university-level textbooks; magazines, journals, and books published by respected publishing houses; and mainstream newspapers.

This is interesting. It seems to contradict what Hal was saying, and seems to support Berean Hunter's view. But it doesn't define a "mainstream" newspaper. Would that be a circulation size? What is the criteria?

How about this?:

  • Synthesis occurs when an editor puts together multiple sources to reach a novel conclusion that is not in any of the sources. Even if published by reliable sources, material must not be connected together in such a way that it constitutes original research.

Am I stringing together all the sources which say the affair started on 23 May, such that connected together they say 23 May in a way that constitutes original research? Or ... are other contributing editors stringing together just two references which give no date at all, in order to string together a conclusion of proving a negative, that 23 May was not the day? It seems to be that the latter is the "original research", per the definition given. But that's okay. I don't think we need to put any tags on the article. If we modify the previous 3-way "support" insertion, such that it removes the original research that was synthesized, that should be good enough. And ... is the stem-to-stern chain of events given in the Northwestern University, published for the Virginia Historical Society book by Johnston also not enough to establish the credibility of a whole chain of dated events, as he gives them, since it is a university-level press, with Virginia Historical Society backing, and by itself presenting the overall view and flow of things? Please, folks, read these sources in this article, so that we can sift the real synthesis and original research stringing together undated "chains" of events from the real dated chains of events in the better sources. Grayghost01 (talk) 06:00, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

December 2 Edit[edit]

I have rearranged the balance of the article in a more chronological order and eliminated redundant information that was presented as argument. I originally planned to post it here first, but the new material took up so much space that I just added it to the article. The changes are, I believe, consistent with the general consensus reached on the problems evident in the article -- nothing has been added or deleted that was not discussed on these discussion pages. Among the changes are the following:

  • eliminate Candenquist references which do not meet the standard of reliable sources (see [1]).
  • eliminate Burns reference (no page no.)
  • eliminated duplicate references to moving the 14 locomotives across country
  • elminated Crawn eyewitness section since it was entirely sourced by Candenquist
  • eliminated section Harpers abandoned and remaining locomotives dismantled at Martinsburg -- repititious and sourced entirely by a road marker
  • eliminate Delagrange reference and small largely repetitive section (The Martinsburg entrapment) about Jackson’s anticipation of vote on May 23
  • Combined all of the disputed material into one five paragraph section titled May 21, 1861 Raid.
  • Added a hatnote to make it clear that this is the only section disputed by Robertson. This issue has been confused both in the article and throughout these discussion pages.
  • eliminated footnotes and language describing Robertson’s merits
  • eliminated Aftermath subsection on Raid controversy section and incorporated Weber’s info in May 21, 1861 Raid section and Robertson’s account of Jackson’s movement to Martinsburg into its own subsection (Jackson’s move to Martinsburg) -- the account of these post May 23 events have not contested. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 12:58, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
I've done quick reading of the article and it appears the article now represents the event as something which has for many years been held forth as fact, but is now held in question by two reliable sources (Robertson and Farwell). It certainly looks and reads more like a wikipedia article than it did before this last set of edits by Tom. I suspect this article's going to end up as a source of endless controversy here on Wikipedia for many years to come, and may actually cause some author to do a book length treatment (I'm encouraging the otherwise qualified and readable GrayGhost01 to think seriously about this). I like what you've done, but I'd like to see page consensus develop on talk. I'm not sure we're done. BusterD (talk) 13:21, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
I'm not locked into any of the actual text. I just believe at this point further modifications of the article can be better handled by modifying the version I just created rather than trying to deal piecemeal with the existing version. I do think that there was a consensus that the existing language and some of the sources were unacceptable.
The problem with writing even a scholarly article promoting the Imboden version of the May 23 raid is that there are no newspaper articles, no written orders, no diary entries, no letters, and no railroad records indicating that it happened. For all the secondary sources cited that buy into the Imboden account, not one cites a single primary source that supports the view. Is it really believable that 56 trains were captured in one day and nothing about it was reported in a newspaper? Johnston actually arrived in Harper's Ferry on the 23rd while all this was supposed to be happening yet he doesn't mention it in his account of the war and his biographers don't mention it?
The remarkable part of the article are the events at Martinsburg and the crss country transport of the locomotives. All the fuss about May 23 and Jackson's alleged ruse detract from this part of the story. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 17:27, 2 December 2008 (UTC)

Proposal -- Renaming of Article[edit]

The name of the article, The Great Train Raid of 1861, is in violation of the naming conventions of the Military History Style Guide. The guide states here [2] the following:

An article should generally be placed at the most common name used to refer to the event (such as Battle of Gettysburg, Siege of Leningrad, Attack on Pearl Harbor, or Doolittle Raid). If there is no common name, the name should be a descriptive geographic term such as "battle of X" or "siege of Y", where X and Y are the locations of the operations; see also the section on capitalization. Non-neutral terms such as "attack", "slaughter", "massacre", or "raid" should be used with care.

There are numerous published, reliable secondary sources used in the article. None of them refer to the events in this article as any variation of “The Great Train Raid”. The name seems to come entirely from local material aimed at promoting tourism.

The article describes a series of specific events:

  • Jackson’s ploy that caused the RR bottleneck (disputed)
  • The May 23 raid (disputed)
  • The destruction of RR tracks throughout late May and June (disputed only in details and extent)
  • The destruction at Harper’s Ferry on June 14 (undisputed)
  • The destruction at Martinsburg (undisputed)
  • The transport of captured locomotives across country (undisputed)

By grouping all of these events together and calling them “The Great Train Raid of 1861”, something that no reliable secondary sources has done, we appear to be guilty of Original Research. A quick review of Google shows that right now Wikipedia seems to be the main promoter of this terminology.

I’m not sure the events even merit use of the term “raid”. The entire stretch of railroad subject to the article was within the state of Virginia (with the exception of Point of Rocks, Maryland). The May 23 incursion into Maryland could be termed a raid, I suppose, but everything else in the article relates to Virginia and/or CSA troops destroying and capturing private property within territory claimed by Virginia. Most of the actions were typical of what went on when either the CSA or Union were forced to abandon territory -- the removal and destruction of material so they could not be used by the enemy when it advanced.

I am suggesting that the lede be rewritten as follows with the bold text representing the new title for the article:

Confederate operations against the B & O Railroad in Harper’s Ferry and Martinsburg (May and June 1861) were aimed at disrupting a critical railroad used by the opposing Union Army as a major supply route and capturing the maximum number of locomotives and cars. During this point in the war, the state of Maryland's stance was not yet determined. The B&O Railroad, then owned by the state of Maryland, ran through Maryland and along the Potomac River Valley in its pass through the Appalachian Mountains, but took a crucial turn at Harpers Ferry and passed south, through Virginia and Martinsburg while crossing the Shenandoah Valley. The railroad then continued on through much of present-day West Virginia, which then was still part of Virginia, meaning that the railroad continued for a major portion of its route through a state which later seceded.

Many historians have written that the events began when the Virginia militia conducted a raid that started in western Virginia at the end of busy noontime traffic on May 23, 1861, [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] "the eve of Virginia's ratification of her secession ordinance", during the early days of the American Civil War. It was aimed at disrupting a critical railroad used by the opposing Union Army as a major supply route and capturing the maximum number of locomotives and cars. The latter goal was accomplished when Colonel Thomas Jackson convinced railroad officials to limit their passage through Virginia territory between the hours of 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.[6][7] Historian James I. Robertson Jr. contests this version of events. He denies that the raid occurred and questions whether the communication between Jackson and railroad officials ever happened. Robertson claims that historians who promote the accuracy of the raid place too much reliance on an 1885 account of the events written by General John D. Imboden, a source that Robertson considers to be unreliable.

In any event, from late May through June Confederate forces controlled the railroad and destroyed track and bridges throughout the Virginia portion of the railroad. Believing that Harper’s ferry was indefensible against a Union advance, General Joseph Johnston was given permission to abandon the post. As part of this retreat, a major bridge was destroyed at Harper’s Ferry and the railroad works at Martinsburg were destroyed. In a major engineering feat, fourteen locomotives from Martinsburg were disassembled and moved across country by horse drawn teams to Strasburg, Virginia. Eventually the locomotives were moved to Richmond where they were put to use by the Confederacy.

I would have no objection if at some point, either a final paragraph in the lede or at the end of the article, some reference be made that some local people refer to the events as the “Great Train Raid of 1861”.

Opinions? Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 16:52, 2 December 2008 (UTC)

Interesting. I had never noticed the idea that a raid (a legitimate term in military science) is considered non-neutral. Anyway, you use that term in the lead section. The sentence about "aimed..." is repeated. The use of five adjacent footnotes (or more than 1, actually) for a single phrase is not usually allowed in formal writing and we usually don't footnote lead sections anyway. I don't understand how a 'raid' could be accomplished by Jackson 'convincing' railroad officials to do something. Does Robertson dispute a military raid or Jackson's convincing or both? I think the article title change is a good one in concept. Hal Jespersen (talk) 19:51, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
The “aimed” comments do need to be corrected. As far as the excessive footnotes and use of the word “raid”, you are also correct -- I was trying as much as possible to retain the original text presented by Ghost, but we might as well do this thing right. My comments concerning whether “raid” is an appropriate term here was influenced by the Wikipedia article Raid (military) which seems to indicate that raids were generally behind enemy lines. Robertson does dispute that the raid occurred as described on May 23 since it violated Maryland territory before Virginia had officially seceded, especially since official Virginia policy, as enunciated by Lee, was to avoid any confrontation. Anything after May 23 would have likely been done under Johnston’s orders, not Jackson’s. Robertson also noted that there was no mention of the raid where it certainly should have been noted -- in the papers of William Prescott Smith, the master of transportation for the B & O during this time. Robertson also contests the “convincing officials” argument, claiming that it was a ruse that someone like B & O President Garrett would be unlikely to fall for. The choice for an alternative name for the article was modeled from a similar name here [3], specifically from “Jackson's Operations Against the B&O Railroad [January 1862]”. Anyway, I’ll make the suggested corrections after other folks have checked in. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 20:40, 2 December 2008 (UTC)

Northshoreman, your proposal is entirely out of line with the rest of Wikipedia, just like your original and provoking suggesting that the word "invade" cannot exist in any Civil War article or be used in any way (when in fact it is extant all over ACW articles speaking of both sides). The name of this affair hangs right in front of the train depot at Strasburg, as shown in the photograph in the article taken in August of 2008. It is the local name for the whole deal, and the point where all the "fictional" locomotives were re-tracked.

Great Train Raid.jpg

As you can plainly see the name of the affair in this photograph, clearly depicted in the article, and outside the Strasburg Museum, I believe you have seen this in the article. Therefore I question your motives. Grayghost01 (talk) 02:13, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

I have no reason to doubt the good-faith motives of User:North Shoreman. I do hold with Grayghost01 that the photograph outside the museum demonstrates reason why the article name should not be changed without further discussion. I have some serious issues with the convoluted music of the new name Tom suggests, which better represents a category. These arguments may not prove compelling to others. I'd like to hear more sourcing in favor of the existing title. BusterD (talk) 03:13, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

I retract my questioning of Mr. Shoreman's motives. I put forward a lesser appeal that much of my valuable time is not well spent on wrangling over this affair, and renaming it. Given the photo that you see in Strasburg, Virginia, at the Train Depot Museum, where many of the Civil War Trails signs exist for this same raid, it has been ample and sufficient for the CWTrails organization, and for the proprieters of the museum. The affair has received a number of names, and I think its fair to add a section discussing the various names. To explain why I first created the page as it is, I preferred the obvious title as more fitting to all the same types of events against the B&O which were all raids. The esteemable Colonel Mosby conducted the Greenback Raid at practically the same location, just outside Martinsburg. Additionally, there are many other raids on the B&O, all separate events, for which more articles are forthcoming by yours truly. One is the "recovery" of the two AL&HRR locomotives at Leesburg, and their removal to the Manassas Gap Railroad. These and others comprise more than 100 raids total on the B&O, which the B&ORR, itself, called raids. This event here is specifically in regards to the taking of a total of about 67 locomotives, about 500 railcars, and the subsequent removal of a total of 19 locomotives. All this was collected in Martinsburg, VA specifically, having been cutoff between Point of Rocks and Cherry Run, and then collected. One locomotive, number 169 (see the Harpers woodcut in the article) was stranded on the north end of the W&PRR and run into the river a few days after the Harpers main bridge was dropped. Any reader of Robertson knows that Robertson admits the raid as having happened about 15 pages later in his book, after he mysteriously knocks on Imboden. Robertson never dates or guesses the date of Imboden's small quip on this affair, and so his statement about Imboden seems centered just on Imboden, not the raid. Robertson recounts the entire affair on page 245-246, even covering the events of Captain Sharp collecting 13 (a miscount by Robertson, who was sloppy in his study) locomotives, of 56 locomotives and 305 cars total. Thus there it is. Robertson never explains how this mass of trains came to suddenly be there, but who am I, a mere plebe, to question Robertson? Other historians have pinned the collection to May 23rd, having NOTHING to do with Imboden's account, because Imboden gives no date whatsoever of the initial seizure. Then there's Shriver's account (see the references) a golden nugget of history well preserved from the late 1800's periodical. Other suggested names are intentionally whimsical, such as "Confederates Gather Steam" and "Great Train Robbery" or "Stealing Railroad Engines" and do not meet the Wiki typical title format. But as shown above, the use of the word "raid" is well established (demonstrating Northshoreman's incorrect assertion) and given the local name, per the photo ... you have the obvious name. Most of the other raid articles (to come) will also be called raids. Raid is a category of name, JUST like a skirmish, a battle, a campaign. Raid is a neutral military term. Invade is too, but we'll be getting back to that later, after I've collected 1,000 citations of civil war historians using that word for both USA and CSA actions, which may be in an article all to itself: Invasions of the Civil War? I've collected about 150 citations so far. You'll be fascinated to see the trend of situations they are clearly and mostly applied to. Perhaps the page is best treated as a list? In the meantime, I have set this article aside in my sandbox, as 150 referenced citations and write up of just the first half wore me out. I am busy fixing and organizing the CS Navy, its officers, its ships, its school and so on. This area needs a lot of work. Grayghost01 (talk) 03:53, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

BusterD -- You state that you would “like to hear more sourcing in favor of the existing title.” I also would like to see a published, peer-reviewed, reliable source that uses something approaching the name “Great Train Raid of 1861”. Ghost’s lengthy reply provides no such sources -- instead he uses the forum for yet more criticism of Robertson.
My suggested title may not be “musical” (I never could carry a tune), but it is the most accurate title I can come up with considering the actual scope of the article. Above I identified six specific events that are integral parts of this article. Since there are apparently no reliable sources that actually associate the exiting name with these specific events, it is impossible to determine what events constitute “The Great Train Raid” and which simply represent events that occurred before or after the Raid.
If we use the sign as a reliable source, it suggests that the raid is limited to the events after June 18 (when Jackson arrived in Martinsburg) when it says, “Jackson captured engines from Martinsburg, W. VA”. Of course these events are exactly what is covered by Robertson, yet Ghost mockingly writes, “Robertson never explains how this mass of trains came to suddenly be there.” So, according to the sign, are the events occurring on May 23 some different event? How could trains be captured in May, moved to Martinsburg after the capture, and then captured again after June 18?
The bottom line is that the sign has little or no value in defining and naming the events covered in this article. I have no problem waiting for a few days to see if someone comes up with a few reliable source that use the term “The Great Train Raid”. I would hope that when such sources do not materialize you will agree that a different name is needed for the article. It may be the POV of a few people in northwest Virginia that these events warrant a grandiose name, but it is not a POV shared by any of the reliable sources cited in this article. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 12:32, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
PS You may wish to get Gwen back involved in this. Here analysis of the situation located here [4], if I am reading it right, does suggest a problem with the title of the article when she wrote, “Going by the sources, the historical title Great Train Raid of 1861 is a bit misleading, stems from Imboden and more likely has to do with a skeinish series of military events along the B&O railroad in later May and June of 1861.” Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 13:21, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

Northshoreman, I can also list out dozens of ACW articles with page titles that are not "peer reviewed" etc, etc, etc. You are generally grasping at straws, as most (all) of your arguments are easily disproven by going to other areas in Wiki not adhering to your suggestions. The Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse covers a month, and so a composite events over weeks is easily demonstrated in other military history articles, like the Air raids on Japan for instance. Air raids on Australia, 1942-43, like the Japan deal, doesn't have any "book" or "peer review" created title. Your arguments don't hold water. Grayghost01 (talk) 03:34, 4 December 2008 (UTC)

You need to focus on what the relevant issues being discussed are. I’m pretty sure that there are published, reliable, peer reviewed books and journal articles that discuss in detail, and use the actual terms, Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse and Air Raids on Japan. Without even looking at the article Air raids on Australia, 1942-43 I can guess that the editors didn’t just pull the title off of a sign in front of a former railroad station. I can also tell, from reliable sources, the exact duration of the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse or the Air Raids on Japan -- can’t do that with The Great Train Raid of 1861 because the term apparently never appears in such reliable sources.
Let me repeat the guidelines from the Military Style Guide for naming articles:
An article should generally be placed at the most common name used to refer to the event (such as Battle of Gettysburg, Siege of Leningrad, Attack on Pearl Harbor, or Doolittle Raid). If there is no common name, the name should be a descriptive geographic term such as "battle of X" or "siege of Y", where X and Y are the locations of the operations; see also the section on capitalization. Non-neutral terms such as "attack", "slaughter", "massacre", or "raid" should be used with care.
Our task here, since there is “no common name” used to describe the events in the article is to come up with a name that is a “descriptive geographic term.” Great Train Raid is not commonly used in any of the reliable sources cited in this article and is not a geographically descriptive term. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 12:54, 4 December 2008 (UTC)

Northshoreman, when I read the same words you quote, I read should generally. Do you see those words? What I don't read is should absolutely. The Air raids on Australia, 1942-43 is but one of dozens ... no, rather, hundreds of Wiki articles which have gone a different route that what you recommend. Furthermore the air raids on Australia does not center on a specific event, like the Great Train raid. Additionally, the Great Train Raid is a local moniker, and has precedence in use (see photo). Finally, you add that "attack" is an example of a "non-neutral" word. The word "attack" is used extensively in Wiki, and if your premise were true, most of Wiki would not non-neutral on military history. You have not made a single persuasive argument, and your assertion that the Boston Massacre, a military history article with the word massacre in it is somehow in violation of your personal "neutrality" rules is entirely invalid. But you did say "should be used with care", which is ... again ... another non-absolute, isn't it? Just like the guidance, right? I'm willing to hear your argument, but to me (and maybe it's just me?) I don't follow your logic at all. The Great Train Raid of 1861 is hanging in a big sign right there at the RR Depot. That's what all the tourists see when they come to see the site where the locomotives that Robertson says were taken on pages 245-246 were re-tracked. The ones which were also "totally fiction" just a few pages previously (almost the same number, too, I still can't figure that one out in Robertson's book). The most common name is clearly "Confederates Gather Steam", but to me ... using my "neo-confederate" Grayghost logic ... that seems too fanciful and is an intentionally flourished thing. What happened was the taking of locomotives, which anywhere and anytime it occurred elsewhere in the ACW it was almost always called a raid, such as the Greenback Raid for instance. In fact, ANYTIME property was confiscated in some isolated area, it was often called a raid in the ACW and still is in the military to this very day. Beefsteak Raid for instance? There is just too much logic, evidence, use of the name, and precedence in Wiki that goes against what you are proposing. I consider the matter closed. Grayghost01 (talk) 01:17, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

More of the same. Since you consider the matter closed, it seems safe to conclude that you are not aware of any reliable secondary source that uses the term Great Train Raid. Your focus on the word "raid" seems to be nothing but obfuscation -- focusing on one word in the title while ignoring the bigger picture.
Statements by you such as "You have not made a single persuasive argument, and your assertion that the Boston Massacre, a military history article with the word massacre in it is somehow in violation of your personal "neutrality" rules is entirely invalid" is wrong on so many levels, but it typifies the type of personal attacks that you engage in. Of course, I have no problems with the use of Boston Massacre -- it is a commonly accepted term that is supported by numerous reliable sources and your charge that I have ever disputed the use of the phrase is a deliberate falsehood. This discussion is not based on my "personal 'neutrality' rules" -- it is based on the Military Manual of Style. As far as failing to make "a single persuasive argument", there should be nothing more persuasive than the insistence that wikipedia articles rely exclusively on reliable sources. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 14:04, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

Possible titles[edit]

Would this abbreviated version of NorthShoreman's title work?

A. Confederate operations against the B & O Railroad (May and June 1861)

alternatively...

B. Confederates loot B & O Railroad


...perhaps the latter would also satisfy Ghost? The title does not attempt to define a singular event nor does it disqualify one. Comments?
⋙–Berean–Hunter—► ((⊕)) 14:46, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

To stir up some thought:

  • Harper’s Ferry and Martinsburg train raids
  • 1861 train raids at Harper’s Ferry and Martinsburg
  • Confederate train raids at Harper’s Ferry and Martinsburg
  • B&O train raids at Harper’s Ferry and Martinsburg
  • Rebs nick trains from Abe's buds, forget tracks

Keep it short (as can be) though. Gwen Gale (talk) 16:31, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

Of the above, my first choice is Confederate operations against the B & O Railroad (May and June 1861). The problem with the use of raid is the fact that both Harper's Ferry and Martinsburg were already in Confederate/Virginia possession when the destruction occurred. The actual act of confiscating material within an area you already control can certainly be termed a raid (i.e. police raiding a drug house), however this is different from the traditional military usage of the term. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 17:12, 5 December 2008 (UTC)


  • 1861 Harper’s Ferry and Martinsburg train confiscations

Gwen Gale (talk) 18:46, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

  • Jackson's railroad operations (Spring 1861) BusterD (talk) 19:19, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
Given Tom doesn't like the word raid (for the understandable reasons he gave), that may be the closest fit yet, BusterD. Gwen Gale (talk) 20:17, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
There already are five campaigns with similar names about railroads, shown at right. I would suggest that you call this article Jackson's operations against the B&O Railroad (1861) and rename the existing campaign to add "(1862)". Hal Jespersen (talk) 22:34, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
I think we have a name I can get behind. Treating this subject like a campaign offers the advantage of breaking the May 23 event as a separate article at some point in pagespace development. BusterD (talk) 22:41, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
Support. ⋙–Berean–Hunter—► ((⊕)) 05:09, 6 December 2008 (UTC)
Support, see my note below. Gwen Gale (talk) 05:12, 6 December 2008 (UTC)
Support - Finally, a decent name. Perhaps we can use it and finish this all off! Skinny87 (talk) 14:03, 6 December 2008 (UTC)
Comment - To be clear, I was not suggesting making this a campaign, just proposing an agreeable name. All of the campaigns in this list of boxes had at least one battle in them, which should be the minimum requirement to achieve the status of campaign. To answer a point in the hurricane of words below, these navbars were not created on a whim, but by applying the NPS/ABPP/CWSAC campaign organization. If there are minor inconsistencies between the wordings, you can point to those folks, but they probably had their reasons. And it's perfectly legitimate to have a campaign that consists of wide movements, but ends up with only one battlefield worth describing, which after all was the purpose of the ABPP research effort. Another point in response is that the ACW is arguably the most documented war in history--over 60,000 books have been written so far. Therefore, it isn't appropriate to compare source requirements for Wikipedia ACW articles to every other war in history. We have a much richer collection of secondary sources from which to choose and can insist on the highest standards. Hal Jespersen (talk) 00:00, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
Support Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 12:20, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

Okay, Hal ... you're a reasonable guy. Given the 60,000 books perhaps someone can name a Campaign that was composed of one raid ... what peer-reviewed secondary source official name of a Campaign composed of one raid is there? I respectfully argue that this is a continued hypothetical argument. And ... while invoking the NPS as the guideline here ... the NPS calls the Battles of Manassas such. Since we do not follow that guideline, what is the justification to invoke it here? Let's consult the dictionary:

  • Campaign (dictionary.com) - military - Obsolete. the military operations of an army in the field for one season. (i.e. this was the ACW era use).
  • Campaign - today's use - the military operations of a Joint Task force for a sustained and completed series of operations in a theater of war. Recognized by the issuing of a Campaign Service medal, such as the Southwest Asia Service Medal for Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield and the intervening 7 battles, see Gulf War.

GTR-1861 does not meet the definition of a campaign. How about a Military expedition involved in Expeditionary warfare? "the organization of a nation's military to fight abroad, especially when deployed to fight away from its established bases at home or abroad." Nope, GTR-1861 is not that either.

Hmmm. How about a raid (military)? - "A raid can refer to either a military tactic, or a larger Grand Tactical or Operational warfare mission which require the execution of a plan where surprise is the principal desired outcome of the attack." Ooohhh. That's square on! This article goes on to say: "The purposes of a raid may include:"

  • to ransack or pillage a location
  • to obtain property or capture people
  • to destroy goods or other things with an economic value

Oh my goodness!! Wow!! Look at that! Look what it says on Raid (military)! Who would have known that? Okay, let's compare this to GTR-1861: Check, check and .... check. It's a Raid folks. What about that. And who made the article with that "non-neutral" name? Good ole wiki. Now, don't forget the Campaign with one raid example. I need to see that one, as seeing is believing. In all sincerity, (It's a happy day: Navy-34 and Army-0, the mule has been whipped.) Grayghost01 (talk) 02:25, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

I am not supporting or opposing the use of the word campaign in conjunction with this article. I'm merely suggesting a name that is similar in style to other usage within ABPP and Wikipedia. Don't get too excited over the ABPP classification--of the 124 groupings of battles, only 33 of these are actually labeled as campaigns. It was the early Wikipedians who came up with a template called Campaignbox who injected this term into the discussion, although rarely into the text of the articles themselves. The ABPP classification of which battles are important, how they're named, and how they're grouped was a valuable starting point for Wikipedia--predating my contributions--but variations have occurred over the years as editors have made reasoned arguments and achieved community consensus. Battle names and spellings have been clarified, groupings have been collapsed, and new battles have been added, although I'd guess we're still about 95% in agreement with the ABPP list. I'd suggest that, for the sanity of those interested in this article, that the fiftieth iteration of arguments over Bull Run vs. Manassas be taken over to Talk:First Battle of Bull Run. Hal Jespersen (talk) 17:39, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

Again, this is all apples to oranges. (a) The GTR has a name (see photo). (b) The GTR is centered exclusively around a particular and singular major event unlike any of the examples above. Therefore it is not comparable to the above "campaign" boxes. Additionaly, the original premise was that "Raid" is a non-neutral term, and we have entirely shown that assertion to be not in line with Wiki norms, and the above Navbars are yet further evidence of that. The GTR was not a campaign. It was not a series of events. It was a one-time entrapment of locomotives in a railyard. The aftermath is all in regards to moving them out of there. It's that simple. Again, this was not a campaign, this was a singular event. The comparisons made above are flat out incorrect. The name is given, and even shown in the photo. Many of the raid articles listed above have no "peer reviewed" sources. Therefore, leave the article alone. 50 people voting to change it does not alter the facts I have laid out. The main and one-and-only book used supposedly "against" this gives NO DATE whatsoever for Imboden's short description, and so cannot now be used as an argument against breaking this down into a series of many pages. There is no logic in a series of pages, as there is no secondary sources which describe each and every event separately. The entire affair is always treated, together, as a single whole ... in every magazine article ... in every railroad history book ... in every source. A campaign is planned out as such ... this was not. A campaign occurs as a series of events moving along geographical space, and this is all in one location. Nothing about this, whatsoever, qualifies it as either a campaign or an expedition. If it occured spread out over a distance, it would at least be an expetionary raid, but it is not even that. It is not a plurality of "raids". It is not a military operation, as it doesn't seem to have had any military operational planning to it (none documented). Lastly, Northshoreman's constant and circular re-defining of raids is irrational, as one can always produce many examples which contradict his assertions, such as saying that "The problem with the use of raid is the fact that both Harper's Ferry and Martinsburg were already in Confederate/Virginia possession when the destruction occurred" after which he then says the opposite "The actual act of confiscating material within an area you already control can certainly be termed a raid". Particularly comical is all the ACW navbars using "raid" ... the supposed non-neutral word banned by Wiki guidance. Also how many "Jackson's operations against the B&O (date)" are you going to have? Five? Six? Ten? Twenty? There were more than that, and no article in ACW covers every individual raid Jackson performed against either the B&O, nor the C&O canal. Then what's next after that ... Jackson's Operations against the W&P Railroad? (Multiple there). And how about Jackson's Operations against the Manassas Gap Railroad? Multiple there too. The concepts propose are illogical, and the event has a big name, in paint, at the Museum honoring the raid. You'll need to get used to it, like all the tourists do. I do not vote no. Rather, there is not enough compelling evidence in this instant-replay to overturn the original call of naming the raid according to the local signage. Then again ... since all the local signs in Virgina point the tourists to the Manassas Battlefield (not Bull Run), I can see why this crowd may be adamant on defending renaming Virgnia-based historical sites as a matter of policy ... a baseless policy. Grayghost01 (talk) 02:06, 6 December 2008 (UTC)

Manassas is a widely supported name, used in the southeastern US, for Bull Run (I can even remember getting them muddled when I first read at any depth about the US civil war). Likewise Civil war and War Between the States, both names are widely documented and supported. The two sides in a war wontedly call battles by different names, following their own outlooks on geography, culture and what has happened. As has been noted here many times, Great Train Raid of 1861 is more or less supported by a single sign on a train station and that sign seems to have been put up for tourists. Although I'll be happy and quick to help editors understand the many and sundry flaws to be found in academic peer review (the awareness of those flaws not being a go-ahead to throw about any codswallop one pleases), the reliable support for Great Train Raid of 1861 is less than thin.
Now that I'm up to speed on how the mil history project names articles, as an uninvolved admin who has been asked to look at this and give my input, I think Hal Jespersen's spin on Tom's title is by far the most helpful fit: Jackson's operations against the B&O Railroad (1861). I no longer have any worries about the title being too long, fussy or untidy. Gwen Gale (talk) 05:12, 6 December 2008 (UTC)

The issue here is that there is a complete lack of consistency with all the reasons being tossed out in the continual attacks on this article:

  • First, the use of the word "raid" is called non-neutral. That's false, because "raid" is used in dozens of article names and in thousands of article instances, and no issue of the common military term "raid" has ever been raised that I've ever seen in any history book, anywhere, obviously giving rise to it's extensive use in Wiki.
  • Then it's claimed the name is never used. That's false.
    • The museum photo of the RR depot and primary re-tracking site used in the raid is in the article.
    • It is also used in a Civil War video game
  • Then it's claimed that titles must can can only be peer-reviewed historical-book names. Thats also false, because clearly that is not a standard across wiki milhistory articles either. Many articles have names which do NOT come from peer-review historian book origins.
  • Then it's claimed that this was a campaign. Again, false. This was not a campaign.
  • Then it's claimed this is Jacksons "operations" against the B&O in 1861. Again false, because Jackson performed numerous raids on the B&O throughout that entire year, which have zero to do with this action. Then you would need an 1862 campaign, and then both would have to be expanded to be "campaigns" of about 100 assorted raids collectively, and a campaign is NOT a grouping of a CATEGORY of things anyway, so this proposal falls apart in multiple ways.
  • Then its proposed to be called Confederate operations against the B&O, etc. Again, of course, this is false because this was a Virginia Militia raid, not a Confederate Army operation. The Confederate Army only became involved at a later date, by subsuming the Virginia Militia.
  • Then it's claimed it can't be a raid because it is confiscating material you already control. Again ... as usual .. this is false, because the material was NOT in their control, it was the property of the B&O Railroad, and it was TAKEN. Having been taken, it was then either burned or moved AFTER it was in the hands of Virginia. ANY raid taking material takes material which is OUT of one's control and then puts it INTO one's control. Thus this reason is one of the most vividly irrational to be proposed and entirely devoid of logic.
  • Then it's claimed that it should be called "operations". This cannot even be reasonably evaluated, because "operations" is not defined. What is "operations"? Even the five NAVBARS of these other "campaigns" tossed out there are NOT CONSISTENT within themselves using:
    • Operations against
    • Raid on
    • Raid on
    • Raid and Operations against
    • Operations on
  • In the "campaign" navbars, when one opens them up, what is discovered? Why, Three of the five have ONLY ONE ARTICLE in the NAVBAR!!!! And the one with multiple entries (Early's) is simply his VALLEY CAMPAIGN of 1864! Thus the existence of three of these NAVBARS is completely suspect and likely need to be deleted for being one-article navbars. These NAVBARs were obviously made on a whim.

Finally, my sympathies for the lady who got lost in America looking for the Battle of Bull Run. That, by the way, is EXACTLY the reason I suggested NAMING THE WIKI ARTICLE IN ACCORDANCE WITH TOURIST SIGNAGE as used in Virginia. Why should thousands of tourists come to Virginia only to end up scratching their heads? By using Wiki (per the suggestions above), no one can find the "Battle of Bull Run" and no one will find the "Jackson's operations against the B&O (1861)" either. I wonder ... I wonder how many Wiki articles use tourism signage as names for articles?

So far I have seen zero plausible or logical explanation for renaming this article, other than the original wish to delete it entirely until I managed to get about half-way through it with citations. What happened to the guideline of verifiability? And is photographic evidence verifiable?

Grayghost01 (talk) 06:50, 6 December 2008 (UTC)

I continue my staunch position of NO CONFIDENCE in the pointless proposal, which creates an issue out of nothing, for no reason. The discussion only convinces me further why the name, per the sign, is succinctly appropriate, when it used the news article's name. The other common name, Great Train Robbery, also used of this, is already taken on Wiki. But there might be one name I'm game for: Rebs Rob the Road while Feds Fumble First Foray into Virginia in May 1861

Based on the consensus from above, I changed the article name and rewrote the lede based on a proposal I had made earlier. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 16:36, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

Grayghost campaigning[edit]

Grayghost appears to be trying to start a campaign of his own despite our guidelines against campaigning. Please see this improper solicitation. That, Ghost, is an example of a Campaign which should go down in history with only one event. Note Grayghost, "Inappropriate canvassing is generally considered to be disruptive." from WP:CANVAS#Inappropriate canvassing where campaigning is listed.
⋙–Berean–Hunter—► ((⊕)) 11:31, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

Here's a more straightforward diff, showing the edit was indeed made on en.Wikipedia.
It's only one note, though not in the least neutral, so it's somewhat astray. If User:Kresock shows up supporting Ghost's title editors can take that for what it's worth (not much). Gwen Gale (talk) 15:17, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
In regard to the blatantly unfair bashing of Kresock, he notified me that a game existed with this same title for the raid. I told him that hey, if he was neutral on it, to chime in. Thus the accusations above are completely false. Grayghost01 (talk) 03:46, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
No one is bashing Kresock...he hasn't done anything wrong and is a fine editor. The one who did something wrong is you. Your responses here on this page today amount to wikilawyering...and you aren't that good at it either. You make bogus points and will translate anything to suit your arguments (Oh look, it's one of those REF tag thingies..let's just add what we want to say there...I'm sure the author meant to say it even if he didn't and dammit we're gonna defend it as such.).
⋙–Berean–Hunter—► ((⊕)) 12:35, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

Your retitling of this page to a new and completely made up and fabricated title is wholly unjustified and without consensus, not to mention a violation of your own original claims against the first title, shown in the photograph at the museum where the raid occurred. Neither has anyone cared to discuss the situation, go through the questions, explain the terms or in any way academically or logically examine the subject. The deed reflects the character and approach of a very small group of editors wishing to ignore all agreed upon methodologies of Wiki.

Furthermore, as the editors changing the topic, you now incur upon yourselves the due diligence of compelting it such that it indeed contains all the operations of "Jackson" against the B&O in 1861, which are fairly numerous. This article contains one (singular).

Again, as a major contributor to this article, I do not consent to the name change, and you have not reached consensus to take this action. Therefore please undo your changes until proper discussion and resolution can be made. Thank you. Sincerely, Grayghost01 (talk) 03:39, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

Astounding. Yes. there is a consensus to change the name - look above, if it hasn't been archived. And it hasn't been discussed?!? This has been the longest and densest discussion on a talkpage I've seen short of the talkpages for the Holocaust and Holocaust Denial! There has been plenty of discussion on the issue, all the points have been examined in mind-numbing detail, and a consensus was formed. Skinny87 (talk) 10:38, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
Page consensus, or rough consensus refers to apparent agreement, based on both the quantity and quality of assertions on multiple sides of the discussion, as determined by talk page discussion. Usually, by quantity, page consensus is an undetermined percentage which falls in the 60%-90% range, but since the quality of arguments also weighs heavily, the voting percentage should not be over-valued. If each of us was to write our own view of consensus demonstrated here, it's likely that each one would read differently. Mine would read something like this: "Virtually every recent contributor to the talk page discussion with the singular exception of Grayghost01, a major contributor to the pagespace, agrees with the name change. While page discussion was extensive, in the final result Grayghost01 was unable show sufficient citation to justify retention of 'Great Train Raid of 1861', and so the page was moved per clear agreement." Sorry dude, this is what consensus looks like. Bring better arguments or citations next time. Or, continue to build your case and re-present better citation when you're ready. Consensus sometimes shifts, and I for one would be willing to entertain more discussion if a book were to be published next week entitled: "The Great Train Raid of 1861". Or a movie released. Or a popular novel. Then you'd have a chance. Right now your naming argument rests entirely on the museum sign. And the video game. BusterD (talk) 12:17, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
From Ghost..."The deed reflects the character and approach of a very small group of editors wishing to ignore all agreed upon methodologies of Wiki."
Stow it! You are out of line attempting to accuse others of deficient character. Remove the plank from your own eye before telling your brother about the speck of sawdust in his.
⋙–Berean–Hunter—► ((⊕)) 12:35, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
I was reading that myself and was about to comment. Smart people often disagree. It's one of the difficulties in taking on the mantle of adulthood that disagreements between otherwise trusted individuals need priority and perspective. In Wikipedia, participants agree to work by the rules, ignore the rules when necessary, but ultimately just get along with other participants. The conflict resolution structure is based on assessing agreement. I would like to second Berean Hunter's suggestion that you collect all your spite and anger, and delete it en-masse from the pedia. I have not been your enemy here, but this constant tar-brushing is past irritating--it's affecting the work of others on the project. In an encyclopedic setting, rabid partisanship can be useful for provoking thought and stimulating interest in pagespace, but let's face it: inherent bias doesn't and can't complete encyclopedic pagespace because bias represents an unbalancing force. A Featured-class wikipedia page must have been cleansed of bias during the editing process (otherwise it wouldn't have achieved FA status). Grayghost01, I call on you to stop the name calling and the labeling. You've presented your biases and incivility sufficiently. BusterD (talk) 12:55, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

Geographical Errors[edit]

I have noticed a couple of geographical errors in this section, which I describe below. I did not want to directly edit the page to make corrections for a couple of reasons. First of all, it is clear that these errors occur in sections that are already the subject of debate, and the errors might best be corrected in conjunction with other changes in those sections - I do not wish to add to the debate or confusion by making changes in these areas. Secondly, I am not sufficiently knowledgeable in the history involved here to be certain my changes would be correct in some cases, thus I feel it is better to point out the potential problems so that those who are more knowledgeable may either confirm and correct the problem or dismiss my suggestion as inaccurate. It is clear that there are several people actively working to improve this page, and I hope you find these notes helpful.

In the third paragraph of the section "May 23, 1861 Raid", Cherry Run is described as being at a bridge 32 miles east of Harper's Ferry. Cherry Run is west of both Harper's Ferry and Martinsburg. (32 miles east of Harper's Ferry along the Potomac is in the vicinity of Broad run near Ashburn, and the easternmost crossing of the Potomac by the B&O is at Harper's Ferry.) This appears to be just a typo.

In the second paragraph of the section "Jackson moves to Martinsburg", it is indicated that Jeb Stewart was in Martinsburg, "20 miles south" of Winchester. Martinsburg is 20 miles north of Winchester. Because of the historical context here, I cannot determine whether it is the city names that are transposed or the direction.

MarkINFD (talk) 03:19, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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  1. ^ Stover, p.103, indicates noontime on May 23, 1861
  2. ^ Johnston, p.23, says Colonel Jackson of the Virginia Militia, under the authority "by Governor Letcher" executed the initial actions of the affiair "on the eve of Virginia's ratification of her secession ordinance"
  3. ^ Henderson similarly points out the actions to seize the railroad occur just prior to pointing out Johnston's takeover on May 24, which is assumably May 23
  4. ^ John Garrett, President of the B&O acknowledges in his annual report the actions shut down the railroad in May, giving the 28th of May as a date
  5. ^ John D. Imboden, p.123 doesn't give a date, but rather says it happened "one night, as soon as the schedule was working at its best"
  6. ^ Imboden, p.123
  7. ^ Candenquist, Civil War Magazine