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RE: [civilwarwest] Tunnel Hill

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  • Tom Mix
    Steve, Wow!! Now that is fascinating and thanks for taking the considerable time it must have taken to piece this together. But I have a feeling it was a
    Message 1 of 24 , Sep 8, 2007
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      Steve,

      Wow!!

      Now that is fascinating and thanks for taking the considerable time it must have taken to piece this together. But I have a feeling it was a “labor” of love as you seem to be quite knowledgeable about this and, as most of us can testify in such cases, it is a joy to discuss for you.

      Thanks again, I learned a lot.

      Tom

       

      -----Original Message-----
      From: civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com [mailto:civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Steve Hall
      Sent: Saturday, September 08, 2007 11:50 PM
      To: civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [civilwarwest] Tunnel Hill

       

      Bill,

          First of all, I am honored that you think I am a Colonel, but I have never been in the military myself, I came of age just after Jimmy Carter was president and there wasn't any future in the military.  I am commander of the Lt. Col. William Luffman Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

       

          I have answered this very same question many times today at our annual Battle of Tunnel Hill as I conducted tours through the tunnel.  Gen. Johnston reportedly requested that the tunnel be destroyed to prevent the Union armies from attacking into Georgia.  Gov. Joe Brown of Georgia was dead set against it, after all, Georgia had spent a lot of money and time in building the tunnel.  Pres. Davis also vetoed the idea because he knew that to blow the tunnel meant giving up Tennessee forever because without either this railroad, or the Mississippi, no Confederate army could ever operate in Tennessee for any length of time.  Other than a few raids or short term campaigns, there would be no way to supply any force of any size in Tennessee.  This is the SAME conclusion that the Union army had come to in 1862, but their targets were the bridges along the same railroad in a raid which came to be known as The Great Locomotive Chase. 

       

          One question which also comes up is whether or not the tunnel could have been blown.  This is due to the construction of the tunnel itself.  The walls of the tunnel, in most places, is over three feet thick, with the roof being just over two feet thick.  I say in most places because there are some places where the walls are actually the native rock with NO lining at all, and in one 65 foot long area, the native rock composes the sides and roof of the tunnel, with nothing to hold up the mountian but the rock itself.  It would have taken a very large explosion to damage the tunnel due to the construction methods used with interlocking layers of rock and brick throughout the structure.  Add to this the fact that the timbers used in the construction were left behind the walls, you can still see some of the timbers through some of the holes in the wall!  The walls are so thick that I can reach through these holes and not touch the timbers! 

       

          As for blasting the tunnel at both ends, this would not have been the way to destory the tunnel anyway.  The ends of the tunnel, if blown, could be cleaned up fairly easily just by removing the material.  The top of the tunnel has little overburden at the ends of the tunnel and this could be easily removed.  A blast at the west end of the tunnel would also not have much effect since the mountain behind the walls is made up mostly of rock.  A blast here would mostly go out of the tunnel with the structure suffering little damage.  Now, an explosion on the east end of the tunnel, at least 100 foot inside, up to about 500 foot from the east end, could have done some major damage to the tunnel itself due to the fact that the material behind the walls here is made up mostly of loose dirt and clay.  If the blast could collaps the structure of the tunnel, then a lot of material would collapes into the tunnel, possibly leading to a cascade effect  bringing down about 900 foot of the tunnel, more than half way through.  The problem with this is that this type of soil is easy to dig through to rebuild the tunnel.  When building the tunnel, they started working from both ends of the mountain, and in just under 22 months, had the entire tunnel built.  They only dug in 575 feet from the west end, but 902 feet from the east.  The 22 month period includes all of the construction of the tunnel itself, and not just the digging.  The digging only took 15 months.  This sounds like a long time in terms of the war, but repair of the tunnel would not have taken near as long since they could start digging the estimated 900 foot for the repairs from both ends, cutting the time in half right there.  Add to this that most, if not all, of the walls of the tunnel would have been still standing, since it is highly likely that the roof is the only part heavily damage by the blast.  Judging from the progress made in the original constuction, the time to repair would be down to about 5.5 o 6 months, tops.  When your factor in that the rock used in the construction/ reconstruction of the tunne would already be on site for the most part, bring this down to about 4.5 months, and with the advances made in the art of tunneling since construction, 3 months would not be a bad estimate for repairs under this worse case scenario.  With the engineers working with the Union armies by this time, and I would bet they had already figured on this possibility and had already been working on a plan to repair the tunnel if necessary, it might have taken 1.5 to 2 months to repair. 

       

          As for how much this would have slowed Sherman down, I doubt it would have effected him too much in the long run.  If the tunnel was blown before the end of April, he could have launched his attacks in the same way, attacking Johnston's supply line at Resaca, but shifting more of his troops in the Dalton area to the east to be supplied down the East Tennessee and Virginia railroad which ran from Cleveland to Dalton.  I would bet that blowing the tunnel would simply have delayed him a few weeks while rail was brought in to complete the track from Chattanooga to Cleveland Tenn. over the East Tennesse and Virginia line which had been contructed up there, but which had never received the rails due to the intervention of the war.  He would not have even had to track the entire line, especially the part through the other tunnel up in Missionairy Ridge since they could have simply tied that line into the existing W & A line which went around the northern end of the ridge.  That entire line had already been graded and only needed rails, and Sherman had excellent railroad repair crews standing by for his attack on Johnston. 

       

          Sorry about this being so long, but when I get started about the tunnel, it is hard to stop, just ask the hundreds that I spoke to today and yesterday, we had over 1000 4th and 5th graders up there yesterday morning, and at least 3 to 4 thousand specatators and reenactors up there today (Saturday).  Finished the last tour after 10:00 p.m. tonight!

       

      Steve Hall - Commander
      Lt. Col. William Luffman Camp #938
      Sons of Confederate Veterans
      Chatsworth, Georgia

      ----- Original Message -----

      Sent: Saturday, September 08, 2007 11:53 PM

      Subject: [civilwarwest] Tunnel Hill

       

      A burning question I have had for some time and have not been able
      to get a satisfactory answer: why was the RR tunnel at tunnel not
      destroyed and how would it have affected the Atlanta campaign if it
      had been?

      I broached this subject earlier with this group and the subject
      quickly turned to the question of if it could be destroyed. I hope
      that Col. Hall may be able to shed light on this.

      What affect would a train load of black powder set off with both
      ends of the tunnel tightly closed. I can't help but believe that the
      destruction of this tunnel would have delayed Sherman's offensive by
      some time (months maybe).

      Bill Bruner

    • James W. Durney
      Steve, thank you for that essay on Tunnel Hill. This type of answer is what makes ACW groups worthwhile. James
      Message 2 of 24 , Sep 9, 2007
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        Steve, thank you for that essay on Tunnel Hill. This type of answer is
        what makes ACW groups worthwhile.

        James
      • oneplez
        ... wrote: Steve! Fine answer. I ve often wondered why the Tunnel wasn t blown. I assumed maybe black powder technology wasn t sufficient. You cleared it up.
        Message 3 of 24 , Sep 11, 2007
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          --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Steve Hall" <Tunnelhill@...>
          wrote:

          Steve! Fine answer. I've often wondered why the Tunnel wasn't blown.
          I assumed maybe black powder technology wasn't sufficient.

          You cleared it up. You ought to stick this in the "Files"

          Thanks


          Don
        • Steve Hall
          We are continuing to learn more and more about the tunnel. It is surprising how the understanding of something that has not changed in 150 years will change
          Message 4 of 24 , Sep 11, 2007
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            We are continuing to learn more and more about the tunnel.  It is surprising how the understanding of something that has not changed in 150 years will change as we learn more about it.  One of the biggest shocks to me, after several years of work up there, came the first time I walked through the tunnel with a group.  Every other trip had been alone or with one or two others.  I had already learned about the mountain being made up of two different types of soil/rock, but walking through with a group I learned for the first time that there is a heavy echo on the western end of the tunnel, but pass the center of the tunnel and the echo disappears! 
             
            Steve Hall - Commander
            Lt. Col. William Luffman Camp #938
            Sons of Confederate Veterans
            Chatsworth, Georgia
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: oneplez
            Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2007 11:00 AM
            Subject: [civilwarwest] Re: Tunnel Hill

            --- In civilwarwest@ yahoogroups. com, "Steve Hall" <Tunnelhill@ ...>
            wrote:

            Steve! Fine answer. I've often wondered why the Tunnel wasn't blown.
            I assumed maybe black powder technology wasn't sufficient.

            You cleared it up. You ought to stick this in the "Files"

            Thanks

            Don

          • Steve Hall
            Well, Come up to Tunnel Hill sometimes and see the site for yourself! It is hard not to fall in love with a structure that has shaped all of north Georgia,
            Message 5 of 24 , Sep 11, 2007
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              Well,
                  Come up to Tunnel Hill sometimes and see the site for yourself!  It is hard not to fall in love with a structure that has shaped all of north Georgia, and even help shape the nation, as much as this one has.  As late as WW I, this was such a vital part of our country, that over 30,000 men passed through it on their way to Savanna to board ships for Europe.  I haven't gotten into the new tunnel's influence as much, but I do know that the Western and Atlantic is the busiest single track line in the nation today! 
                  If you really want an experience, be inside the old tunnel when a train passes through the new one!  It is an experience you will never forget, and is not what you would expect!
               
              Steve Hall - Commander
              Lt. Col. William Luffman Camp #938
              Sons of Confederate Veterans
              Chatsworth, Georgia
              ----- Original Message -----
              From: Tom Mix
              Sent: Sunday, September 09, 2007 1:13 AM
              Subject: RE: [civilwarwest] Tunnel Hill

              Steve,

              Wow!!

              Now that is fascinating and thanks for taking the considerable time it must have taken to piece this together. But I have a feeling it was a “labor” of love as you seem to be quite knowledgeable about this and, as most of us can testify in such cases, it is a joy to discuss for you.

              Thanks again, I learned a lot.

              Tom

               

              -----Original Message-----
              From: civilwarwest@ yahoogroups. com [mailto:civilwarwes t@yahoogroups. com] On Behalf Of Steve Hall
              Sent: Saturday, September 08, 2007 11:50 PM
              To: civilwarwest@ yahoogroups. com
              Subject: Re: [civilwarwest] Tunnel Hill

               

              Bill,

                  First of all, I am honored that you think I am a Colonel, but I have never been in the military myself, I came of age just after Jimmy Carter was president and there wasn't any future in the military.  I am commander of the Lt. Col. William Luffman Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

               

                  I have answered this very same question many times today at our annual Battle of Tunnel Hill as I conducted tours through the tunnel.  Gen. Johnston reportedly requested that the tunnel be destroyed to prevent the Union armies from attacking into Georgia.  Gov. Joe Brown of Georgia was dead set against it, after all, Georgia had spent a lot of money and time in building the tunnel.  Pres. Davis also vetoed the idea because he knew that to blow the tunnel meant giving up Tennessee forever because without either this railroad, or the Mississippi, no Confederate army could ever operate in Tennessee for any length of time.  Other than a few raids or short term campaigns, there would be no way to supply any force of any size in Tennessee.  This is the SAME conclusion that the Union army had come to in 1862, but their targets were the bridges along the same railroad in a raid which came to be known as The Great Locomotive Chase. 

               

                  One question which also comes up is whether or not the tunnel could have been blown.  This is due to the construction of the tunnel itself.  The walls of the tunnel, in most places, is over three feet thick, with the roof being just over two feet thick.  I say in most places because there are some places where the walls are actually the native rock with NO lining at all, and in one 65 foot long area, the native rock composes the sides and roof of the tunnel, with nothing to hold up the mountian but the rock itself.  It would have taken a very large explosion to damage the tunnel due to the construction methods used with interlocking layers of rock and brick throughout the structure.  Add to this the fact that the timbers used in the construction were left behind the walls, you can still see some of the timbers through some of the holes in the wall!  The walls are so thick that I can reach through these holes and not touch the timbers! 

               

                  As for blasting the tunnel at both ends, this would not have been the way to destory the tunnel anyway.  The ends of the tunnel, if blown, could be cleaned up fairly easily just by removing the material.  The top of the tunnel has little overburden at the ends of the tunnel and this could be easily removed.  A blast at the west end of the tunnel would also not have much effect since the mountain behind the walls is made up mostly of rock.  A blast here would mostly go out of the tunnel with the structure suffering little damage.  Now, an explosion on the east end of the tunnel, at least 100 foot inside, up to about 500 foot from the east end, could have done some major damage to the tunnel itself due to the fact that the material behind the walls here is made up mostly of loose dirt and clay.  If the blast could collaps the structure of the tunnel, then a lot of material would collapes into the tunnel, possibly leading to a cascade effect  bringing down about 900 foot of the tunnel, more than half way through.  The problem with this is that this type of soil is easy to dig through to rebuild the tunnel.  When building the tunnel, they started working from both ends of the mountain, and in just under 22 months, had the entire tunnel built.  They only dug in 575 feet from the west end, but 902 feet from the east.  The 22 month period includes all of the construction of the tunnel itself, and not just the digging.  The digging only took 15 months.  This sounds like a long time in terms of the war, but repair of the tunnel would not have taken near as long since they could start digging the estimated 900 foot for the repairs from both ends, cutting the time in half right there.  Add to this that most, if not all, of the walls of the tunnel would have been still standing, since it is highly likely that the roof is the only part heavily damage by the blast.  Judging from the progress made in the original constuction, the time to repair would be down to about 5.5 o 6 months, tops.  When your factor in that the rock used in the construction/ reconstruction of the tunne would already be on site for the most part, bring this down to about 4.5 months, and with the advances made in the art of tunneling since construction, 3 months would not be a bad estimate for repairs under this worse case scenario.  With the engineers working with the Union armies by this time, and I would bet they had already figured on this possibility and had already been working on a plan to repair the tunnel if necessary, it might have taken 1.5 to 2 months to repair. 

               

                  As for how much this would have slowed Sherman down, I doubt it would have effected him too much in the long run.  If the tunnel was blown before the end of April, he could have launched his attacks in the same way, attacking Johnston's supply line at Resaca, but shifting more of his troops in the Dalton area to the east to be supplied down the East Tennessee and Virginia railroad which ran from Cleveland to Dalton.  I would bet that blowing the tunnel would simply have delayed him a few weeks while rail was brought in to complete the track from Chattanooga to Cleveland Tenn. over the East Tennesse and Virginia line which had been contructed up there, but which had never received the rails due to the intervention of the war.  He would not have even had to track the entire line, especially the part through the other tunnel up in Missionairy Ridge since they could have simply tied that line into the existing W & A line which went around the northern end of the ridge.  That entire line had already been graded and only needed rails, and Sherman had excellent railroad repair crews standing by for his attack on Johnston. 

               

                  Sorry about this being so long, but when I get started about the tunnel, it is hard to stop, just ask the hundreds that I spoke to today and yesterday, we had over 1000 4th and 5th graders up there yesterday morning, and at least 3 to 4 thousand specatators and reenactors up there today (Saturday).  Finished the last tour after 10:00 p.m. tonight!

               

              Steve Hall - Commander
              Lt. Col. William Luffman Camp #938
              Sons of Confederate Veterans
              Chatsworth, Georgia

              ----- Original Message -----

              Sent: Saturday, September 08, 2007 11:53 PM

              Subject: [civilwarwest] Tunnel Hill

               

              A burning question I have had for some time and have not been able
              to get a satisfactory answer: why was the RR tunnel at tunnel not
              destroyed and how would it have affected the Atlanta campaign if it
              had been?

              I broached this subject earlier with this group and the subject
              quickly turned to the question of if it could be destroyed. I hope
              that Col. Hall may be able to shed light on this.

              What affect would a train load of black powder set off with both
              ends of the tunnel tightly closed. I can't help but believe that the
              destruction of this tunnel would have delayed Sherman's offensive by
              some time (months maybe).

              Bill Bruner

            • Bill Bruner
              ... it would have effected him too much in the long run. If the tunnel was blown before the end of April, he could have launched his attacks in the same way,
              Message 6 of 24 , Sep 11, 2007
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                > As for how much this would have slowed Sherman down, I doubt
                it would have effected him too much in the long run. If the tunnel
                was blown before the end of April, he could have launched his
                attacks in the same way, attacking Johnston's supply line at Resaca,
                but shifting more of his troops in the Dalton area to the east to be
                supplied down the East Tennessee and Virginia railroad which ran
                from Cleveland to Dalton. I would bet that blowing the tunnel would
                simply have delayed him a few weeks while rail was brought in to
                complete the track from Chattanooga to Cleveland Tenn. over the East
                Tennesse and Virginia line which had been contructed up there, but
                which had never received the rails due to the intervention of the
                war. He would not have even had to track the entire line,
                especially the part through the other tunnel up in Missionairy Ridge
                since they could have simply tied that line into the existing W & A
                line which went around the northern end of the ridge. That entire
                line had already been graded and only needed rails, and Sherman had
                excellent railroad repair crews standing by


                This seems to diminish the importance of the tunnel in the first
                place. If it was so easy to by-pass the Chatoogetta Mt. ( I hope I
                got that right) and connect to the Ga. and E. Tenn at Cleveland and
                thus Southward to Dalton and the W & A Southward to Atlanta.

                I am assuming that this analysis on my part is faulty. Otherwise
                they never would have gone to the great expense of building the
                tunnel and replacing it later with a new and improved one. I would
                love to be enlightened on this. I know I must be missing a key
                element to this problem.

                Bill Bruner
              • Steve Hall
                Bill, First of all, it is the Cheetogeeta mountain, but you are not the first to mix that one up! (G) (As a matter of fact, I was working as a Senator s
                Message 7 of 24 , Sep 11, 2007
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                  Bill,
                      First of all, it is the "Cheetogeeta" mountain, but you are not the first to mix that one up! (G)  (As a matter of fact, I was working as a Senator's Aide for Senator Steve Farrow when the resolution to sell the Tunnel to the city of Tunnel Hill was put through the Georgia General Assembly.  After the resolution passed the Senate, I went to the committee meeting over in the House which was hearing the resolution.  Rep. Greg Kinnamon was presenting the bill and he completely butchered the name, adding several syllables in the process.  One of the other representatives noticed this and, of course, had to ask him what the name of the mountain was.  This time it was different, so another rep. asked for the name again, and again it was different.  When the third rep. asked, he had me tell them so he could finish presenting the resolution, to a good laugh by all in attendance.)
                   
                      As for the bypassing of the tunnel and not building the new one, remember that the railroads are operated by different companies.  When it came time to build the new tunnel since the newer trains would no longer fit through the old one, there were actually two other routes through the area which could have been used if they had not been owned by other companies.  The one mentioned earlier, through Cleveland, Tenn., and the Central of Georgia route through Lafayette, Summerville, and Rome.  The W & A route was, except for the tunnel, the busiest and most direct of the three, so the Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis railway, which was leasing the W & A from the state of Georgia, spent the money to build the new tunnel.  This has paid off tremendously for that company, now part of the CSX family, in that the W & A is still the busiest single track line in the nation. 
                      The Central of Georgia line does not even exist any more, the tracks from Summerville to Rome have been pulled, and the track from Summerville to Chattanooga is only used for excusions by the Tennesse Valley Railroad and occassionally by some rail car enthusiest.  Today, due to the joint agreements by all railroads, any traffic by the Norfolk Southern, which operates the line over to Cleveland and then down to Dalton, is carried by CSX.  As a matter of fact, the tunnel at the northern end of Missionairy Ridge has also been abandoned to the use of the Tennessee Valley Railroad and Museum because it is also too small and the Norfolk Southern line shares right of way with CSX, which operates around the ridge on the original W & A line.
                      I guess what happened at Missionairy Ridge is a good example of how things have changed.  The W & A had built its line around the northern end of the ridges, through the only viable path for a railroad in avoiding any steep grades or expensive tunnels or cuts.  The East Tennessee and Virginia, when it tried to reach Chattanooga, had to build a bridge over the W & A, then build a tunnel through the ridge.  The two railroads would not share trackage or right of way, as they do today.  They were businesses which were in competition with each other and would not work together.  The same way of doing business was in effect in 1926 when the new tunnel was started.  The N, C, & St. L. did not want to pay the Central of Georgia to transports any of its cars around the tunnel, so it would rather build a new tunnel.
                   
                  Steve Hall - Commander
                  Lt. Col. William Luffman Camp #938
                  Sons of Confederate Veterans
                  Chatsworth, Georgia
                  ----- Original Message -----
                  Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2007 8:53 PM
                  Subject: [civilwarwest] Re: Tunnel Hill


                  > As for how much this would have slowed Sherman down, I doubt
                  it would have effected him too much in the long run. If the tunnel
                  was blown before the end of April, he could have launched his
                  attacks in the same way, attacking Johnston's supply line at Resaca,
                  but shifting more of his troops in the Dalton area to the east to be
                  supplied down the East Tennessee and Virginia railroad which ran
                  from Cleveland to Dalton. I would bet that blowing the tunnel would
                  simply have delayed him a few weeks while rail was brought in to
                  complete the track from Chattanooga to Cleveland Tenn. over the East
                  Tennesse and Virginia line which had been contructed up there, but
                  which had never received the rails due to the intervention of the
                  war. He would not have even had to track the entire line,
                  especially the part through the other tunnel up in Missionairy Ridge
                  since they could have simply tied that line into the existing W & A
                  line which went around the northern end of the ridge. That entire
                  line had already been graded and only needed rails, and Sherman had
                  excellent railroad repair crews standing by


                  This seems to diminish the importance of the tunnel in the first
                  place. If it was so easy to by-pass the Chatoogetta Mt. ( I hope I
                  got that right) and connect to the Ga. and E. Tenn at Cleveland and
                  thus Southward to Dalton and the W & A Southward to Atlanta.

                  I am assuming that this analysis on my part is faulty. Otherwise
                  they never would have gone to the great expense of building the
                  tunnel and replacing it later with a new and improved one. I would
                  love to be enlightened on this. I know I must be missing a key
                  element to this problem.

                  Bill Bruner

                • Dave Gorski
                  ... I would say that as far as I can tell you are the only one who calls it Cheetogeeta Mountain, pehaps you are just using a phonetic spelling. A Yahoo
                  Message 8 of 24 , Sep 12, 2007
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                    > First of all, it is the "Cheetogeeta" mountain, but you are not
                    >the first to mix that one up! (G)

                    I would say that as far as I can tell you are the only one who
                    calls it "Cheetogeeta Mountain,"
                    pehaps you are just using a phonetic spelling.

                    A Yahoo search provides no hits for that name, while a search for
                    Chetoogeta Mountain provides
                    145 hits. Four articles I have from the Daily Citizen News of Dalton
                    Georgia report the name of
                    the mountain as "Chetoogeta" as well. A typed page on the tunnel
                    that I picked up at Tunnel
                    Hill (back when the police dept. and town offices were in a trailer)
                    states that, "The tunnel goes
                    thru Chetoogeta Mountain." It should also be noted that the Tunnel
                    Hill Heritage Center also
                    states the name of the mountain that the tunnel goes through as
                    "Chetoogeta Mountain."

                    http://www.tunnelhillheritagecenter.com/tunnel.htm


                    Regards, Dave Gorski
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