Friday, August 29, 2008

Where was Butler's rail extension?

Thinking about the possible routes Lincoln may have taken through Annapolis, guided by Captain Blodgett, it has been suggested that perhaps they followed the route of the railroad extension laid down by General Benjamin Butler in 1861. Butler arrived in Annapolis on the heels of the Baltimore riot and was keen to establish a better connection between Washington and points north. In 1861 the Annapolis & Elkridge Railroad terminated in Annapolis at the corner of Calvert and West Streets. Butler seized control of the railroad and laid an extension from the depot at Calvert and West to the waterfront on the Naval Academy grounds.

When I began to look into this it quickly became apparent that no one was really sure what route Butler's rail extension took. One of the first documents to shed light on this was a claim from the city of Annapolis for damages to streets caused by Butler's rail extension. This document is in the National Archives and is transcribed here:
City of Annapolis, claim against U.S. for damage to streets from Gen Butler’s railroad extension, 1861 (NARA, RG92, Consolidated Correspondence File, “Annapolis”)

The United States [Dv?]
1861 [Lo?] Corporation of Annapolis

For Damages to Public Streets by the Military Railroad laid down therein.
For obstructions in Calvert Street $500.00
“ do in North West do “300.00
“ Taking out pump and closing well in North West St “150.00
“ Obstructions in Carroll and Bladen Streets “300.00
“ do in Tabernacle do “500.00
The above estimate is based upon the supposition that the use of these streets by the RailRoad will be temporary and includes amount necessary to put them in the condition they were before their occupation if it is to be permanent the Corporation reserves to itself the right to claim damages therefor.

Annapolis June 11th 1861
The undersigned appointed by the Corporation of Annapolis to estimate the damages to the streets by the RailRoad laid therein by the United States Government certify that they consider the above a fair and just estimate of said damages.

John R. Magruder
James Munroe
Joshua Brown
Solomon Phillips

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