Thursday, September 25, 2008

Property Seized for Gen. Butler's Extension of the A&E Railroad

Here is another interesting document from the records of the Quartermaster Corps at the National Archives. It is an 1868 letter to deputy Quartermaster General John C. McFerran from an agent and a clerk of his department regarding claims by Annapolis residents for property taken when General Butler extended the Annapolis & Elkridge Railroad line through town to the waterfront in 1861. Using the names of the property owners herein it is possible to recreate at least part of the route of Butler's railroad extension. The letter reads as follows:
January 25, 1868

Bvt. Brig. Genl. J. C. McFerran
Deputy Quartermaster General
Depot Quartermaster
Washington, D.C.


In obedience to your orders of 23d inst, we have the honor to submit the following report upon the claims of Catherine Miller, Mary Jane Cain, David S. Caldwell, E. W. Duvall, Wm. Brice and Mary Hayden for injury sustained in the removal of fences &c at Annapolis, Maryland.

In the latter part of April or May 1861, the United States through their its proper offices extended the track of the Annapolis and Elkridge railroad from the depot of said road in Annapolis to the Naval Academy in that city, and in so doing, occupied the property of the individual claimants, as shown on the plat furnished by them: which track was not removed until some time in May 1865.

After due examination we offer the following awards - to Catherine Miller-for rent of ground $3600 or $900 per year and for fencing, privy, &c $5000      to Mary Jane Cain-for rent of ground $600 or $150 per year and for fence & privy $2200      to William Brice-for rent of ground $600 or $150 per year and for fence & privy $2200      to Edwin W Duval, or the owner of the lot shown on the plat as belonging to him-for rent of ground $300 or 75/100 per year and for fence $1200. We learn tht this lot was sold in 1863 or 1864-- and to David S Caldwell-for rent of ground $19200 or $4800 per year and for fence $15100.

These awards for payment for fences and privies are recommended because the property was enclosed at the time the track was laid, and the owners had to restore their fences & privies when the track was removed.

We understand that the United States held possession of the Annapolis & Elkridge Railroad for about thirty days when it was restored to the company, but that the extension to the Naval Academy, passing over the property of the claimants, was used exclusively for the benefit of the United States until its removal, and not for the benefit of the Annapolis & Elkridge Railroad Co.

In making these awards, we have not taken into consideration any damages the claimants may have sustained by loss of the control of their property for the period specified - further than to allow a rent for the ground actually occupied, and payment for replacing fences and privies removed by the United States.

We feel unable to report what compensation Mary Hayden is entitled to for wharfage. She informed us that the wharf passed out of her possession in 1863, (her attorney states in May it was sold in May of that year) and that during her ownership it was used by the Govt for landing and shipping public property, and that from May 1861 to the period when the property passed out of her possession, she collected the customary wharfage for property passing over her wharf that belonged to individuals, but has not received compensation for the use made of it by the United States.

We respectfully suggest, that if the officers of the Quartermasters Department stationed at Annapolis, did use this wharf to any extent as claimed by Mrs. Hayden, that $15000 is a reasonable compensation therefor: and if the damages sustained by C Miller, MJ Cain, Wm Brice, EW Duvall and DS Caldwell by reason of the railroad passing so near their improvements, consisting of dwellings, outhouses &c and interfering with their occupancy, be taken into account, the amounts claimed by each respectively are in our opinion no more than an equitable compensation.

Very respectfully
Your obt servts

E. S. Allen
Wm. H. Salter


There are some interesting clues in this report aside from the obvious names of property owners who were affected by the rail extension. It mentions that the track was taken back up in May of 1865. Unfortunately there are no surviving local newspapers for that period other than The Crutch for the first two weeks of May. The Crutch - the weekly paper published at the hospital on the Naval Academy grounds - doesn't mention taking up the railroad tracks.

The report by Allen and Salter also states that the awards they recommend are for rent of the ground actually occupied by the tracks. From this we can infer that the larger awards were granted to property owners with the most track passing directly over their land rather than, say, those who suffered loss of business or other kinds of losses. In other words the awards are directly tied to the actual geography of General Butler's rail extension and can therefore tell us about the relative amounts that crossed each of these owners' property. This helps when considering the angles and approaches by which the rail extension may have traversed a given lot of land.

And then there is the intriguing case of Mary Hayden, who at the start of the Civil War owned the wharf on the Severn River at the end of Tabernacle Street (now College Avenue). More about her and what her wharf reveals about the A&E Railroad in the next blog post.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Benjamin Butler's Recollection

There is in the records of the National Archives the following letter, sent from Benjamin Butler to Montgomery C. Meigs, then still the Quartermaster General of the United States. It is Butler's recollection, some six years on, of the circumstances surrounding his acquisition of land for the extension of the Annapolis & Elkridge Railroad line through Annapolis to the Naval Academy wharf in April of 1861. It is an interesting piece of the story. The letter reads:
Washington, July 20, 1867

To the
Quartermaster General

When in command of the Department of Annapolis in April and May 1861 it became necessary to connect the Elkton [sic] and Annapolis Railroad by a temporary track with tide water at Severn river.

You will remember that at this time this was the only Railroad Communication with Washington - the bridges at Gunpowder creek, between Baltimore and Havre de Grace having been burned.

I ordered it to be done. That action was approved by the Secretary of War, and Thomas Scott Esq, then in charge of Military Railroads and afterwards assistant Secretary of War, was sent down to superintend the construction.

For the purpose of the road it was necessary to take the land of private parties.

I see no reason why they should not be compensated for the use of their land upon proof of their loyalty.

I have the honor to be
Very respectfully
Your obedt. Servt.

Benj. F. Butler