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Daniel Craig McCallum

He Ran Nation’s Railways During the Civil War Years

In time of war, one of the most critical tasks is the efficient movement of men and supplies. During the Civil War this was done mainly by the railroads which were managed by Daniel Craig McCallum. ■ McCallum was appointed to that post by Edwin M. Stanton, Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War. To McCallum is due much of the credit for the smooth operation of the railroads which were a prime factor in the Union victory. ■ Daniel Craig McCallum was born in Johnston, Renfrewshire, Scotland, on January 21, 1815. He came to the U.S. with his parents as a youth and grew up in Rochester, New York. He studied architecture and engineering and worked for railroads, earning rapid promotion until he became general superintendent of the Erie Railroad. ■ In 1859 he designed and patented a railroad bridge with an arched truss. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, McCallum headed his own bridge company, specializing in railroad bridges. He was commissioned a colonel and put in charge of the nation’s railways, later rising to the rank of major general. ■ McCallum’s military rank and forceful presence were just what was needed to prevent officious Union officers from commandeering and interfering with both trains and telegraph lines. One of the best sources of information on the operation of the railroads during the Civil War are the records and reports left by McCallum. ■ His talents were not limited to railroading. He also designed buildings and wrote poetry. ■ The strain of the war sapped his strength and he died December 27, 1878, in Brooklyn, New York. A historian said, “The history of McCallum’s great contribution toward Union victory is buried in the forgotten records of that bitter struggle.”

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546