Herman Haupt
[[Image:250px|center|200px|border]]Gen. Herman Haupt
Personal Information
Born: March 26, 1817(1817-03-26)
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Died: December 14, 1905 (aged 88)
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Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Union
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Branch: United States Army
Union Army
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Rank: Brigadier General
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Commands: U.S. Military Railroads
Battles: American Civil War
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Herman Haupt (March 26, 1817 – December 14, 1905) was an American civil engineer and railroad construction engineer and executive. As a Union Army General in the American Civil War, he revolutionized military transportation in the United States and was one of the unsung heroes of the war.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Haupt, whose first name was sometimes spelled Hermann, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Jacob and Anna Margaretta Wiall Haupt. Jacob, a merchant, died when Herman was 12 years old and Anna was forced to support her family of three sons and two daughters. Herman attended school by working part time to pay his tuition. He was appointed to the United States Military Academy at the age of 14 by President Andrew Jackson. He graduated in 1835 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Infantry that July. However, he resigned his commission on September 30, 1835, to become a civil engineer. He worked as a construction engineer on the Norristown Railroad and engaged in bridge and tunnel construction. On August 30, 1838, he married Ann Cecelia Keller in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. They eventually had seven sons and four daughters. In 1839, he designed and patented a novel bridge construction technique that is known as the Haupt Truss; examples of bridges he constructed with this technique are in Altoona and Ardmore, Pennsylvania, both from 1854.

From 1840 to 1847, Haupt was a professor of mathematics and engineering at Gettysburg College (which at that time was named Pennsylvania College). He returned to the railroad business in 1847, becoming a construction engineer on the Pennsylvania Railroad, and then general superintendent from 1849 to 1851. He was the chief engineer of the Southern Railroad of Mississippi from 1851 to 1853, and the chief engineer of the Pennsylvania Railroad until 1856; in the latter position he completed the Mountain Division with the Alleghany Tunnel, opening the line through to Pittsburgh. He was the chief engineer on the five-mile (8 km) Hoosac Tunnel project through the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts from 1856 to 1861.

Civil War[edit | edit source]

File:HermanHauptnearBullRun1863.jpg

The locomotive, "General Haupt" is being used for work detail while its namesake, Herman Haupt, stands on the hill to the right inspecting railway work near Bull Run in 1863

In the spring of 1862, a year after the start of the Civil War, the U.S. War Department organized a new bureau responsible for constructing and operating military railroads in the United States. On April 27, Haupt was appointed chief of the bureau by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, as a colonel and aide-de-camp to Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell, then in command of the defenses of Washington, D.C. He repaired and fortified war-damaged railroad lines in the vicinity of Washington, arming and training railroad staff, and improved telegraph communications along the railroad lines. Among his most challenging assignments was restoring the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad line, including the Potomac Creek Bridge, which he repaired in nine days. President Abraham Lincoln was impressed with Haupt's work there. In a visit on May 28, 1862, he observed: "That man Haupt has built a bridge four hundred feet long and one hundred feet high, across Potomac Creek, on which loaded trains are passing every hour, and upon my word, gentlemen, there is nothing in it but cornstalks and beanpoles."

File:Potomac Creek Bridge 5-1864.jpg

Military railroad bridge restored over Potomac Creek.

Haupt was promoted to brigadier general on September 5, 1862, but he officially refused the appointment, explaining that he would be happy to serve without official rank or pay, but he did not want to limit his freedom to work in private business (and he privately bridled at the protocols and discipline of Army service). His appointment was eventually rescinded on September 5, 1863, and he left the service on September 14. During that year as a general, however, he made an enormous impact on the Union war effort. The Civil War was one of the first wars in which large-scale railroad transportation was used to move and supply armies rapidly over long distances. He assisted the Union Army of Virginia and Army of the Potomac in the Northern Virginia Campaign, the Maryland Campaign, and was particularly effective in supporting the Gettysburg Campaign, conducted in an area he knew well from his youth. His hastily organized trains kept the Union Army well supplied, and he organized the returning trains to carry thousands of Union wounded to hospitals. After the battle, Haupt boarded one of his trains and arrived at the White House on July 6, 1863, being the first to inform President Lincoln that General Robert E. Lee's defeated Confederate army was not being pursued vigorously by Union Major General George G. Meade.

Postbellum[edit | edit source]

After his war service, Haupt returned to railroad, bridge, pipeline, and tunnel construction. He and his wife purchased a small resort hotel at Mountain Lake in Giles County, Virginia. He invented a drilling machine that won the highest prize of the Royal Polytechnic Society of Great Britain and was the first to prove the practicability of transporting oil in pipes.

He was the general manager of Piedmont Air-Line Railway (from Richmond, Virginia, to Atlanta, Georgia), 1872 to 1876; general manager of the Northern Pacific Railroad, 1881 to 1885; president of the Dakota and Great Southern Railroad, 1885 to 1886. He was a wealthy man from his investments in railroads, mining, and Pennsylvania real estate, but he eventually lost most of his fortune, in part due to political complications involving the completion of the Hoosac Tunnel.

Herman Haupt died of a heart attack at age 88 in Jersey City, New Jersey, stricken while traveling in a Pullman car named "Irma" on a journey from New York to Philadelphia. He is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.[1]

Selected works[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Herman Haupt, Find A Grave. Accessed August 29, 2007.

Further reading[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

de:Herman Haupt fr:Herman Haupt

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