Orange & Alexandria Railroad

A Chronology



January - Three petitions are submitted to the Virginia General Assembly from businessmen in Culpeper County for incorporation of an "Orange and Alexandria Railroad Company".

March 27 - The Virginia General Assembly charters the Orange and Alexandria Railroad Company. It's charter specifies that it is to run from Gordonsville through Culpeper Court House to Alexandria.


May 9 - The Orange and Alexandria Railroad Company is organized at a meeting of Stockholders in Warrenton. George Smoot is elected President. John Strode Barbour Jr. is appointed to the Board by the Board of Public Works as one of 3 representatives of the Commonwealth's interests.

June 7 - Survey Commences from Alexandria.

July 18 - Survey Commences from Gordonsville.

September 3 - The company contracts for the purchase of 2500 tons of 'U' rail at $42.20 per ton - enough for the first 30 miles.

September 27 - Bids are sought for 81,840 sticks of timber to be let in contracts of 1 mile each between Alexandria and 31 miles distant in Prince William County.

September 30 - First annual report: $14,147.00 earned in stock sales. $3,813.96 remains after expenses. 8,145 shares have been sold with the Virginia Board of Public Works the largest stockholder with 4,050 shares.

November 2 - Alexandria passes an act permitting the laying of track on city streets.

December 21 - Chief Engineer Thomas Atkinson submits 7 options for the route.

December 22 - The Board resolves to cross Broad Run in Prince William County between Brentsville and Milford.


January - 38 Orange and Culpeper residents petition the General Assembly to have the railroad take the "Limestone Route" through Stevensburg and Raccoon Ford. The petition fails.

February 5 - The company puts out notice for bid on building the "City Division", which runs from Duke and Union Streets to Cameron Mills. The firm of Malone and Crockett will be awarded the contract.

March 9 - The Manassas Gap Railroad is chartered.

April 19 - The firm of William Eggleston, N.H. Decker, John B. Mathews, James McDonald, and J.H. Decker are contracted to build 58 miles of the line from Cameron Mills to Culpeper Court House.

September 15 - Out of the 7 route options, the board chooses the "Upper Line" route.

September 30 - Annual Report: After expenses and stock sales, the company shows a surplus of $65,180.32.

November - Following disagreements concerning route and masonry construction, Eggleston, Decker & Co. abandon work on the line.

December 4 - Josiah and Mary E. Wilcoxon deed 48.5 acres of land near Union Mills to the Orange and Alexandria Railroad Company.


Alexandria roundhouse built.

May - It is reported to the stockholders that costs are exceeding stock sales. The stockholders approve the company issuing bonds and mortgaging property to raise funds.

May 6 - The First train of the O&A, "Pioneer", rolls through Alexandria running from the north end of Union Street to the Wilkes Street Tunnel.

May 7 - The O&A is officially inaugurated at Alexandria.

May 29 - The first 3 carloads of flour, meal, and ship stuff from Cameron Mills arrives at the wharf for shipment.

September 2 - Locomotive "Alexandria" arrives from the N.J. Locomotive and Machine Company.

October - 28 miles of the line is completed.

October 8 - John S. Barbour Jr. writes to James Brown at the Virginia Board of Public Works suggesting a change in management of the company is necessary.

October 31 - John Strode Barbour Jr. is elected President of the company.

November 25 - Construction begins on the Warrenton Branch.


January 1 - The Alexandria Gazette announces that a warehouse is now ready for use at Manassas Junction.

March - Post Office established at Burke Station.

April - Post Office established at Fairfax Station.

May - The Manassas Gap Railroad opens from Manassas to White Plains.

September - The O&A is completed to the Rappahannock River.

September 3 - The Company establishes Freight rates.

October 12 - First known advertising of passenger schedules and rates.

October 30 - Bealeton Station is established, named for landowner John G. Beale.

November - The Warrenton Branch line is completed.


January - The first train reaches Culpeper Court House.

February 13 - It is advertised that there is now a depot building operating at Bristoe.


O&A puts in a request to the General Assembly to allow for the building of the line to Lynchburg. The legislature approves the request but stipulates that the line is to run from Charlottesville, therefore requiring an agreement with the Virginia Central Railroad to use their tracks between Gordonsville and Charlottesville.

January 2 - The railroad reaches the Rapidan River.

January - Mitchell's Station is opened.

January 24 - A post office is opened at 'Rapid Ann Station'

April - The line is completed to Gordonsville.

September 14 - Silas Burke (of Burke Station, and a member of the board) dies. He was instrumental in gaining support for the railroad in Fairfax County.

September 30 - Annual report: Net earnings are $54,357.00


July 1 - The O&A and Virginia Central Railroad begins carrying twice-daily mail from Washington to Richmond. The Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad sues the O&A and Virginia Central to prevent passenger travel between the capitol cities.

September 30 - Annual report: The company declares its first dividend, 5%, payable annually. Net earnings are $89,752.00


September 30 - Annual report: The stone bridge over Hoof's Run is completed. Also, culverts of stone at the 5th, 6th, and 7th miles have replaced the temporary trestle work.


September 30 - Annual report: the railroad carried 70,321 passengers and 32,409 tons of freight. It employed 188 workers and reports a profit of $151,922.00.


March 2 - The Manassas Gap Railroad is completed as far as Mt. Jackson.


The O&A southern extension between Charlottesville and Lynchburg is completed.

November 28 - Joseph Isaacs buys 55 acres including the mill lot, station house, and gristmill at Sangster's Station.


April - With Civil War immanent, the company pays for bridge guards to prevent sabotage.

May 24 - Federal troops occupy Alexandria. They take control of the company's financial records, main terminal, roundhouse, repair and machine shops, and 2 locomotives ("Fairfax" and "Rapidan"). The Confederates destroy 22 miles of track and all the bridges from Cameron Run to Fairfax Station. The O&A sets up temporary repair facilities at Gordonsville.

May 25 - North Bound Confederate troop train has a head-on collision with a south bound train in front of the Sarah Bull house in Orange.

July 17 - Upon the advance of Union troops toward Bull Run, Confederates destroy the 5 Popes Head Run bridges and the Bull Run bridge.

July 18 - Battle of First Manassas. Following the battle, Confederate troops will repair the Popes Head Run and Bull Run bridges.

August 27 - A strong Confederate detachment is established at Springfield Station.

September 30 - Annual report: The company reports a net profit at $399,513.00. They employed 167 and utilized 504 slaves.

October 2-3 - 800 Federal soldiers take a train out to Springfield and skirmish with Confederate pickets. The Federal troops confiscate 11 carloads of wood and sleepers.

November - Federals open the line to Springfield. They also connect the tracks of the O&A with the Alexandria and Potomac and the Alexandria, Loudoun & Hampshire Railroads.

November 29 - Confederate General Joseph Johnston has two Louisiana soldiers executed near the proposed terminus of the Confederate Military Railroad at Centreville.

December 4 - Skirmish near Burke Station. Confederates lose 8 men and several horses.


January 17 - A Federal party of 11 men scout the line as far as Burke Station.

January 26 - Horace Edsall at Edsall's Station is arrested by Colonel Cross of the 5th New Hampshire and charged with selling liquor to the troops.

January 31 - Passage of the Railways and Telegraph Act by the U.S. Congress.

February 11 - Daniel C. McCallum is appointed Military Director and Superintendent of United States Railroads.

March 9 - Confederates destroy the supply depot at Union Mills and Manassas and burn the Bull Run bridge as they withdraw to the Rappahannock.

March 11 - Union troops occupy Union Mills and Manassas.

March 28-29 - Skirmishes at Bealeton and Rappahannock Station.

April - The line is opened up to Warrenton Junction by the U.S. Military Railroad. A rain storm washes out the Bull Run Bridge.

April 20 - Skirmish at Brandy Station.

April 22 - Secretary Stanton summons noted railroad engineer Herman Haupt to Washington.

April 27 - Haupt is appointed aide -de-camp on the staff of General Irvin McDowell with the rank of Colonel.

May 28 - Herman Haupt commisioned by Secretary Stanton to act as the Chief of Construction and Transportation.

June 4 - Bull Run Bridge carried away by a flood.

June 11 - Haupt organizes the Construction Corps.

June 26 - Haupt leaves army when General Pope shows little interest in the operation of railroads.

July - Warrenton Branch Railroad opened by USMRR.

July 12 - General John Pope's Union army occupies Culpeper.

July 12-17 - Union reconnaissance to Orange. Skirmish at Toddsberth near Madison Run Station on July 17.

July 14 - Union raiding party destroys the Rapidan River Bridge.

August - USMRR opens the line as far as the Rapidan.

August 2 - Engagement at Orange Court House.

August 18 - Haupt is summoned back to the army to take care of railroad operations within the lines of the Army of Virginia.

August 22-23 - General J.E.B. Stuart Raids Catlett Station capturing General Pope's baggage wagons. Skirmishing at the Rappahannock River bridge.

August 26 - Confederates attack 4 trains at Bristoe Station, derailing two, and seize the Union supply base at Manassas. The locomotive "Secretary" crashes into the rear of a stopped train at Union Mills, blocking the track.

August 27 - Engagements at Kettle Run Bridge and Bull Run Bridge. Union General George W. Taylor is mortally wounded at the Bull Run bridge. Confederate General Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry burns the bridge over Pohick Creek west of Burke Station. The USMRR Construction Corps rebuilds the Pohick Creek bridge in 8 hours. Confederates also destroy the Bull Run bridge.

August 28-30 - Second Manassas. Pope is defeated and retires back toward Washington. General Banks is ordered to destroy 4 trains trapped behind Broad Run Bridge and Kettle Run.

September 2 - Fairfax Station evacuated by Union troops. The station and a train loaded with forage is burned.

September 3 - Haupt reports USMRR no longer controls any part of the O&A outside of the Washington defenses. The USMRR lost 7 locomotives and 295 cars in Pope's Campaign.

September 5 - Haupt commisioned a Brigadier-General.

September 19 - Confederate partisan unit, 'The Chinquapin Rangers" is organized by William Brawner. The unit, later under command of Capt. James C. Kincheloe, will continually harass US Military Railroad operations along the O&A for the rest of the war.

September 26 - Skirmish near Catlett.

October 19 - Skirmish at Warrenton Junction.

October 31 - Rebel Guerrillas destroy an army train near Bull Run bridge. A locomotive and 12 cars are thrown off the track. No fatalities are reported but 100 Union prisoners are taken.

November - USMRR opens the line to Bealeton and Warrenton.

November 26 - Burnside orders the army toward Fredericksburg. The railroad evacuates $4 million worth of supplies from Warrenton to Alexandria using 225 cars.

December 28 - Stuart's cavalry raids Burke Station. they spend 5 hours tearing up rails, destroying switches, obstructing track and collecting information over the telegraph before cutting the lines and moving west. Stuart sends a small detachment to tear up track and burn the bridge over Accotink Creek. Although Stuart reports that he burned the bridge, Federal reports state little damage to the railroad was done.


February - A.J. Russell is detached from the 141st NY to become the official photographer for the USMRR.

February 2 - Skirmish at Rappahannock Station.

February 14 - Skirmish at Union Mills.

February 26 - A freshet takes out Bull Run bridge.

March 17 - Skirmish at Bealeton.

April - O&A opened by USMRR as far as Bealeton and Warrenton.

April 29 - Skirmish at Brandy Station.

April 30 - W.H.F. Lee's Confederate Cavalry burn the Rapidan River Bridge.

May 1 - Skirmish at Culpeper.

May 3 - Skirmish at Warrenton Junction.

May 28 - Mosby's Raiders derail an infantry train at Catlett.

June 9 - Battle of Brandy Station.

June 15 - The Army of the Potomac advances from Fredericksburg to the O&A. I Corps at Kettle Run, III & V Corps at Catlett. General Hooker's HQ at Fairfax Station. After the army leaves the area Confederate partisans destroy the Bull Run Bridge.

July - USMRR reopens line to Culpeper and Warrenton.

July 23 - A west bound USMRR freight train is fired upon at Accotink Creek. Beginning of nearly daily attacks by Confederate partisans on O&A. Shipments along the line exceed 100 cars per day to supply the Union Army.

July 26 - Confederates loosen a rail and place debris on the track near Accotink Creek. The train remained on the track and the Confederates were chased away by the train guard.

August 3 - Confederates raid Springfield.

August 6 - 25 Confederate cavalry attack 60 federal woodcutters one-mile east of Burke Station. The railroad guard chase the raiders away.

August 18 - Skirmish near Bristoe Station. Partisans fire on train at Burke Station. One raider captured and hung.

September - Devereux Station opened by USMRR.

September 13 - Engagement at Culpeper railroad depot.

September 14 - Haupt is relieved from duty with the USMRR.

September 19 - Alexandria Depot stockade is completed.

September 21 - Skirmish near Orange.

October - The Bristoe Campaign begins. Skirmishing at various places along the line as the Union army retires back from Culpeper to Centreville. The line is abandoned beyond Bull Run. A battle occurs along the tracks at Bristoe Station on October 14.

October 10 - 15th New Jersey burns Mitchell Station.

October 13 - Union forces destroy Rappahannock River bridge.

October 17 - Skirmish at Accotink Creek.

October 25-26 - Skirmish at Bealeton.

October 27 - Confederate partisans strike near Burke taking 25-30 mules and several teamsters.

October 30 - Line is reopened to Warrenton Junction and Warrenton.

October - Blockhouses are constructed at Accotink Creek Bridge, Burke Station, Sangster Station, and Bull Run Bridge.

November 7 - Battle of Rappahannock Station.

November 16 - Line reopen to Culpeper and later to Mitchell Station.

November 25 - Kincheloe's Confederate Partisans attack a wood hauling team between Sangster and Devereux Station capturing 23.

November 30 - Skirmish at Licking Run Bridge.

December 17 - Confederate General Thomas Rosser and his brigade of 1000 men attack Sangster Station. They burn the camp of Company I, 155th NY but fail to destroy the bridges or damage the railroad.

December 18 - Skirmish at Culpeper.


January - Blockhouses are constructed at Devereux Station between bridges 3 & 4 and at Fairfax Station.

January 12 - Skirmish at Accotink Creek.

February - The Confederate Congress repeals the 1862 Partisan Ranger Act. Kincheloe's men refuse to join the 15th Virginia Cavalry and continue partisan activity.

February 5 - Train collision at Burke.

February 29 - Skirmish at Charlottesville.

April 9 - Bull Run Bridge submerged by flood waters.

April 15-16 - Skirmishes near Catlett, Nokesville, and Bristoe.

May - O&A is abandoned by USMRR beyond Burke Station.

June 14 - Skirmish at New Glasgow.

June 17-18 - Battle at Lynchburg.

August 8 - Skirmish at Fairfax Station.

September 19 - Skirmish at Culpeper. Federal cavalry burn facilities at Mitchell and Rapidan Stations and burn the bridge over the Rapidan River.

November 11 - Skirmish near Manassas Junction.

December 23 - Skirmish near Gordonsville.


April 9 - Lee surrenders to Grant.

April 10 - Skirmish along the road between Burke Station and Arundel's Tavern.

June 27 - Ownership of the O&A is transferred from the Federal Government to the Virginia Board of Public Works.

August 28 - Nokesville established as a station.

October 16 - John S. Barbour Jr. marries Susan S. Daingerfield.


February 14 - O&A merger with the Manassas Gap Railroad is approved by the Commonwealth.

March - The O&A is sued by Mr. James Patterson for payment of overdue coupons issued during the war.

May - Consolidation with the Manassas Gap Railroad. The company name changes to The Orange, Alexandria and Manassas Railroad.

September 30 - Annual report: The company reports a profit of $225,147.00. However the company also reports quarterly debt payments at $35,670.00 at the beginning of the fiscal year, rising to $59,440.00 by the last quarter of the year.


Devereux Station's name is changed to Clifton.

August - The railroad builds a wye at Manassas Junction for convenience of shifting trains. The first trip is taken over the repaired former Manassas Gap Railroad to Mt. Jackson.

September 30 - Annual report: Company reports profit of $279,957.00. The quarterly debt payments are now at $191,442.00 much of which is due to consolidation costs. Union Mills Station is closed.

October - John Cavan, a track hand, is crushed under a locomotive and killed.


February 9 - Clifton gets a post office.

September 30 - Annual report: Company reports a profit of $407,336.00. Payments on loan interest was $400,000.00 for the year. The total debt stands at $4.3 million.


January 9 - The Railroad completes construction of an engine house and turntable at Manassas.

March/April - 2 engines explode killing three people.

March 11 - George Smoot, first O&A President, dies.

September - The James River rises 26 feet out of its banks destroying the James River bridge.

September 30 - Annual report: Company reports a profit of $359,676.00. Debt jumps to $5.3 million. The company purchases $200,000.00 of Lynchburg & Danville Railroad stock.


January 14 - The company acquires the Lynchburg & Danville Railroad.


March 28 - The company begins to purchase its own state subscribed stock. The money for the transaction is loaned by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.

May 1 - The Baltimore & Potomac Railroad opens.

June 1 - Mrs. McCann's house near Manassas is destroyed by fire caused by a spark from a locomotive.

September 30 - Annual report: Company reports a profit of $407,336.00.


February 4 - The company is authorized by the state legislature to reorganize. The new name is to be The Washington City, Virginia Midland & Great Southern Railroad. The company is to extend its line to Harrisonburg. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad announces it has controlling interest in the company.

May 5 - The final train under the name of the Orange, Alexandria & Manassas Railroad runs.


Danville extension from Lynchburg is completed.


Charlottesville & Rapidan Railroad is opened (Gordonsville by-pass).


Company name officially becomes The Virginia Midland Railway.


March - John S. Barbour Jr. retires after 34 years as railroad president.


The Richmond & Danville Railroad leases the Virginia Midland.


May 14 - John S. Barbour Jr. Dies.


Richmond & Danville goes into receivership.

February 20 - The line becomes part of the Southern Railway System.