General William Mahone - Atlantic Mississippi & Ohio Railroad - Stock CertificateInv# AG1019 Stock
General William Mahone (1826-1895)
A member of the first graduating class of Virginia Military Institute (VMI), he was trained as a civil engineer. He helped build Virginia's roads and railroads in the antebellum and postbellum (reconstruction) periods.
As a Major General of the Confederate Army, Mahone is best known for turning the tide of the Battle of the Crater against the Union advance during the Siege of Petersburg in the U.S. Civil War.
Mahone became a political leader in Virginia, led the Readjuster Party and helped obtain funding in 1881 for a teacher's school which later grew to become Virginia State University. Small of stature, he was nicknamed "Little Billy".
In 1853, he was hired as chief engineer to build the new Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad. Still in use 150 years later, Mahone's corduroy design withstands immense tonnages of modern coal traffic. He was also responsible for engineering and building the famous 52 mile-long tangent track between Suffolk and Petersburg. With no curves, it is a major artery of modern Norfolk Southern rail traffic.
In 1854, Mahone surveyed and laid out streets and lots of Ocean View City, a new resort town fronting on the Chesapeake Bay in Norfolk County. With the advent of electric streetcars in the late 19th century, an amusement park was developed there and a boardwalk built along the adjacent beach area.
As the political differences between north and south escalated in the 2nd half of the 19th century, Mahone was in favor of secession of the southern states. During Civil War, he was active in the actual conflict even before he became an officer in the Confederate Army.
After Virginia seceded from the Union in April, 1861, Mahone helped bluff the federal troops into abandoning the Gosport Shipyard in Portsmouth by running a single passenger train into Norfolk with great noise and whistle-blowing, then much more quietly, sending it back west, and then returning the same train again (again with much noise, etc.) creating the illusion of large numbers of arriving troops to the federals listening in Portsmouth (and just barely out of sight). The ruse worked, and not a single Confederate soldier was lost as the Union authorities abandoned the area, and retreated to Fort Monroe across Hampton Roads. After this, Mahone accepted a commission as Lt. Col. and later Colonel of the 6th Virginia Infantry Regiment in the Confederate Army. He was promoted to Brigadier General in November, 1861.
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