McCauley Lecture: Targeted Tracks - The Cumberland Valley Railroad in the Civil War, 1861-1865

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This virtual program is presented as part of the John C. Frye Western Maryland Room's annual McCauley Historical Lectures series. This program will be livestreamed (link TBD) and does not require prior registration. The program is presented with support from Carroll County Public Library and Frederick County Public Libraries.

The Cumberland Valley Railroad connected Hagerstown, Maryland, to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Its location enhanced its importance during some of the Civil War’s most critical campaigns. Because of its proximity to major cities in the Eastern Theater, the CVRR was an enticing Confederate target. As invading armies jostled for position, the CVRR’s valuable rolling stock was never far from the minds of Rebel leaders. Northern military and railway officials knew the line was a prized target and coordinated—and just as often butted heads—in a series of efforts to ensure the railroad’s prized resources remained out of enemy hands. When they failed to protect the line, as they sometimes did, Southern horsemen wrought havoc on the Northern war effort by tearing up its tracks, seizing or torching Union supplies, and laying waste to warehouses, engine houses, and passenger depots.

Scott Mingus is a retired scientist and executive in the global pulp & paper industry. The Ohio native was part of the research team that developed the first commercially successful self-adhesive US postage stamps. He has written 23 Civil War and Underground Railroad books. His biography of General William Extra Billy Smith won multiple awards, including the Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr. Literary Prize for Confederate History. He has also written several articles for Gettysburg Magazine and other historical journals. Scott has appeared on C-SPAN, C-SPAN3, PCN, and other TV networks.

Mingus and his wife Debi live in York County, PA. He has written six scenario books for Civil War miniature wargaming. Scott blogs at


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