Brigadier General Herman Haupt
June 24, 2010
As the 1862 Railroad Act placed the railroad and telegraph lines under government jurisdiction, civilian railroad experts were given military status. One such man was Herman Haupt (1817-1863), a native of Philadelphia and civil engineer well-known for his genius. He had been Chief Engineer for the construction of several rail lines, including the Pennsylvania, and he authored 'General Theory of Bridge Construction,' published in 1851.
Haupt was working on the construction of the Hoosac Tunnel in Massachusetts when he was called upon for service and appointed Chief of Construction and transportation. There was controversy over the tunnel and Haupt had personally funded a portion of the project.
Haupt accepted the position under a few conditions, he wanted neither rank nor pay in return for no military interference in conducting his personal business affairs and being able to return to work on the tunnel upon his release of service. Among Haupt's many accomplishments during the Civil War was the rebuilding of the bridge over the Potomac Creek.
The original bridge took three years to build and the reconstruction was done in less than a week. Unfortunately, the Union army lost his service because none of the conditions above were meet. He still received military rank, in fact he was promoted from Colonel to Brigadier General. Military interference in his personal business became so excessive. Haupt retired from service in September 1863. He never returned to work on the Hoosac Tunnel.