Daniel Craig McCallum
Engineer and Poet


Daniel Craig McCallum, photo taken from Library of Congress Collection


Daniel Craig McCallum, was born in Johnston, Renfrewshire, Scotland on January 21st 1815 and died in Brooklyn, New York on December 27th 1878. He came to the United States in his youth with his parents, who settled in Rochester, New York.

After completing elementary school, he began working and became an architect and engineer.

In 1851 he patented an inflexible arched truss bridge, and in 1855 became general supervisor of the Erie Railroad.

He pioneered the notion of organizational charts, breaking the railroad up into geographic divisions of manageable size with each division headed by a superintendent. On 31 January 1862 the President was authorized, by an act of Congress, to take possession of all railroad and telegraph lines in the interest of public safety. The act created the position of Military Director and Superintendent of Railroads in the United States. McCallum, a colonel of volunteers at the time, was appointed to the position by the Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, on 11 February 1862.

McCallum had his headquarters in the Quartermaster General's office but reported directly to Stanton. McCallum was given the authority to enter upon, take possession of, hold and use all locomotives, equipments, appendages and appurtenances that may be required for the transport of troops, arms, ammunition, and military supplies needed by the Union armies. At the time of McCallum's appointment the US government was running a single seven mile rail line from Washington DC to Alexandria, Virginia. By the end of the war the Military Railroad of the United States was the largest railroad system in the world. McCallum, with the new title of Director and General Manager, Military Railroad of the United States, had purchased or captured 419 locomotives and 6330 rail cars.

He was brevetted brigadier general of volunteers on 24 September 1864 and major general of volunteers on 13 March 1865. An Executive order of 8 August 1865 returned all railroads appropriated for military use during the war to their original owners. The position of director and general manager was abolished on 31 July 1866 and McCallum left military service. He also wrote poetry and published The Water-Mill and Other Poems (1870).


McCallum on Lookout Mountain in Tennessee photo taken from Library of Congress Collection


The Order Appointing McCallum Military Director and Superintendant of Railroads

Extract from OR's



Nashville, Tenn., February 4, 1864.

By authority of the Secretary of War, Col. D.C. McCallum, additional aide-de-camp, U.S. Army, is hereby appointed general manager of all railways in possession of the Government, or that may from time to time be taken possession of by military authority, in the Departments of the Cumberland, the Ohio, the Tennessee, and of Arkansas, with all the powers and authorities conferred and duties imposed upon and vested in John B. Anderson, as general manager of said railways, by special order of the Secretary of War, of date War Department, Louisville, Ky., October 19, 1863 (as modified by paragraph 4, General Orders. No. 13, from these headquarters), and will at once enter upon the discharge of the duties of general manager of railways as aforesaid.
John B. Anderson is hereby relieved from duty as general manager of said railways, and from all connection with the same, and will turn over to said Colonel McCallum all property, moneys, contracts, and papers of every kind and description belonging to Government or in anywise appertaining to or concerning said railways.

By order of Maj. Gen. U.S. Grant:
Assistant Adjutant-General.

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