Description

    Major General's William Mahone's Surveyor's Transit - For the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad Confederate Major General William Mahone graduated from Virginia Military Institute in 1847 and served as a civil engineer, chief engineer and ultimately president of the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad. As a Virginian and slaveholder, Mahone sided with the Confederacy but not before lending the resources of his railroad to assist in ramping up the Confederacy for war.

    This surveyor's transit and tripod were owned by Mahone and were very likely used by the 1st Virginia Engineers led by Colonel W. W. Blackford who was the chief engineer when the vast system of earthworks were built during the defense of Petersburg. General Mahone was the hero of the Petersburg defense, lauded and decorated by the citizenry for his heroic defense of their city by his magnificent sword featured in this auction. This sort of surveyor's transit would have been a common site during that campaign as well as during the Pennsylvania campaign when such instruments were used to map railroad routes. This one, however, is quite rare and the only one known to exist marked "VA Engineer Battalion".

    Manufactured by E. Draper of Philadelphia, this instrument was specially made for the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad painted on the face of the compass' 5½" glass. The heavy brass transit is affixed to the wooden tripod by heavy metal brass screws. One leg of the tripod is stamped "Va. Engineer Bn. No.1", the unit commanded by Colonel Blackford who was under General Mahone's overall command at Petersburg.

    After the war William Mahone returned to engineering and became president of the Norfolk and Western Railroad, the successor company he once ran before the war. He was later elected to the United States Senate from Virginia. This is an excellent example of railroad engineering equipment used to build the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad and fortification of Petersburg. It is unique, being the only Confederate marked engineers transit known. A remarkable museum showpiece.

    Provenance: The Tharpe Collection of American Military History

    Exhibited:The Liberty Heritage Society Museum


    Estimate: $8,000 - $10,000.

    Fees, Shipping, and Handling Description: Other (oversized items, group lots, sculptures, toys, gear, equipment, etc.) (view shipping information)

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    Auction Dates
    June, 2007
    24th-25th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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