Rails to the Front

The Role of Railways in Wartime

Augustus Veenendaal, Roger Grant

Date Published :
November 2017
Publisher :
Karwansaray Publishers
Illustration :
Full-color illustrations throughout
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9789490258153
Pages : 250
Dimensions : 9 X 12 inches
In stock


“The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car [...] You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth — right at your doors.”
~ William Tecumseh Sherman, 1860

The military use of railways derives from their ability to move troops or materiel rapidly and, less commonly, on their use as a platform for military systems (like armoured trains and heavy artillery). Until recently, the mobility of large armies generally depended on control of railways to move reinforcements, ammunition and food, as the locomotive and railway cars proved far superior to animal-drawn equipment.

Rails to the Front, historians Augustus J. Veenendaal and H. Roger Grant capture the critical impact of railways in an abundance of conflicts worldwide, from the German revolutions in the 1840s to the Gulf War in the 1990s. This lavishly illustrated, careful study is the first of its kind in English.

About The Author

Augustus J. Veenendal Jr., retired as Senior Research Historian at the Institue of Netherlands in The Hague. He is the author of a large number of books and articles on Dutch, American, and international railroad history, including his latest Het Grote Spoor Boek (Zwolle: W-Books).

H. Roger Grant, Kathryn and Calhoun Lemon Professor of History at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina, is the author of 31 books, including his latest, Railroaders without Borders: A History of the Railroad Development Corporation (Indiana University Press).


"This book is an excellent value for the money. It fulfills its broad purpose of presenting the role of railways in warfare and provides an excellent launching platform for those wishing to know more about detailed individual circumstances."

- Railroad History,Fall-Winter 2017

"This terrific book celebrates the most important innovation in the history of mankind - the railways, which took over as the main means of transport all over the world from the beginning of the Victorian era. And the impact it had was influential almost immediately in the various conflicts, although it really came into its own in the early years of the first World War. Amazing photos, an amazing slice of social history combine to make this a genuine enthusiast's delight.”

- Books Monthly

"This rather excellent publication covers the use of railways from its inception for military purposes...Both armoured trains and rail artillery receive coverage, with some interesting photos. This book is worth the price for the artwork alone.”

- Scale Military Modeller International

"Elegantly produced, beautifully illustrated and written in a style which is both authoritative and accessible this book comes highly recommended. "

- Backtrack, December 2017

"I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a fine addition to my collection and has shone a spotlight into a crucial aspect of military history that I should have paid better attention to in the past.”

- Classic Military Vehicles

"This work is illustrated with a remarkable collection of photographs, augmented by posters, works of art, drawings, maps, and diagrams drawn from many sources, official archives and private collections."

- Continental Modeller, March 2018

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