The Life And Work of Sir William Van Horne

Cover of book The Life And Work of Sir William Van Horne
Categories: Nonfiction

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67. ENLISTMENT. THE CHICAGO AND ALTON. AGASSIZ. DRAWING. MARRIAGE. WHEN the Civil War broke out, Lincoln's state, like every other part of the country, seethed with excitement. In the dingy office of the Cut-Off the danger threatening the Union became the absorbing topic of conversation among the men working or loafing there. Their talk stirred the boy, and one morning, without a word to anyone, he went to the recruiting office and enlisted for service in the Federal army. But he was the main support of his widowed mother, and his exceptional value as a capable telegrapher at a time when the Cut-Off was an important link in the transportation of troops made his retention essential to the railway. As soon, therefore, as his enlistment became known to Knowlton, the assistant- superintendent, the latter provided a substitute and secured his release. That his employers considered his services to be indispensable did not, however, relieve him from experiencing some days of trouble and anxiety when, the revenues of the Michigan Central having been seriously affected by the war, Knowlton received instructions to reduce his staff. The news quickly spread through the office and the yards, and none of the employees was more dismayed by the prospect of dismissal than Van Horne. The vision of a general-superintendent's private car was swallowed in the blackness of the future, and the thought of his home and its needs weighed heavily upon him. "That evening the Chief sent for me when I was in despair. He said, 'You know the instructions sent out. The staff here has to be reduced, but I expect to keep you on. Now how much of the work can you do?' I said, desperately, 'I guess I can do it all.' " To such self-reliance, reinforced by the knowledge he had acquire...

The Life And Work of Sir William Van Horne
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