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Thomas Robinson Sharp Papers

Identifier: Ms-1997-019

Scope and Content

This collection contains the papers of Thomas Robinson Sharp, military road superintendent and colonel in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War and an official of various railways during the latter half of the nineteenth century. In a journal within the collection, Sharp briefly records his daily activities and whereabouts from 1859 to 1863. He makes some lengthier entries in 1862, mentioning battles and notable individuals, including "Stonewall" Jackson and Turner Ashby. The collection also contains an indexed notebook in which Sharp seemingly recorded anything which he found worthy of remembering, including such diverse subjects as statistics and procedures of various railways; instructions on personal behavior; home remedies; tools and equipment; Confederate postal rates; and many more. Interspersed among the handwritten notes are pencil sketches and clippings from published sources. Another similar volume contains Sharp's notes on railroad history and data on a number of different railway companies. A scrapbook of newspaper clippings is devoted entirely to an 1877 train collision on the B&O line at Point of Rocks, Maryland.

The collection includes two ledgers, one largely devoted to recording sales of food goods to various individuals and companies, the other a cash book. Sharp's correspondence for a few months in 1908 is contained in two letter copy books; the collection also includes a single letter to Sharp, written by F. E. Browne, regarding a water distillery. Completing the papers is a collection of ephemera added by an unidentified past owner. These items include several newspaper clippings from the 1960s and 1970s, largeley relating to Civil War topics in Warren and Frederick counties, Virginia; research notes on various topics; an article about composition, extracted from an unidentified magazine; and a sketch of Brooklyn, Bath & Coney Island Railroad locomotive 6 ("Clifford").


  • 1859 - 1908


Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials.

Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: Please contact Special Collections and University Archives ( or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Biographical Note

Thomas Robinson Sharp was born on February 22, 1834, in Mt. Carbon, Pennsylvania. He worked as assistant to the general superintendent of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad (1853-1854), East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad (1854), and the Petersburg Railroad (1855-1856). He was assistant superintendent of the Alabama and Florida Railroad (1857-1859) and superintendent of the Richmond & York River Railroad (1859-1860). From June 1861 to April 1865 he was the military road superintendent of the Confederate States of America, achieving the rank of colonel. After working as a superintendent of the Savannah & Memphis Railroad (1871-1872) and the New Jersey Southern Railroad (1872), he was an assistant, then master of transportations for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (1872-77). He served as a receiver for the Long Island Railroad (1877-1880), president of the Danville, Mocksville & Southwestern Railroad Company (1880-?), and president of the Cincinnati, Wheeling & New York Railroad Company (1883-?), as well as general manager of the Kanawha & Ohio Railroad (1886-?). Thomas Robinson Sharp died on July 28, 1909 and was buried in Eden (Rockingham County), North Carolina.


0.5 Cubic Feet (1 box)


This collection consists of journals, notebooks, scrapbooks, and letter copy books of Thomas Robinson Sharp, a Confederate military railroad superintendent during the American Civil War and colonel and official of several railroad companies in the latter half of the nineteenth century.


The collection is arranged document type.

Source of Acquisition

The Thomas Robinson Sharp Papers were donated to Special Collections in 1997.

Separated Material

During the course of processing, the following books were removed from the collection and cataloged for the Rare Book collection:

  1. North Carolina Corporation Commission, Annual Report, 1899 (Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton and E.M. Uzzell, 1899). HD2767 .N8 A2 Large Spec
  2. Biddle, Owen, The Young Carpenter's Assistant; or, A System of Architecture, Adapted to the Style of Building in the United States (Philadelphia: B. Johnson, 1805). NA705 .B5 1805 Large Spec
  3. The Biographical Directory of the Railway Officials of America (Chicago: Railway Age Pub. Co., 1887). HE2723 .B56 Large Spec
  4. Charters, Special Acts and Contracts of the Long Island Railroad Co., Flushing, North Shore & Central Railroad Co., and the Southern Railroad Company of Long Island (Long Island City: Long Island Weekly "Star" Print, 1876). HE2791 .L56 L56 1876 Large Spec
  5. Baldwin Locomotive Works, Illustrated Catalogue of Locomotives (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1881). TJ625 .B2 A4x 1881 Large Spec
  6. Haswell, Chas. H., Mechanics' Tables, Containing Areas and Circumferences of Circles, and Sides of Equal Squares; Circumferences of Angled Hoops... (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1856). TG151 .H35 1856 Small Spec
  7. Hillyer's American Railroad Magazine, vol. 1-2, 4-5, no. 1. HE2741 .H56 1859 Large Spec
  8. The Official Railway List ([S.l.: s.n., 1887]). HE2721 .O44x 1887 Large Spec
  9. Stephenson, Rowland Macdonald, Railways: an Introductory Sketch, with Suggestions, in Reference to Their Extension to British Colonies (London: J. Weale, 1850). TF200 .S8 1850 Small Spec
  10. Time Book for the Running of the Trains... of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (Baltimore: Printing Office, Sun Iron Bldg., 1872). HE2791 .B3 T5 1872 Small Spec

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the Thomas Robinson Sharp Papers by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement and description of the Thomas Robinson Sharp Papers commenced in November 1997 and was completed in January 1998; minor adjustments to the arrangement and description were made in February 2009.

Thomas Robinson Sharp Papers, 1859-1908
Gina Ellis, Student Assistant, and Laura Katz Smith, Manuscripts Curator
2009 (CC0 1.0)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US