In the middle of the nineteenth century, many theories on the integration of the railways into the existing system of German fortification were discussed by military authorities. While the methods involved in this discussion were often complex and difficult to realize, by the beginning of the First World War their principle objective had been achieved: the creation of a sophisticated network of fortified railway stations, railway city gates, mountain tunnels and bridges. The development of specialised fortified railway bridges is an especially complex story, often involving disputes between private railway companies and military strategists. In 1856, the Prussian Chief of Staff, Karl von Reyher, objected to a proposed railway bridge on a new line from Prussia to Hannover. He insisted that a new fortress should protect the bridge planned for the Elbe river crossing, just north of the fortress at Magdeburg. The costs involved, meant the company could not progress with the project. But the War Ministry thinking was clear: if rail companies wished to cross a great river, the bridge must to be protected either inside an existing fortress, or with a completely new fortified bridgehead.