the service, and for this purpose the committee recommend that military control be taken of the principal railroad routes terminating at or passing through Richmond, Nashville, Memphis, Atlanta, and all route leading to the headquarters of our several army corps, which should be placed under the direction of an efficient superintendent, free from local interests, investments, or connection with special railroads. Great delay, inconvenience, and expense is caused by the numerous unconnected tracks, which, if joined by links, short in distance, would not only increase the facilities for transportation and the capacity of the roads, but would save much time, labor, and expense in transferring troops and freight.
There is a deficiency of rolling-stock on the most used and important railways and branches which could be remedied under a proper administration and distribution of stock, taken from roads where there is a superabundance, and adding where deficient, thus equalizing the supply throughout the Confederacy. Wherever deficient, thus equalizing the supply throughout the Confederacy. Wherever desirable for the public defense, the same stock should pass over the longest available route, and when the width of the grades differ the roads should approach to proximity until a change of width would permit the connection to be perfected. With proper management the capacity of the principal routes can be increased to six trains each way per day, with an average speed of ten miles an hour, while the present transportation is not above two trains a day, and the rate of speed not more than six miles an hour.
Wagon transportation. -The committee are satisfied that the wagon transportation is inadequate, and if the Army was furnished with the full amount allowed by the present Regulations, it would still be insufficient. Our volunteers arrive in the service unused to camp life, encumbered by an allowance of clothing hardly sufficient for their need, yet beyond the amount allowed by Regulations. Overtaken by disease, and with conveniences though scanty, yet forbidden by the frugality and thrift suited to the educated soldier, when a movement is made, the line of march may be traced by the cheap comforts and extra blankets cast aside, to be deeply regretted by the soldier at his next camping ground. From causes like these much suffering has been endured by our troops in exposed situations, especially in Western Virginia, where the transportation was barely sufficient to keep subsistence enough for the daily ration while on the march from Jackson's River to Sewell Mountain.
The amount and necessity for accumulated transportation has been greatly increased by permitting the Army to feed and forage upon the neighborhood where stationed, each succeeding day widening the circle which it exhausts, and to the same extent protracting the distance for transportation, in addition to destroying the source of supply by taking from the country its present subsistence, and its means for furnishing another crop.
This system enhances the price of all products to the Army and the inhabitants, until, forced to abandon their residences, they emigrate in pursuit of cheap food, and leave their homes depopulated. By adopting a different policy, with the judicious use of railways to penetrate the productive regions, and by the aid of wagon transportation, connecting with the neighboring granaries, the supply might be rendered regular, cheap, and of better quality.
Hospitals and stations. -Connected with, and auxiliary to, this subject, the committee advise that hospitals and stations for the wounded, sick, and convalescent should be provided at a distance from the camps or crowded cities wherever pure aid, good water, and an abundance of food would recommend them, leaving for the use of the able, active soldier a large quantity of food and transportation, and removing from the Army an incubus which, with its limited transportation, renders rapid movement impracticable.
Transport trains. -Transportation being the motive power of the Army, without it the most thoroughly organized and disciplined corps is useless and its services unavailable. To be efficient it should be systematized and trained to a performance of its duties. Competent wagon-masters should be selected, and an enlisted or hired number of teamsters engaged, who, by their skill, attention, and adaptation to this service, would faithfully perform their obligations.
The custom of detailing volunteers for this service is fraught with trouble; horses, harness, and wagons are neglected until a movement is required, when the death, disease, or starved condition of the horses, the loss of harness and breakage of wagons, render it impossible, or its performance so defective that suffering to the sick, loss of baggage to the well, and discomfiture to the designs best arranged and matured are the probable results.
Payment of troops and creditors. -Admitting the efficiency of the Quartermaster's Department, as at present constituted for a peace establishment, to be equal to the duties with which it is charged, it would be relieved of much of the embarrassment and complication caused by the magnitude of the present war should a separate pay department by established.