War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0167 Chapter XXIII. GENERAL REPORTS.

Search Civil War Official Records

that city it was amply supplied with subsistence from the depots established by the department at the city, Alexandria, and Forts Runyon and Corcoran. Commissaries of subsistence of the volunteer service reporting for duty with this army were, with their clerks, first sent to the depot at Alexandria, Va., for instruction, and afterwards assigned to brigades. Much attention was given to them by the officers in charge of the depot, and great good has resulted to the service from this system, which is yet continued in all practicable cases.

To be prepared for the probable future movements of the army, in February of last year more than 600,000 complete rations were loaded on six propellers at New York and sent to Alexandria, Va., to be in readiness to accompany the troop transports when they should sail. These stores were intended for immediate issue to the several commands at their points of landing. In addition to the stores just named 2,500,000 complete rations were loaded on vessels at New York and sent to Fort Monroe, Va., to await further orders.

About the middle of March, so soon as the movement of the army to the Peninsula was determined upon, a large quantity of subsistence stores was dispatched from Washington by steamers and barges in tow of steamers to Fort Monroe, Va. The stores in the steamers were to supply the additional demands that would be made for rations at that post. The barge with their cargoes were to be towed, as the army advanced up the Peninsula, to points of landing on the Chesapeake Bay and the York and Pamunkey Rivers the most convenient for issuing stores, and which might be accessible only by vessels of light draught. During the period of preparation beef cattle were shipped from Baltimore and New York to Fort Monroe, and kept in depot at the latter place for the future use of the Army of the Potomac.

In the desire to be prepared for any emergency Captain [now Lieutenant Colonel] George Bell, commissary of subsistence, U. S. Army, was relieved from the charge of the depot at Alexandria, and directed to make arrangements to establish depots on short notice at any points at the terminus of water transportation that might thereafter be designated. How well be complied with those directions will appear in the course of this report.

Orders were issued that each command in embarking should carry with it not less than six day's rations, at least three days of them to be cooked and in the haversacks of the men. On the 18th day of March, 1862, the first troops [a division of Heintzelman's corps] left Alexandria for Fort Monroe, and other portions of the army followed as fast as transports were furnished. March 23 Captain Bell, accompanied by Captain [now Lieutenant Colonel] A. P. Porter, commissary of subsistence, U. S. Army, and a large force of clerks and laborers, left Washington for Fort Monroe, and arrived at the latter place the next day, having under his control the six propellers laden with subsistence stores. While at Fort Monroe-from March 24 to April 5-Captain Bell and party assisted Captain [now Lieutenant Colonel] J. McL. Taylor, commissary of subsistence, U. S. Army, depot commissary, in issuing subsistence to the troops as they arrived and were established in camps in the vicinity of that post at Hampton and Newport News and in discharging vessels laden with subsistence stores.

The army having advanced to the vicinity of Yorktown, Captain Bell was directed to establish a depot at Ship Point, Poquosin River. He arrived with his party and a number of vessels laden with subsistence stores at the place designated on the evening of April 5. On the 6th a wharf was constructed with barges and plank obtained from the