our trains are never in the way of the troops; on the contrary, each corps has its train which follows it on the march, and which forms its indispensable, movable magazine of supplies. Wagon trains should never be permitted to approach within the range of battle-fields. They should be parked in safe and convenient places out of risk, and well guarded. Troops should go forward to battle lightly loaded, and without wagons except for extra ammunition. If they are successful, the trains can be brought up very quickly. If defeated, they will find an unobstructed road, and will get back to their wagons soon enough.
In all our engagements this precaution has been observed. At the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville wagons were not permitted to cross the river except on special order and for some pressing necessity.
At the great battle of Gettysburg I had the trains of the whole army parked at Westminster, on the Baltimore Branch Railroad and pike, at a distance of 25 miles from the field, guarded by cavalry and artillery. It would appear that the Army of the Cumberland could not have observed this essential rule, since reports show a great loss of trains during the recent conflicts between Chickamauga and Chattanooga.
The experiences of this army by land and water during the past two years give it some right to speak with weight on the subject of transportation. On the 14th of June we broke up our headquarters camp near Falmouth, and pursued the route by Dumfries, Fairfax, Leesburg, Edwards Ferry, and Poolesville, to Frederick City, on our second Maryland campaign. The army was in excellent condition, our transportation was perfect, and our sources of supply same as in first campaign The officers of our department were thoroughly trained in their duties. It was almost as east to maneuver the trains as the troops. It is, therefore, unnecessary to go further into the details of the march.
The rebel army had again invaded Maryland, and had even advanced as far as Carlisle and York, in Pennsylvania. The Army of the Potomac was again in pursuit of its inveterate foe, and finally met him in pitched battle of three days' fighting, and compelled him again to recross the Potomac.
General Meade, justly the conqueror and hero of Gettysburg, assumed command of the army on the 28th of June.
On the last day of the fiscal year, two days later, I was at Taneytown with headquarters of the army.
I have been in the battles of South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville during the year ending June 30, 1863.
While on Peninsular affairs, I omitted to state that white laborers were soon found to give out from sickness and exhaustion at our depots on the Peninsula. While at White House I took effective measures to secure the services of contrabands, drawn mostly from the vicinity. They proved invaluable, though we thus became encumbered with many women and children. On the evacuation of White House I took away all my colored force, and increased it very considerably while at Harrison's Landing by sending for the Peninsula I must have taken away 2,500 males. The women and children were provided for near Fortress Monroe. Many of these negroes have other situations now; but we still retain, at our depots here, some 1,250; they are industrious,obedient, and tractable. They are considered free, and obtain $20 per month for their services. This narrative covers the chief events of the fiscal year.