local quartermasters and commissaries must give way before the requirements of a service far more imperative than it has ever been before. Trains have frequently been detained for hours to move supplies for very short distances, to save hauling. I desire, respectfully, but most urgently, to impress upon you the importance of making your orders so peremptory that they date not be disobeyed, and that cars shall, on their arrival at each and every depot, be immediately unloaded and returned. I say, again, that without this, the supply of your army is impossible. No man living can accomplish it.
A second point to which I wish to direct your attention is the importance of establishing a depot of reserve supplies at Manassas, to draw upon in case of any break in the road between Manassas and Alexandria; and, as the army advances, depots at intervals of 30 or 40 miles should be made, to guard against the consequences of breaks in the connection. If you advance far, the operation of the road will present greater difficulties; its protection against raids will be almost impossible and the breaks of connection will become frequent, from various causes not dependent on the movements of the enemy.
The difficulty of operating a long line of railroad with an exposed flank satisfies me that the reconstruction of the Fredericksburg Railroad, so uselessly destroyed, is a military necessity. If this is your opinion, please advise me of the fact, that no time may be lost in preparation. The last time I spoke to General Halleck on this subject, he said that the question of reconstructing this road was not settled; when it was, he would advise me. Since then I have not heard from him, but I am sure that when you advance the Orange and Alexandria alone will be a very insecure reliance.
The subject of guarding the railroad is a very important one, but no detention of trains by guards on any pretext should be permitted. The proper protection of the road between Alexandria and Manassas requires that the line of the Occoquan should be well watched.
As other duties will prevent me from seeing you for some days, I hope you will not consider these suggestions and statements as out of place.
Brigadier-General, in Charge of Construction and Operation of U. S. Military Railroads.
ALEXANDRIA DEPOT, November 9, 1862-6 p.m.
Brigadier-General, 20 K Street:
Broad Run Bridge will be finished to-night. We are now loading iron ties here to send beyond Bristoe, to relay 1 mile of track, destroyed when trains were burned. Expect to get ready by noon to-morrow to run trains to Warrenton. It is hopeless to expect to supply demands with out main passing point at Manassas blocked, and our arrangements interfered with, as they have been every day, by the delay in unloading. After blocking the line all the forenoon, at 2.47 Stowe telegraphed, "Captain Rusling is issuing hay from the cars, and making no effort whatever, to have them unloaded, but insists upon having them placed to suit his convenience." If possible, I beg to suggest that General Halleck be advised, and an order issued by him to insure prompt and immediate unloading.
J. H. D.