commissary's depots to be located under their protection. This point will be our base supplies, and about for gunboats will be our principal fortification to guard it.
Let 20,000 recruits be added to the army, whose primary duty it shall be to make roads, but who may be called upon to fight in case of absolute necessity.
The road shall lead toward Richmond, or possibly to Ashland or Hanover Junction. The army will protect the working parties. Now, I will be asked, What kind of roads will you build, and how fast can you build them? The answer is, that i would build two roads, both of them with a double to march in sections of 8; one road to be used by the trains advancing, the other by those returning.
As to the nature of the construction, that will depend upon circumstances. Where the soil is sandy, a good road can always be easily made if we only throw up the roadway a foot or 18 inches above the natural surface and pay proper attention to the drainage. I understand that much of the country through which our road would pass is of that nature, and, if so, much of our road would be very simple. Where the soil is swampy and the roadway would have to be raised above the water, we would resort to corduroying, but this, in order that it may stand the travel of a large army, should be carefully put down and always be supported on longitudinal timbers or stringers. It was just this oversight, the omission of the longitudinal timbers, that coursed the fearful roads we had while we were before Yorktown. A corduroy road, if carefully built, is a very good military road, particularly if the logs be covered with about 6 inches of brush, and then with about 6 inches of almost any kind of earth over the brush. In a wooded country, with a large force, it can be made very rapidly.
Where timber is scare and the soil is not sandy, I would resort to plank roads. By seizing all the saw-mils in the vicinity of our route, and importing forty of fifty schooners-loads of 3-inch plank, and timber suitable for bridging, we could readily obtain a sufficient supply of lumber for all the plank roads that would be necessary. A schooner of 225 tons will carry enough lumber for 1 mile of single-track plank road; thirty-six such schooner-loads would, therefore, build us a single track plank road the whole way from Rappahannock to Hanover Junction, or one-fourth of the whole quantity of road that it would be necessary to build.
This estimate is based on the supposition that the plank is 3 inches thick and 8 1/2 feet long, whereas plank roads are usually built of plank of only 2 inches in thickness and 8 feet in length.
As to the time required to make the proposed road, i am of the opinion, judging from my experience in making roads with soldiers since the war commenced, that we may safely say that each man can make 15 inches of road per day. This may seem like a very small estimate, and it is small. I am aware that there will be many places-where the soil is sandy, or where the common roads of the common roads of the country lend themselves in sandy, or where the common roads of the country lend themselves in direction to the route of our proposed road-that a man can easily make 3 feet of road per day, but, on the other hand, there will be streams to cross, swamps to pass, and culverts to build, which will require more labor, and retard the work probably to the above estimate. assuming this, therefore, viz, 15 inches of road per man day as a safe standard, it follows, as there are 5,280 feet in 1 mile, that 4,224 men will make 1 mile of road in one day, or 8,448 will make 2 miles of the road in one day, and that double the number of men (or 16,896 men) will duplicate