[JUNE 24, 1863.]
[Major General GEORGE H. THOMAS.]
GENERAL: I have traveled over the railroads in East Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama, and am able to make the following report:
On the railroad leading from Chattanooga to Knoxville there are 19 engines employed, 12 of which are nearly unfit for service, and the balance considerably worn. There are three stone and two wooden bridges on this road; the latter are over the Tennessee and Hiawassee Rivers; both covered. The Hiawassee Bridge is guarded by about 50 men, and the Tennessee by 500 men, at Loundon.
On the road from Knoxville to Lynchburg, Va., there are 12 engines, 3 of which are good and the others scarcely fit for use. On that road there are two important bridges across the Holston and Watauga Rivers. They are new wooden bridges-uncovered trestle-work-having been rebuilt since destroyed by General Carter last winter. On the Western and Atlantic road, leading from Atlanta to Chattanooga, there are 34 engines, two-thirds of which are nearly unfit for use. On this road are thirteenth wooden bridges-uncovered trestle-work-within 30 miles of Chattanooga. On South Chickamauga River there is also one important wooden bridge, not far from Atlanta. On the Georgia road, leading from Atlanta to Savannah, there are 53 engineers, three fourths of which are badly damaged.
On the road leading from Atlanta to Mobile there were at the time I passed over it about 70 engineers employed, some of which had been brought from other roads to assist in moving troops to General Johnston. This has been a very important road to them, and the only road by which they can move their troops eastward and northward from Mississippi. Seventy miles of this road is 6 inches wider in the track than the balance of the road, and causes them a great deal of inconvenience in transportation, as they have only 6 engines and a small number of cars that suit this wide portion of the road. On all road in Alabama and Mississippi west of a line running north from Mobile they have a large amount of rolling-stock. I counted 220 engines they have in the was occupied by the Federal army, they have remained there since, because they could not get them away without taking them apart and transporting them in pieces across the bay at Mobile, and even then they could not get them across the river at West Point, Ga., because of the wide track before spoken of; and in order to get these engines away, and have a road 500 miles shorter from Mississippi to Atlanta, Ga., they have built a road from Macon, Miss., or Meridian, to Selma, Ala.; thence, by way of Jacksonville and Talladega, to Rome, Ga. This road is not quite finished to Rome, but will be in about one mouth. If they can hold Mississippi, this will be a very important road; if not, if would be of but little use, unless they should make a stand near Selma, Ala. The completion of this road at this time is the only thing that will enable them to get the engines before mentioned into the heart of the Confederacy.
The road from Rome to the Western and Atlantic Railroad, from Chattanooga to Atlanta, has 15 engines; no bridges. At the present time they are using 26 engines from Chattanooga to Tullahoma. The bridge on this road across Chattanooga Creek, near Chattanooga, ought to be destroyed, if possible. It would not only cut off Bragg's supplies, but also the supply of coal for nearly all the furnaces in the South. I would say in reference to all the engines spoken of that two-thirds of them are badly damaged and the remainder much worn, being scarcely fit for