dier-General Geary, its commanding officer, will report by letter to Major-General Slocum, commanding Twelfth Army Corps, the arrival of the brigades at the places designated.
By command of Major-General Thomas:
Major and Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS U. S. QUARTERMASTER'S DEPARTMENT,
In the Field, Chattanooga, December 23, 1863.
Be good enough to direct your chief quartermaster in the field to send me by courier a statement of your available means of transportation, and the route over which your army has been supplied heretofore.
I understand that General Burnside hauled all supplied from the rear, from Danville via Cumberland Gap. The Nashville and Bridgeport Railroad is insufficient to supply the army and depot at Chattanooga, and when any stores or supplied are sent to you by this route it is at present done at the cost of starvation to our animals or short rations to our men; therefore, it is important to keep open for a time land routes from the rear to Knoxville.
Whenever the railroads via Bridgeport and Decatur are not only repaired but rebuilt, we shall be able by them and by stem-boats to supply East Tennessee. Until this is done whatever transportation you have heretofore used to bring up supplies should be kept in use for that purpose.
At this season perhaps pack-mules would do better than wagons, yet the road is represented as being tolerably good from Sligo or Caney Fork to Kingston, distance less than 100 miles. To Sligo at present there is navigation.
When the Caney Fork falls the land route from Carthage or from Celina should be used.
Trains should move in large convoys, well guarded, and supplied with axes, spades, and picks, one to each wagon. A judicious officer commanding the convoy could make the road practicable for his trains, provided he did not move during rains or immediately thereafter. We are doing all that is possible to repair railroads, but the Nashville and Chattanooga road will not be reliable until entirely reconstructed. Trains are off the track every day. We are building steam-boats, and expect you to build at Kingston the hulls for three boats to be sent to Bridgeport, to receive engines. The Chattanooga, a very light boat of about 100 tons, can be used principally between this place and Loudon, whenever you have railroad communication, but the supplies she takes you are so much of real necessity taken from the stores of this army.
Both routes from Nashville are needed for efficient service at present. If it be decided to employ pack-mules, and I do not believe such a decision would be wise, there are pack-saddles in depot at Saint Louis. I think it better, however, if possible, to send your trains to Sligo under escort, with orders to repair the roads on their way, and to telegraph Nashville to send supplies by steamer to that place.
M. C. MEIGS,
(Copy to Colonel J. L. Donaldson December 24, 1863.)