and informed him that I had been ordered to aid him in repairing the railroad between Bridgeport and Chattanooga.
This i at once proceeded to do. When this duty was completed, presuming that the whole force would them be put upon the whole line between Nashville and Chattanooga, it was tendered to Mr. Anderson, but for some reasons to me unknown, he declined to adopt this course. It was therefore order by Major-General Thomas, with the concurrence of Mr. Anderson,t hat the force be taken from the Nashville and Chattanooga lines and put upon the repairs of the road between Chattanooga and Knoxville, Mr. Anderson taking the whole responsibility of repairs of the road is use, and to make such requisition for men and tools as might be in my power to meet.
The road between Nashville and Chattanooga is still inn bad condition,a nd in my opinion no energetic means have been taken to put it in rear. The iron and cross-ties on the McMinnville and Trenton branches are to be taken up and used in repairing the main lines, but as yet, as far as my knowledge extends, no movements of that sort have been made, and although the trains are run only at the rate of 8 miles per hour between Nashville and Chattanooga, accidents are frequent. In my opinion, it will be true economy to relay the whole line with new rails as soon as the latter can be procured.
I would recommend that the rolling-mill, partially constructed by the rebels at this place, be completed as soon as possible, for the purpose of rerolling the worn-out rails, coal being contiguous and abundant. This would not only be economy, but would enable the government to have rails on hand for any probable contingency. The cost of rerolling the old iron would not be greater per ton than the expense of transportating new rails from the sea-board to this point, thus saving the original coast of the iron, beside the great advantage of having the rails in hand when and where required. It is reasonable to assume that the railroad south of this are badly worn out, which furnished an additional argument in favor of the rolling-mill. I am informed that this point will be used as an importance base of supplies; this will cause a large amount of rollingstock to center here, requiring the necessary shops and machinery for repairs. I cannot discover that measures have been taken to meet this want. The shops at Nashville are very deficient and immediate means should be taken to increase the facilities there.
When the Northwestern Railroad and the line from Chattanooga to Knoxville are completed the following lines will be in operation:
North Railroad, from Nashville to the Tennessee River.......72
Nashville to Chattanooga...................................151
Nashville to Stevenson, via Decatur........................185
Chattanooga to Knoxville...................................111
To work these lines I am informed that there is on hand, or will be soon, seventy locomotives and six hundred freight cars. This supply is entirely inadequate. I may say here that on certain emergences we have had in use between Washington and Culpeper sixty locomotives and eight hundred cars, a distance of 70 miles. It is true this was en extreme case, but one not unlikely to occur on all military railroads. The railroad from Aquia Creek to Falmouth, distance 14 miles, required at times fourteen locomotives and one hundred and sixty-five cars.