Washington City, January 30, 1865.
Brigadier General R. INGALLS,
Chief Quartermaster, Armies before Richmond, City Point, Va.:
Dispatch of this date received. On my return from Savannah I find Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and Alexandria closed by ice, and these late movements of troops on an extensive scale, for which no previous notice was given, have occupied all the ocean steam vessels of the country, to the temporary interruption of most private lines. These movements have also exhausted the accumulated stock of coal at Fort Monroe, City Point, and Annapolis, while the ice blockade of Philadelphia has prevented the shipment of the usual current supply. General Thomas informs me that coal has already been ordered to Fortress Monroe from New York. The attempt to open the port of Baltimore, and to send coal both by water and by rail from that point to Annapolis, will be made, and, if successful;l, this will enable the steamers now at Fort Monroe to start from Annapolis with troops. When I left here early in January I understood that the stock at Fort Monroe and at Washington and Alexandria was large and sufficient for all anticipated wants. I trust that the present difficulty will not continue long. There is hope that the Delaware will be opened shortly, and the present indications are that the Potomac will soon be opened again. It is of great importance that all steamers transporting troops or supplies should be unloaded as rapidly as possible and returned for further use. The supply, &c., for Sherman's army at Savannah has engaged many ocean steamers and a large fleet of sailing vessels. The steamers as they return are drawn off for coastwise expeditions, of which you doubtless have knowledge. Even in New York it has at times lately been impossible to coal in steamers ordered to sea, in consequence of heavy ice in the harbor. If there has been defective supply I incline to think it has been due to want of notice of movements on a great scale, which could no more be anticipated by the Quertermater's Department than by those who command the troops.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
M. C. MEIGS,
Quartermaster-General, Brevet Major-General.
OFFICE OF CHIEF QUARTERMASTER, ARMIES OPERATING AGAINST RICHMOND,
City Point, Va., February 2, 1865.
Respectfully referred to General Rawlins, chief of staff, for the information of the lieutenant-general commanding the Armies of the United States.
The letter is in reply to my dispatch calling for transports, and reporting great scarcity of coal. Colonel Biggs informs me that he could have had coal enough delivered here before the cold weather had the orders of General Thomas, then Acting Quartermaster-General, authorized him so to do. I am satisfied that there never was any good reason for the scarcity of either forage or coal, though I do not charge General Meigs with the responsibility. The supply will doubtless be ample and constant hereafter, so soon as the Delaware and Potomac are free of ice.
Brigadier-General, Chief Quartermaster.