Decatur to Pulaski is swampy, it does not seem advisable to build block-houses at every railroad trestle. It would be better to place these structures at or near the principal bridges and stations, the sites being selected with some view to health, avoiding low swampy positions and river bottoms. One-half the number designed will be sufficient between Pulaski and Stevenson. Several little streams are quite close to each other, so that one block-house garrison might guard the bridges on either side. For example, after leaving Decatur Junction, in a distance of three miles, five block-houses have been designed to defend as many bridges. Before reaching, Decatur, there are four bridges in a length of three and a quarter miles. I think, therefore, that the number of block-houses in this unhealthy region may be diminished, and safety at the same time secured. I have no doubt that the block-house system is the best for protecting the railroad line, so long as such protection may be needed.
In concluding this series of reports upon the defenses of the Department of the Cumberland, it gives me pleasure to bear testimony to the great amount of labor expended upon them, both at the principal depots and upon the long lines of communication. These lines have been well protected against guerrilla bands and large raiding detachments. Many of the less important works have been executed under commanding officers of posts, of limited experience, and it could not be expected that they would be scientifically planned and thoroughly finished, with all the interior structures essential to convenience, protection, and strength. That would have required the constant superintendence of skilled engineers, whereas fe were available, and a greater amount of labor than could be obtained, especially from small commands far back on the lines of communication and free from the pressure of an enemy's presence. The application of the double-cased block-house to the protection of the railroad bridges is very creditable to Colonel Merrill and his assistant, Major Willett, who for the past year has superintended railroad defenses in this department. Captain Barlow, of the Corps of Engineers, has had charge of the defenses of Nashville since November last, and has performed his trust ably and faithfully. General Morton while with the Army of the Cumberland was chief engineer and directed the earlier works of the Department. He was assisted at times by Lieutenant Burroughs and Lieutenant Willett. As the principal works of the department will be held for a year, perhaps permanently, it is proper that their garrisons should gradually improve, strengthen and finish them. The interior keep is essential to the strength of field redoubts of weak profile and without flanking arrangements. I doubt if any other military department has been more thoroughly defended during the war by block-houses and redoubts than the Department of the Cumberland. Sketches of Dalton, Huntsville, Decatur, Athens, Columbia, Franklin, and Gallatin accompanying this report.*
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Z. B. TOWER,
Brigadier General and Insp. General of Fortifications, Mild. Div. of the Miss.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE CUMBERLAND, Numbers 57.
Nashville, June 10, 1865.
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II. The Tenth Tennessee Cavalry having reported at these headquarters in accordance with orders received from Major-General Canby,
*See Plate CXV, maps 3 to 9, of the Atlas.