the Middle Department. On the 26th of that month, however, I was ordered West to assume charge of this depot and department as chief quartermaster of depots and senior and supervising quartermaster of the Department of the Cumberland. Arriving here soon after, I proceeded at once to the front and reported in person to yourself, then at Chattanooga, Tenn., and to Major General George H. Thomas, commanding Department of the cumberland, then also at Chattanooga. As you will well remember, the Army of the Cumberland was then grouped in and about Chattanooga, with Bragg closely hemming it in on all sides, except the slender line of supplies that extended back to Bridgeport and Stevenson. The disaster at Chickamauga had broken its spirits and diminished its numbers, and supplies of all kinds were so deficient in quantity that the enemy confidently hoped for a speedy surrender or disastrous evacuation. And in this the rebels were not without fair and reasonable grounds. Our army was barefoot and in rags. The soldiers were already on half rations and with no prospect of an increase or even of maintaining the allowance they had. Mules and horses, even of the artillery and cavalry, were already dying by scores daily, for the want of forage. As you yourself assured me, at least 10,000 had already perished from pure starvation, and our only means of supplies was either by a long and difficult wagon road over a precipitous mountain to Stevenson, sixty-five miles away, or by a horrible road, seven miles away, to Kelley's Ferry, and thence by steam-boat seventy miles to Bridgeport. At Bridgeport and Stevenson, even, supplies were very deficient, as the average run of cars over the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad was but about forty cars daily, when it required fully 100 per day to supply the army.
The railroad itself was beset with the worst irregularities. The mails were usually a week in making the distance from Nashville to Chattanooga, only 151 miles, and there was loud and almost universal outcry from the army against the robbery and theft that prevailed on the trains as regards both private and public stores. My duty was to correct these evils, to accumulate stores here, and to so strengthen and prefect the line of supplies that the army might not only maintain itself at Chattanooga, but ultimately repel the enemy, attack in turn, and drive him back on or beyond Atlanta when the hour should come. When I left you at Chattanooga to return to Nashville, charged with the execution of these duties, I confess I felt appalled and almost disheartened at the magnitude of the work before me. However, I took hold, resolved to do the best I could, believing that by the correction of small evils from week to week I should eventually overcome the whole an dint he end secure the great results called for by the army and the country. My first attention was directed to officers on duty at this depot, whom I found in offices scattered over half the town. To expedite the public business and have my officers in reach when wanted I at once took possession of the necessary buildings and consolidated all of the offices except one within the compass of an ordinary block. This done, I called for reports of supplies on hand, in order to know what we actually had and thus enable me to estimate intelligently for the future. I next set about procuring a roster of the officers in the department, in order to know what tools I had to work with, as no records were to be had here and nobody seemed to know how many officers were actually available, where they were onhey were worth.
As the matter nearest in hand and of the first importance to everybody, I at once took hold of the mails, in order to push them through to Chattanooga within a reasonable time. Placing a competent man in