War of the Rebellion: Serial 109 Page 0618 SW. VA., KY., TENN., MISS., ALA., w. FLA.,& N. GA. Chapter LXIV.

Search Civil War Official Records

charge, recommended to me by the postmaster here, I gave him a full corps of assistants and plenary powers to call on all officers of the quartermaster's department for whatever aid was actually needed. The arrangements worked well, and it was not long before the trip to Chattanooga, even by the tedious route of railroad to Bridgeport, boat to Kelley's Ferry, and wagon thence to Chattanooga, was made within some twenty-four hours. Soon all complaints on this score ceased, and after a month or two of successful operations that Post-Office Department felt willing to resume the duty and thus relieve me of work not properly belonging to the quartermaster's department, but which the major-general commanding had directed it to assume. Meanwhile my greatest and most earnest attention was required by and given to the railroads. The problem was to supply not only the army then at Chattanooga, but those also of the Tennessee and the Ohio, then on the march for that locality. The Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, a rickety, stringer-tie, dilapidated affairs, never worth much before the rebellion, and well used up in supplying Bragg before he fell back across the Tennessee, was the only line available, and this was practicable only to Bridgeport, from which point Chattanooga was reached only by boat and wagon. To work this road, as nearly as I could ascertain, I had, November 1, 1863, about thirty indifferent locomotives and perhaps 350 cars of all descriptions. Of these, perhaps one-half of each were to be depended on, and the balance had been off the track, upset, and damaged generally, so seriously that they could hardly be reckoned as among the resources of the road. As an officer one day well remarked to me, the whole line of the road was a vast cemetery of rolling-stock. A better idea of the state of the road and of the condition of its rolling-stock will probably be had when I say that for the month of November my daily run of cars did not average over forty-five, though it required 100 to supply the army.

By November 1 there were two steam-boats on the Tennessee, the Paint Rock and the Dunbar, each capable of carrying about 200 tons and of making the trip from Bridgeport to Chattanooga in about twenty-four hours, but three more boats were sharply under way. Much of the work on these and the reconstruction of the railroad from Bridgeport to Chattanooga was directed by the Quartermaster-General in person and Lieutenant Colonel (now Colonel) L. C. Easton, then chief quartermaster. Army of the Cumberland, but now chief quartermaster of General Sherman's army, to both of whom I feel greatly indebted for encouragement and assistance at this gloomy period. The speedy completion of these light-draft steam-boats to run upon the Tennessee River helped us much. Still I saw clearly that there was no practicable relief for the army at Chattanooga until the railroad was thoroughly overhauled, its working reformed, and its rolling-stock largely increased. Not satisfied with the officer in charge of transportation on the railroad, I soon relieved him and assigned another officer to duty there, whom in turn I had to relieve as unused to railroading, though not without talent and knowledge of the department in other respects. As a dernier resort I sent my own assistant, then Captain John C. Crane, assistant quartermaster volunteer, but now colonel and inspector, quartermaster's department, to take full charge, and invested him with plenary powers to correct all abuses and reorganize the transportation department from end to end. Captain Crane had already had some experience in railroading as post quartermaster at Frederick, Md., and he possessed a tireless energy and industry that well fitted him for the place. To his hands was thus committed all railroad transportation, both freight and passenger, whether