Military organization of quartermaster's emplyes.-I early recognized the advantage of organizing my employes into a military force, and in May, 1864, when General Sherman advanced from Chattanooga, and the garrison at Nashville was reduced to a low figure, I perfected the organization and regularly drilled it. (See my order, Numbers 17, of May 17, 1864, and subsequent reports forwarded to your office.) The first practical advnatage derived from this force was in September, when Nashville was threatend by the rebel General Wheeler. My men turned out with alacrity, and no doubt would have behved well had the necessity arisen. As it was, the enemy retreated after coming within six miles of the city. Later, when Johnsonville, Tenn., was attacked by General Forrest, one of my regiments volunteered to defend it, took its place in the trenches, was under heavy fire, lost several of its members, and behavewd well, as all concur in saying. Again, on the 30th of November, when Hood advanced on Nashville, my entire force of near 7,000 men was moved into the trenches, and in eight days had constructed more than two miles of work. The service thus rendered was acknowledged in the following note from Brigadier General Z. B. Tower, inspector-general of fortifications, Military Division of the Mississippi:
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
OFFICE INSPECTOR-GENERAL OF FORTIFIATIONS,
Nashville, Tenn., Decembere 8, 1864.
Bvt. Brigadier General J. L. DONALDSON,
Chief Quartermaster, Department of the Cumberland:
GENERAL: It gives me great plesure to acknowledge and thank you for the services of your department in throwing up a girdle of rifle-pits, infantry intrenchments, and batteries around the city of Nashville during the past eight days, an I for furnishing number and other materials so much needed. A large part of this line is connected with the adopted line of defense of the city, and will be finished as a permanent construction. Please express to your department my cordial thanks and appreciation of their invaluable services.
With respect, your obedient servant,
Z. B. TOWER,
Brigadier General and Inspector-General of Fortifications, Mil. Div. of the Mississippi.
Finally, General Thomas assigned the forces of the quartermaster's department a position in his line of battle before Nashville December 15 and 16, 1864 (see his order of battle marked Exhibit Numbers 1*), and it took its place in the trenches while the bttle lasted, holding two miles of w orks, and releasing a like number of troops who would otherwise have been held in reserve. This is the first time the department has been thus recognized by a commanding gneerla, and I desire to thank General Thomas for the compliment paid it. Other military service was performed by the organization, but it was of small moment, such as scouting and furnishing sentinels and escorts when the garrison of Nashville was unable to furnish them from its own forces. Allt hings considered, I think the organization was a decided success, and recommend it to be generally adopted where there are a sufficient number to make it an object.
Hospital for emplyes.-The large number of men in the employ of the quartemaster's department at Nashville and elsewhere early necessitated the establihment of hospitals. Heretofore the men when taken sick were sent to some one of the numerous army hospitals. The consequence was the department lost sight, and somethimes trace, of the men, who after a long time would be found acting as nurses or mechanics in some general hospital, when theyshould have been sent to their proper duties, an expensive arrangement, to say the least. To obviate
*See Special Field Orders, Numbers 342, VOL. XLV, Part II, p. 183.