ing the President authority to take military possession of them, a general order was issued taking technically such military possession, yet they have practically continued under the control of their directors and managers, who have cheerfully met every demand.
Some of the military railroads have been repeatedly interrupted; some have at times been abandoned by our troops, and afterward reoccupied and repaired again and again.
The Aquia Creek Railroads, from Aquia Creek, on the Potomac, to Falmouth, opposite Fredericksburg, has been several time reoccupied and repaired. The last time this was done was during the campaign of this spiring, when, with extraordinary energy, it was repaired, including the rebuilding of the Potomac Creek bridge, 414 feet in length and 82 feet in height, which was accomplished in the short space of forty hours. The road itself, thirteen miles in length, was opened within five days after the order to commence work upon it was given.
The movements of the Army of the Potomac and its change of base caused the abandonment of the road almost immediately after it was opened; but the cost of construction was repaid by the removalsand men wounded in the battles of the Wilderness, who without the aid of this road must have been abandoned in the hospital improvised in Fredericksburg. All the machinery rolling stock so quickly placed upon the road was brought off without loss. The bridges were left to their fate.
The rebel armies have no construction corps organized under a general system and capable of accomplishing such results. To the rapidity of the reconstruction of the railroads behind General Sherman's army is due much of the success of his movements, which surprised the enemy, who supposed that the work of repair, which was never five days behind the army, would have detained it for weeks.
The expense of these operations has been great; but without it the campaign would have been impossible, and failure would have been m.
The requisitions for construction, maintenance, and operation of the military telegraph during the fiscal year amounted to $606,000. Of this sum there was applied to purchase of material $206,000, the balance being absorbed by wages of operators and incidental expenses.
There were in operation during the year 6,500 miles of military telegraph, of which 76 miles are submarine.
One-half of the above, or 3,000 miles, of which 38 were submarine, was constructed during the war.
About 1,000 persons have been constantly employed in this service.
One million eight hundred thousand telegraphic message were transmitted during the year.
The average cost of these messages, therefore, charging the whole yearly expense of construction, maintenance, and operation to them, would be only 30 cents.
The operations of the military telegraph under the superintendence of Colonel Anson Stager, superintendent, and Major Thomas T. Eckert, the assistant superintendent at the War Department, have been conducted with fidelity and skill. The operators have shown great zeal, intrepidity, and fidelity. Their duties are arduous, and the trust reposed in them is great. I have seen a telegraph operator in charge of a station in a tent, pitched from necessity a malarious locality,