During the late movements of General Sherman in pursuit of the rebel army, aftf Atlanta, his communications having been destroyed by the operations of the enemy, his army has supplied itself with forage almost entirely from the hostile country, and it has been abundantly supplied.
Before the victory at Chattanooga, in November, 1863, there was much loss of animals in the Army of the Cumberland for want of forage. After that date, the communications being opened and improved, that army was refitted wight trains and animals, and there has been no scarcity. The other armies have been constantly and abundantly supplied throughout the year.
The reports of the total quantities of forage purchased and forwarded to the armies are imperfect as yet. They indicate that about 20,000,000 bushels of oats and corn and about 200,000 tons furnished by the depots.
The trains of the armies of the United States as organized, with the benefit of the long experience in operations upon the Western plains, and the greater experience of the present war, are nearly perfect. The wagons, harness, and other material are strong, durable, and simple in construction and repair.
The wagons and harness are of the model long used with success in movements of troops upon the high and arid plains at the base of the Rocky Mountains and among the rough defiles of that great chain. The wheels, axles, and other principal parts are made with such accuracy as to interchange. Portable forges, with boxes of smiths", wheelwrights", carpenters", and saddlers" tools, accompany all the larger divisions of the trains, and spare parts and materials for repair are carried with them. Thus, any ordinary repairs can be made during the night halt, and it is seldom that it is really necessary for an efficient and intelligent officer to abandon a wagon on the march.
There has been purchased during the year about 9,500 army wagons, 1,100 ambulances, and harness for 175,000 animals.
CAVALRY, ARTILLERY, AND TRAIN ANIMALS.
The special reports of animals and means of transportation with the several armies during trfect, and the accounts and returns of officers which contain the exact information have not yet received their final examination; but I estimate, from such inspection of the reports as I have been able to effect, that there are about 300,000 horses and mules in the service of the Army, of which the horses are about 170,000 and the mules about 130,000.
The reports received from armies numbering 426,000 enlisted men show that there were present with the armies 221,059 animals; among which there are 113,684 serviceable horses and 87,791 serviceable mules.
The remainder were oxen and unserviceable horses and mules.
With the armies there were present 17,478 army wagons of the transport train, exclusive of ambulances and of the artillery carriages, caissons, limbers, &c.
refore, in practice that the quartermaster's train of an army requires on the average one army wagon to every twenty-four or twenty-five men, and that the animals of the cavalry and artillery and of the trains will average one to every two men in the field.