over it, they considered it altogether out of the question. It was discovered, however, that engines hauled and average of fifteen loaded cars per train, and in many twenty-three loaded cars, with one of our ordinary engines, thus demonstrating the practicability of supplying a large army over a temporary road constructed in this manner. The total length of track laid on Army Line, branches, and sidings was 21 miles 3,955 feet, and total length of trestle work, 1 mile 1,393 feet, an average of twenty-one feet high.
Not much of note in railroad affairs occurred from February 28 to April 3. The construction department was kept busy making additional improvements wherever needed, and building a wharf at City Point, in the gap between the quartermaster's and railroad wharves. i also increased our force and made heavy additions to our rolling-stock, iron, timber, and other material in anticipation of a movement of our army. April 3, immediately after the successful advance of our forces, we abandoned the Army Line and commenced relaying the track taken up on the South Side Railroad to Petersburg, our troops having taken possession of that place on the morning of the 3rd. The road was opened and in running order to Petersburg April 4. A large force was set to work changing the gauge of sidetracks and a half inches, to suit our rolling-stock. We also commenced changing the gauge on main line of South Side Railroad and completed it to Burkeville, sixty-two miles from City Point, April 11, and trains commenced running through with supplies to that point. The road was found to be in wretched condition. The ties were decayed and worthless, and most of the iron nearly worn out. For two or three days it was with the greatest difficulty that trains could be got over the road; but very soon the condition of it was improved by placing a large construction force at work renewing ties, relaying and repairing the track. Trains commenced to run regularly and on time without any accident a serious nature,and easily filling all requisitions for transportation. We also opened the Petersburg and Richmond Railroad, and regular trains commenced running from City Point to Manchester (opposite Richmond), via Petersburg, April 7. On the 24th of April orders were received through General Ingalls to make the necessary repairs on the Richmond and Danville Railroad and open communication with Danville, and also to advance on the South Side Railroad and rebuild the High Bridge near Farmville, seventy-six miles from City Point. I sent a large force with material to this bridge, but before the work was fairly under way the order was countermanded. April 30 an order was received from you to suspend all work on repairs ore rebuilding railroads in Virginia, and only finish such improvements as had been commenced and were nearly completed. In compliance, immediate steps were taken to reduce the expenses in the different departments. As soon as the men could be spared the greater part of the Construction Corps and transportation departments were sent to Alexandria and discharged.
By the 1st of June all the force that possibly could be spared had been discharged, and only a sufficient number retained to insure the successful operation of the roads. Twenty-four new locomotive engines and about 275 new box-cars (all 5-feet gauge) arrived at City Point, loaded on a fleet of about ninety vessels. By your directions this stock was sent to Manchester (opposite Richmond) and there unloaded. A wharf had to be built, long sidings laid, and connections made with the Richmond and Danville road for the purpose of storage.