This department is charged with the duty of providing means of transportation by land water for all the troops and for all the material or war. It furnishes the horses of artillery and cavalry, and the horses and mules of the wagon trains; provides and supplies tents, camp and garrison equipage, forage, lumber, and all materials for camps and for shelter of the troops. It builds barracks, hospitals, and store-houses; provides wagons and ambulances, harness, except for cavalry and artillery horses; builds or characters hips and steamers, docks, and wharves; constructs and repairs roads, railroads, and their brigades; clothes the Army, and is charged generally with the payment of all expenses attending military operations not assigned by law or regulation to some other department.
While the Ordnance Department procures and issues arms and ammunition, and the Subsistence Department supplies provisions, and the Medical Department medical and hospital stores, the Quartermaster's Department is called upon to transport the stores of all these department from the depots to the camps, upon the march, and to the battle-field, where they are finally issued to the troops.
These duties have been efficiently performed during the year.
In the last, as in former years of the war, under the energetic and liberal administration of the War Department, the wants of the troops have been regularly supplied, their comfort, health, and efficiency have been amply and regularly provided for. The Army itself does justice to the wise and enlarged administration which has enabled it to move successfully in a field defense, was secured after a campaign involving a line of operations of 300 miles in length, maintained for months through a hostile country so effectually at to enable an army of 90,000 men, with over 40,000 animals, to subsist not only while advancing, but, what is much more difficult, while laving siege for weeks to that advanced position.
The enemy's army, driven from Atlanta, but still formidable in numbers and in courage, threw itself upon this long line if operations-two slender rods of iron, crossing wide rivers, winding through mountain gorges, plunging under the mountain ranges, and everywhere exposed to the raids of an enterprising enemy, favored by the thick forests which bordered the railroad throughout nearly its whole extent.
The guards of the posts upon the line of communication did their duty, and the Railroad Construction Corps of this department,thoroughly organized, strong in numbers, in skill, and in discipline, repaired broken bridges and railroad. New engines from the workshop of the North replaced those which torpedoes or broken rails threw from the track. Trains loaded with timber, with iron, with water and fuel for the engines, preceded the trains of subsistence and ammunition, and scarce was the communication broken before it was re-established.
The conquering army followed the desperate garrison of Atlanta and drove him off the lines of communication. The railroad was worked night and day to its full capacity; supplies for a new campaign for an army of 90,000 men were poured into Atlanta. All surplus stores, all sick and all enfeebled men were sent by railroad to the rear, and the army of General Sherman, with its 3,000 wagons full loaded with every material of war, accompanied by droves of many thousand beef-cattle, re-enforced by the return of these who, disabled in the earlier events of the campaign, has been recruited in the