Upon the surrender of the rebel armies in Virginia and North Carolina the armies of General Sherman and of Lieutenant-General grant marched for washington, where they were reviewed by the President and Cabinet, after which they went into camp on the heights surrounding the capital, and the preparations for their transfer to other fields of operation and for their disbandment were made.
While the coast was the scene of the efforts of the department to support and supply the army of General Sherman, the armies in front of Richmond also required a vast expenditure. These armies were stronger in numbers then General Sherman's. Their equipment for march as well as for siege was constantly kept in the highest state of efficiency. The country in which they lay furnished no supplies, and food and forage and all stores were brought by rail and by sea from the North and Northwest. The shipments of forage alone to the armies on the James averaged over $1,000,000 per month throughout the winter.
The tables at the end of this report give information as to the strength of the fleet and the magnitude of the operations involved in the supply from distant ports of an army over 100,000 in strength, with at times over 5,000 wagons to keep in repair and over 65,000 animals, horses, and mules to be fed.
From the depots in the West, under the general direction of Bvt. Major General Robert Allen, senior quartermaster in the Mississippi Valley, the wants of the armies on the Tennessee, the Cumberland, the Mississippi, the Missouri, the Arkansas, and the Gulf of mexico were supplied.
The Northwest was the store-house from which were drawn subsistence, forage, and all other material which, by steam-boats and railroad trains, were distributed to the posts.
List of steamers employed on the Atlantic, upon the Gulf, and upon the Western rivers are attached to this report.
The transport fleet exceeded 1,000 vessels of every variety of construction, impelled by sail or steam. Details of this fleet and its cost will be found in another part of this report.
Great movements of troops continued to be made. The army of General Thomas, having dispersed the rebel army in the campaign which culminated in the battle of Nashville, on the 15th and 16th of December, 1864, and the pursuit which followed it, was divided. The Twenty-third Corps, under General Schofield, 15,000 strong, was in January, as hereinafter detailed, transported to the coast of North Carolina to co-operate with General Sherman, expected at Kinston. The Sixteenth Corps, under General A. J. Smith, 17,000 strong, with artillery and baggage trains, was sent to New Orleans to co-operate with the troops then under General Canby in the reduction of Mobile.
The cavalry, under Major-General Wilson, was refitted, remounted, equipped, and launched into the interior of Alabama to capture the principal interior cities of Alabama and Georgia. Selma, Montgomery, Columbus and Macon fell before them.
It all these movements the troops were kept well supplied with the necessary material. Horses, forage, food, and clothing were promptly delivered at the appointed rendezvous and depots, and steamers were ready on river and coast to move the troops and their supplies promptly.
During the whole year-I believe I may say during the whole war-no movement was deployed, no enterprise, failed, for want of means of transportation or the supplies required from the Quartermaster's Department.