The close of hostilities made even greater exertions on the part of this department necessary. Two hundred and thirty-three thousand men were distributed from Washington alone to their homes in the North-carried to every hamlet and village, camps of discharge being established in every State, at which the regiment rendezvoused until paid off, who the men dispersed.
Sixty thousand men of the army of General Sherman were moved from Washington to Louisville, from which place, after a short time, they were put in motion for their homes and discharged. Twenty- five thousand men were moved from the James River to the Rio Grande. Seven thousand were sent from the Potomac to Savannah. Sixty thousands prisoners of war, released, were to their homes in the Southern States.
Regiments were brought from the Gulf and South Atlantic coasts and sent to their States to be discharged. Their places were in some cases supplied by the transfer to the South of the regiments which had longer to serve. A large force of cavalry was moved from the potomac to the Arkansas and to the Western plains.
The actively of the transportation branch of this department has never been greater then since the cessation of hostilities, its duty embracing the transportation to their homes of the greater part of an army of a million men, the collection and transportation to depots, for storage or for sale, of the animals and stores surplus from the rapid reduction in the forces employed.
Officers were sent to inspect the various depots and posts to report what stores should be sold and what preserved. Stringent orders were issued directing reductions in purchases, in lists of persons employed, ordering the sale of surplus material, the reduction of the strength of the trains, the sale of all surplus material of the cavalry, artillery, and trains, and the discharge or sale of transports not needed for the returning troops. Reports in detail herewith contain such information as to these operations as can be collected at this time and embraced within the limits of this report.
The examination, collation, and analysis of the records of this department are not complete. The material is abundant, and I propose, which your approbation, to established a board of officers whose business it shall be to collect from the official reports full statistics of the vast operations which, during the last four years, have texas the fullest energies of every officer of ability and experience in this department.
The works has been accomplished, the record is in possession of the office, but the labors of exr that examination and comparison of the records which is necessary for a full statistical report of operations of this department during the four years of war.
In the last annual report I had the honor to make nominal report of the officers who held the most important and responsible position in this department during the previous year, and to call attention to their merits and their worth. Many of these officers have received the promotion which they have so well deserved, and which they so highly prize as the recognition by their Government of faithful service. I am grateful for the recognition of the service and success of the department under my control thus given to its officers.
The general distribution of duties has not materially varied during the year. The officers had, in the course of three years of active service, generally found the positions in which their respective qualities made them of the greatest service to their country.