As the army moved, however, without depending upon railroad communication, destroying instead of repairing railroads in its march, the Construction Corps was transferred to Wilmington and beaufort Harbor, and the railroads which, staring from Wilmington and Morehead City, meet at Goldsborough were repaired and stocked with engines and cars, either captured or sent from the North.
Two hundred miles of railroad were thus repaired and stocked under the protection of the troops of Generals Schofield and Terry; and when, after the battle of Bentonville, the Right Wiong of General Sherman's army, under Howard, marched into Goldsborough, on the 22nd of March, ragged from their struggles with the thickets and swamps, and blackened by the smoke of the burning forests of Carolina, they met these railroad trains from the Atlantic loaded with three days; rations for their immediate wants. I met General Sherman at Morehead City on the 25th of March, when he advised me that he desired to move again on the 10th of April.
This army of nearly 100,000 men needed to be entirely reclad and reshod; the troops were to be fed while resting, for as soon as the army ceased its march it ceased to supply itself by foraging, and depended upon the supplies from the coast. Nevertheless, on the 7th of April I was able to inform General Sherman that the necessary supplies were in his camps.
Every soldier has received a complete outfit of clothing and had been newly shod. The wagons were loaded with rations and forage, and each of the 3,000 wagons, whose canvas covers had been torn on the march from Chattanooga, was supplied with a new cover. The army moved on the appointed day against the enemy, interposing between it and the Army of the Potomac, then holding the principal rebel army fast behind the lines of Richmond.
A tug-boats of this department under the command of Captain Ainsworth, had reached Fayetteville by the Cape Fear River on the 12th of March, and first bore greeting to the Army of the West from their comrades whom they had left on the banks of the Tennessee, and who, joined with others of the Army of the Potomac; were then forcing a communication with from the new base which they sought on the Atlantic Coast.
The demands upon the department at this time compelled it to take into its service not only the fleet which it had gradually acquired by purchase, but nearly every new steam vessels that had been built in the United States to navigate the ocean.
A fleet of powerful propellers, vessels of 900 to 1,100 tons, swift and staunch, burning twelve to sixteen tons of coal per day, with a speed of eight to ten knots, had been created during the war, and nearly the whole of them were at this time in the service of the department.
Large sailing ships were also employed, loaded with forage and subsistence, and compelled to anchor on the exposed coast of carolina, where they rode out the winter stores.
A large quantity of railroad engines and cars were shipped to Beaufort Harbor for the railroads in North Carolina, must of which were on the termination of hostilities sent to the James River to be sold.
To aid in the rapid supply of General Sherman while at Goldsborough and relieve the railroad, and also to enable the department to supply him at Winton by the shallow waters of North Carolina in his northern march, a large number of canal-boats and barges was