Nothing contributed more to the success of our cause than this, enabling us, with the assistance of the Navy, to concentrate rapidly and secretly large bodies of troops upon the weak points of the enemy, and in this way New Orleans, Hilton Head, Fort Fisher, City Point, Mobile, and the great Mississippi Valley were cleared of the rebels. That they fully appreciated this is evident from their desperate and frantic efforts to destroy our shipping by the torch of the incendiary, torpedoes, or the more open attack by armored vessels.
In the first rush of troops to the war, by the inexperience of quartermasters, or the unfaithfulness of Government agents, and not over patriotic shipowners,many unsuitable vessels were employed for the service and paid at high prices. This was remedied as soon as possible by the Quartermaster-General, and a scale of prices fixed per ton for the guidance of quartermasters, and stringent orders issued that no vessel should be sent with troops to sea unless she had been properly constructed for such purpose.
All charters were made allowing the department to take possession of the vessels by paying 33 per cent. profit on the valuation, and the running expenses and repairs, and be credited with the amount paid for charter. By this means a large number of vessels became the property of the Government, and the higher the rate of charter the sooner the vessels would pay for herself. The valuation was fixed by one or more officers of the Navy duly detailed for that duty.
It is important that quartermasters should inform themselves of the kind of steamers suitable to carry troops by sea.
If a side-wheel steamer, in order that the paddle wheels may be secure from the action of the waves, the projection in the side, called the sponsing, should be carried up so as to make that portion as solid as any other part of the ship. This is to be done by carrying timbers, curved according to the form necessary for admitting the water to the paddles, from the floor of the ship to the very outermost projection as well as within the paddles, deviating very little from what would be the regular form of a sailing vessel.
According to the best authorities, the following parts of a vessel of this kind should be increased in actual strength by one-fourth, viz: The keel, stern, apron or inner stern, futtocks, floor timbers, deadwood, stern post, transom, inner post, frame timbers, and filling timbers abreast of the engine, as should also the wales, the rudder, and the rudder fastenings. The steamer should be provided with sufficient masts and sails, in case of accident to her motive power, which should not be less than a fore-and-aft sail to each mast, set upon a gaff, these being intended for the usual wants of the vessel; while there should also be a try sail to each mast, to be set in storms.
The weight of machinery should be well below the water-line; and quartermasters should not be deceived into employing as ocean steamers river or lake vessels boxed up to resemble a sea vessel, but having broad guards only a few feet from the water, and which the first storm at sea is liable to send to the bottom.
Steamers for the transportation of troops by sea should be high between decks, and well ventilated by hatches, wind-sails, and side-lights. Water-closet arrangements and temporary bath fixtures can easily be made, which contributed greatly to the health and comfort of troops on shipboard. Dampness can be obviated by the use of drying stoves.
I would respectfully recommend that the arms, baggage, and knapsacks of the troops be taken, as they embark, and stowed in a con-