relieved, to take charge of the depot at City Point, by Captain Crowell, assistant quartermaster, in making additions and repairs to the various hospitals in and around the city, to render them comfortable for the winter, building quarters for regiments of Veteran Reserve Corps stationed in the city, and guards at the several hospitals, of which reports and drawings, with their cost, were forwarded to you each month. For details you are respectfully referred to the annual report on this subject sent you by Captain John H. Crowell, assistant quartermaster; but the amount of building, repairs, &c., during the first four months of this year, conducted by Captain E. E. Camp, assistant quartermaster, is, of course, not included therein.
Precautions against incendiaries.-Information having been received of an organization to burn the Northern cities, the quartermaster employs, now regularly organized and drilled by company and battalion, were ordered on duty at night and the number of watchmen increased. By my direction an officer of the depot was detailed each night to perform duty as officer of the day, visiting each shop, warehouse, and corral, from Georgetown to the Eastern Branch, including the Sixth Street Wharf and Kendall Green, which occupied their time from from 10 o"clock at night till daylight, to see that the guards and watchmen were eon the alert; which duty they performed during a portion of the month of December, and until these guards were relieved by enlisted men of the Veteran Reserve Corps.
This vigilance prevented any attempt to destroy the large amount of stores necessarily kept on hand.
To give a prompt alarm in case of fire, alarm-boxes were put up at different points to connect with the city telegraph lines put in operation in February; fire-plugs were also erected at several of the repair shops and warehouses.
Troops to City Point.-Early in December the Sixth and General transportation by the formation of ice in the river during the winter, I applied for and received two ice-boats, and ordered all the Government transports to be plated with suitable iron above and below the water-line, to prevent being cut through by the ice.
Troops forwarded.-During the months of December and January the water transportation branch, besides the routine duty of forwarding quartermaster's supplies, beef-cattle, commissary stores, and ordnance to City Point, was fully occupied in sending forward Hayes" division, Crook's command, and the Provisional Brigade, West Virginia troops, from the Shenandoah Valley, and General Schofield's command from Tennessee.
Hay barges frozen in.-My apprehensions in regard to ice proved well founded. Forage barges passing through the canal from Philadelphia to the Chesapeake Bay were frozen in, and the supply of hay on hand was soon exhausted by the increased number of animals belonging to the above-mentioned troops.
In want of hay.-Captain H. B. Lacey, assistant quartermaster, was dispatched the latter part of January with tug-boats to extricate these barges, but without success. I was obliged, in consequence, to send trains of wagons into the country to bring what hay could be purchased from the farmers, by which means a supply sufficient for part of a rations was kept up. These purchases were continued throughout the month of March.