Ice blockade.-The cold weather still continuing, I was obliged to order the mail-boats, which had during the year kept up a daily line of communication between this city and City Point, to land at Annapolis, and the mails and passengers were transported to and from that point by rail. This continued, with an intermission of abut four days, from the 26th of January to the 21st of February, inclusive, being twenty-three days of ice blockade, which had not occurred before during the war.
General Schofield's army shipped.-It was during this period that the army of General Schofield arrived. The first shipment of the Second Division, Twenty-third Army Corps, animals and baggage, was made from Alexandria; but the ice having again formed, a brigade of 2,000 men, together with General Meagher's division, numbering 5,000 men, were forwarded by rail to Annapolis, and from thence by sea-going steamers. The rest of this command, after being refitted, embarked at Alexandria for North Carolina.
Coal exhausted.-At the commencement of winter I had laid in a store of 15,000 tons of stove coal for issue to hospitals, officers, &c., considering it sufficient for winter use, but early in the spring, this amount being exhausted, I was obliged to have a further supply sent daily by rail from Baltimore, amounting in the aggregate to about 5,000 tons.
Forage barges released.-The weather having moderated and ice in the river fast disappearing, Captain Lacey was again ordered on the 20th of February to Chesapeake City to release the forage barges frozen in the canal, which arrived here during the month of March.
Vessels for prisoners of war.-During the last week of February large shipments of cattle and stores, including the wagon transportation of General Schofield's army, were being sent to the front, when owners of war from Fort Delaware to City Point. Shipments of stores were also regularly made to supply the wants of the Army of the Shenandoah.
Organized employes on duty.-On the 4th of March, owing to the great influx of persons into the city, some of whom might be contemplating mischief, the quartermaster employes, by request of Major-General Halleck, Chief of Staff, were kept on duty day and night at their several armories, and the quartermaster's steam fire brigade at their engine houses, in readiness for any calls that might be made upon them.
Guards increased.-The guards at the warehouses and shops were doubled and so continued for about a week, and every precaution was taken to insure the preservation and security of the Government property.
Supplies for General Sherman.-General Sherman's army having reached North Carolina, a force of carpenters was sent forward to Morehead City to erect warehouses for the reception of stores to be sent for the supply of the troops in that vicinity. Such light-draft steamers as could be obtained, with a number of barges, were loaded with supplies and forwarded by the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal.
Fires. On the 1st of April the fire at headquarters Department of Washington occurred, which consumed the temporary buildings erected for its use. Here, as well as at the fire of the Smithsonian Institution, the quartermaster's steam fire brigade did good service and prevented these fires being more destructive, especially as no very effective assistance could be rendered by the common hand engines of the city corporation then in use.