During the past winter necessary repairs and some additions were made to the barracks at the forts throughout the chain of fortifications, but the same were as limited as the health and comfort of the troops would allow.
Temporary sheds and stables for protection of animals were erected about the 1st of December on the line of the First Separate Brigade, embracing the fortified points from Fairfax Station to Prospect Hill, while the troops of the command constructed log and stockade quarters, which were covered with lumber.
By the direction of the Secretary of War, through Major-General Augur, the erection of a building for detailed clerks and messengers belonging to Department of Washington on duty in this city was commenced about the 20th of February and completed April 15.
This structure is situated on the corner of Twenty-second and I streets, contains accommodations for 200 men, and it was considered would pay for its cost in about one year by the saving to the Government of the commutation of fuel, quarters, and rations heretofore allowed to that class of men.
On the night of April 1 the frame structure used as public offices pertaining to headquarters Department of Washington, adjoining the brick building corner of Fifteen-and-a-half street and Pennsylvania avenue, was entirely consumed by fire, including part of the furniture.
By direction of the major-general commanding, another building to replace the one destroyed, and intended for the same purpose, was commenced about April 10 and finished May 20 without expense to the Quartermaster's Department, the cost of material and labor in its construction being paid from the fund in the possession of the provost-marshal-general Defenses North of the Potomac.
It having been determined by the proper authorities to retain only a portion of the forts and batteries in this vicinity, the work of removing the guns and other material belonging to the Engineer Department from the works designated to be abandoned was begun about the 29th day of June.
The order from the War Department (paragraph 5, Special Orders, Numbers 315, War Department, Adjutant-General's Office, June 17) directed that-
The ground occupied by the defenses to be abandoned will be restored to the proprietors of loyal character, endeavors being first made to liquidate all claims for occupation and damage of every kind by transferring to them the right and title to the buildings and fixtures of timber on the bombproofs, magazines, and stockades erected thereon. In the event that such an arrangement is not made to liquidate the claims in full, the buildings will be torn down and material transported to and used for construction of permanent defenses elsewhere, or sold, as may be found most advantageous.
A sufficient guard will be meantime kept to protect the property from fire and injury.
The preliminary examination and investigation necessary to understandingly carry out such instructions was delegated to me by the major-general commanding, and the preparation to complete data as to the ownership of the property, loyalty of claimants, and damages sustained by the use of their property in such manner was in course of completion June 30, the barracks and buildings at the abandoned posts being meanwhile placed under protection of proper guard.
During the winter and spring temporary repairs were made to the Aqueduct and Long Bridges, rendered necessary by the frequent passage over the same by Government teams.
The furnishing of transportation by rail and river does not rest in this office, but the necessary orders have been issued upon the depot