War of the Rebellion: Serial 126 Page 0536 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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Wentz took charge of my department in the West as acting chief engineer until February 10, when he has relieved by your order, and Mr. L. H. Eicholtz, division engineer, appointed acting chief engineer, who continued to act in that capacity until my return. As stated in my last report, all the railroads damaged by General Hood in his invasion of Tennessee had been repaired and were in running order on the 28th of December, except the Nashville and Decatur line. And although the work was pushed forward with the greatest energy on both ends of this line, the large amount of bridging to rebuild delayed its completion until the 12th of February. The following statement shows the amount of damage done to the tracks and bridges on the railroads in Tennessee and Alabama during this invasion. Many buildings were burned and other damage done of which I have not a complete record:

Name of road. Track destroyed. Bridges destroyed.

Miles. Feet.

Nashville and 7 3/4 809


Nashville and 6 7.055


Stevenson and 1/2 500


Nashville and 1 2.300


Total. 15 1/4 a10.663

About this time a force was sent to Knoxville to repair the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad, but had scarcely commenced work at Strawberry Plains when, by General Thomas" order, they were withdrawn. A Howe truss wagon-road bridge 350 feet long was built by a portion of the Construction Corps at the turnpike crossing over Duck River at Columbia. On the 25th of February this country was visited by a great freshet, which destroyed or injured to a greater or less extent all the bridges on the Nashville, Decatur and Stevenson line, all on the Nashville and Northwestern, five on the Chattanooga and Atlanta, and two on the Nashville and Clarksville lines. This damage was repaired with the usual rapidity, but was scarcely completed when another freshet on the 3rd of March occurred, destroying nearly all this work and doing some additional damage. Again the construction force was distributed on the various lines, and the most important one, the Nashville and Chattanooga line, was put in running order in one week's line. The repairs to all these lines were completed on the 28th of March. In consequent of the destruction of the Red River bridge by this freshet, the Nashville and Clarksville line was abandoned beyond Springfield. On the 12th of March General Thomas ordered the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad opened from Strawberry Plains to Bull's Gap and "put in condition to sustain as heavy a traffic as was done on the Chattanooga and Atlanta line during the summer of 1864." A large force was at once sent to this work, and commenced operations at Strawberry Plains on the 14th of the month, and reached New Market on the 18th, and Bull's Gap on the 25th. Orders were then received to continue the work and open the road to Carter's Station, twenty miles from Bristol. This point was reached on the 29th of April. Owing rails were burned and bent in the track, the repairing was necessary slow and difficult. And here I will take occasion to remark, as