On the 28th of December, 1864, while engaged in repairing [the Nashville] and Decatur Railroad, after the defeat of Hood's army at Nashville, I received your order to take one division of the Construction Corps and proceed to Savannah, Ga., to join General Sherman. The division selected for this purpose, together with a force of transportation men, left Nashville for Baltimore on the 4th of January, 1865, fully equipped for any kind of railroad work. They arrived in Baltimore on the 10th, but were detained there eight days, until a vessel could be furnished to take them to their destination. On the 28th they arrived at Hilton Head, but were not disembarked there because General Sherman's plans did not require the reconstruction of any of the railroads leading out of Savannah. On the 29th General Sherman gave me orders to proceed with my men to Morehead City, N. C., and "prepare to make railroad connection to Goldsborough by the middle of March." We left Hilton Head on the 3rd and arrived off Morehead City on the 5th of February. The men and supplies were landed next day.
The Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad extends from Morehead City to Goldsborough and is ninety-five miles long. We found this road in running order to Batchelder's Creek, forty-four miles from Morehead City, and being operated by the Quartermaster's Department. As soon as the transfer could be made I took charge of it, and proceeded to put the main track in good repair, extend the sidings, build new water stations, and otherwise prepare for the heavy business which was expected to be done on the road. I appointed J. B. Van Dyne superintendent of transportation and William Cessford master mechanic; E. C. Smeed, division engineer, in charge of the Construction Corps. A small force of the Construction Corps from Virginia, under Mr. McAlpine, were at work on the road when we arrived. They had been sent there by order of General Grant, but considering himself relieved by our arrival, Mr. McAlpine at once returned with his men to Virginia. While here they repaired a few hundred yards of track and almost completed the bridge over Batchelder's Creek. With the exception of some little railroad iron and a few cross-ties, which Mr. McAlpine had brought with him, we found the road almost destitute of materials and tools necessary for the construction and repairs and for operating it. Accordingly requisitions for the necessary amount of these supplies, together with the probable additional amount of rolling-stock that would be required, were at once sent to your office at Washington. Although the railroad department was ready in one week from the time we landed to extend the road from Batchelder's Creek, that advance toward Goldsborough was not commenced until the 3rd of March, after General Cox arrived and took command of the column to move from New Berne. The time was profitably employed, however, in the interim by the Construction Corps in getting out cross-ties and bridge timber and cutting wood. From a short distance beyond Batchelder's Creek to Kinston the track had been taken up and most of the rails removed and all the bridges and water stations destroyed. The construction of the railroad kept pace with the advance of the troops, and the supplies were moved by rail from camp to camp each day and unloaded from the main track. This mode of advance and movement of supplies was continued until we reached a point on the railroad opposite and near the battle-field of Wise's Cross- Roads. Here we made a temporary depot which was used until we reached Neuse