Early in October, 1864, General Hood passed around General Sherman's army and fell upon the railroad at several points in its rear. He destroyed 35 1/2 miles of track and 455 linear feet of bridges; but in thirteen days after he left the line it was repaired and trains were run over its entire length. Twenty-five miles of the track and 230 feet of bridges in one stretch between Tunnel Hill and Resaca were reconstructed in seven and a half days. This was accomplished by working from each end of the break, and at the same time working both ways from dalton, which was reached by trains with material by way of Cleveland after relaying one mile and a half of track.
When General Sherman commenced his march to Savannah in November the road between Atlanta and Dalton, 100 miles, was abandoned. The track from Atlanta to Etowah Rover, forty-six miles, was torn up and destroyed, and from Resaca to Dalton, sixteen miles, the rails were taken up and carried to Chattanooga.
By order of Major-General Thomas the road from Dalton to Atlanta was reconstructed, and between May 10 and July 4, 1865, 66 miles of track were laid, 36 miles repaired, and 3,553 linear feet of bridges rebuilt.
On the 25th day of September, 1865, it was turned over to the State of Georgia, to which it originally belonged.
The East Tennessee and Georgia railroad, from Chattanooga to Knoxville, 112 miles, was opened through in May, 1864, upon completion of Tennessee River bridge at Loudon. It had been used for three months previous by transshipping stores and passengers across the river in flat-boats. It was operated with great regularity during the entire military occupation of that region, except in August and September, 1864, when General Wheeler tore up twenty-five miles of track. It was speedily repaired and not molested afterward.
The Dalton branch, from Cleveland to Dalton, twenty-seven miles, was operated in connection with the main line, and was of great service on several occasions.
On the 28th day of August, 1865, the road and branch was restored to the company.
The East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad, from Knoxville to Bristol, was used and abandoned for short distances near Knoxville during 1864. The farthest point reached during the year was Bull's Gap, fifty-six miles from Knoxville.
By order of Major-General Thomas repairs were commenced near Knoxville March 4, 1865, and the road opened to Carter's Station, 110 miles, April 23. Between those dates 12 miles of track were built, 94 miles repaired, and 4,400 linear feet of bridges constructed. It was turned over to the company August 28, 1865.
Nashville, Decatur and Stevenson line, 200 miles.- This is formed of the Nashville and Decatur Railroad, 120 miles from Nashville south, to Decatur, on Tennessee River, together with the eastern portion of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, from Decatur to Stevenson, eighty miles. Stevenson is at the junction of the latter railroad and the Nashville and Chattanooga, being 113 miles distant from Nashville. Although the distance via Decatur is eighty-seven miles greater than by the direct road, such was the pressure for transportation it was necessary to send return trains by that route from the front until the capacity of the Nashville and Chattanooga line wa sufficiently increased to accommodate the business. In June, 1864, all through trains were transferred to the main line.