It was made the duty of the director and general manager to arrange the military railroad organization upon a basis sufficiently comprehensive to permit the extension of the system indefinitely to perfect the modus operandi for working the various lines; to determine as to the number of men to be employed in the several departments, and the compensation to be paid thereof; the amount and kind of machinery to be purchased, and the direction as to the distribution of the same.
The following important order of the Secretary of War, the wisdom of which has been so abundantly vindicated by experience, is here inserted as defining in part the position of the military railroad organization, which seems not to have been clearly understood by many in and out of the service:
WAR DEPARTMENT, ADJUTANT-GENERAL'S OFFICE, Numbers 337.
Washington, November 10, 1862.
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16. Commanding officers of troops along the U. S. military railroads will give all facilities to the officers of the roads and the quartermasters for unloading cars so as to prevent any delay. On arrival at depots, whether in the day or night, the cars will be instantly unloaded, and working parties will always be in readiness for that duty and sufficient to unload the whole train at once.
Commanding officers will be charged wit guarding the track, sidings, wood, water-tanks, &c., within their several commands, and will be held responsible for the result.
Any military officer who shall neglect his duty in this respect will be reported by the quartermasters and officers of the railroad and his name will be stricken from the rolls of the Army.
Depots will be established at suitable points under the direction of the commanding general and properly guarded.
No officer, whatever may be his rank, will interfere with the running of the cars as directed by the superintendent of the road.
Any one who so interferes will be dismissed from the service for disobedience of orders.
By order of the Secretary of War;
E. D. TOWNSEND,
The above order was given in consequence of several attempts having been made to operate railroads by army or department commanders, which had, without an exception, proved signal failures, disorganizing in tendency and destructive of all discipline. The great benefit resulting from this order was more especially exhibited during General Sherman's campaign from Chattanooga to Atlanta, and in this my final report I desire to put on record, for the benefit of those who may be called upon to conduct military railroad operations in the future, the following:
Having had a somewhat extensive railroad experience both before and since the rebellion, I consider this order of the Secretary of War to have been the very foundation of success. Without it the whole railroad, system, which has proved an important element in conducting military movements, would have been not only a costly but ludicrous. The fact should be understood that the management of railroads is just as much a distinct profession as is that of the art of war, and should be so regarded.
The difficulty of procuring a sufficient force of competent railroad men, both in the construction and transportation departments, was almost insurmountable. Owing to the peculiar nature of the service and the rapid expansion of the railroad system, the supply of railroad operatives in the country has always been limited. Many had entered the Army in various positions, thus diminishing the actual