required and enormous outlay for labor and a vast consumption of material, together with all the forethought, energy, patience, and watchfulness of which men are capable.
This line, from the fact of its great length, was imperfectly guarded, as troops the railroads service one of great risk and hazard, and at times it was only by the force of military authority that men could be held to service. As an item showing the real danger attending military railroad operations, it may be stated that during the last six months of the fiscal year ending June 30, 1865, the wrecking train picked up and carried to Nashville 16 locomotives and 294 car-loads of car wheels, bridge iron, &c. These wrecks were caused by guerrillas and rebel raids.
The Chattanooga and Atlanta (or Western and Atlantic) Railroad extends from Chattanooga to Atlanta, 138 miles, with a branch from Kingston to Rome seventeen miles long.
The reconstructions and maintenance of this line was in many respects the most difficult of any military railroad operations during the war. By it the Confederate army under General Johnson made its retreat from Buzzard Roost to Atlanta; and in falling back from one strong position to another it did such damage to the road as was supposed would delay or prevent Sherman's pursuit, but in this it was unsuccessful. However great the damage done, it was so speedily repaired that General Sherman soon ceased to fear any delay from this cause, and made his advance movements with perfect confidence that the railroad in his rear would be "all right."
Being from the nature of the case entirely ignorant of the obstacles to be encountered at each advance, the construction force was at all times prepared for any emergency-either to build bridges of formidable dimensions, or lay miles of track, or perhaps push back to some point on the line and repair damages done by guerrillas or raiding parties. These attacks on the line to the rear were of such frequent occurrence, and often of so serious a character, that to insure speedy repairs it became necessary to station detachments of the Construction Corps at various points along the road, and also to collect supplies of construction materials, such as iron, rails, chairs, spikes, cross-ties, and bridge timber, at points where they would be comparatively safe and easily obtained when required. These precautionary measures proved to be of the utmost importance in keeping the road open.
The detachment stationed along the line were composed of bridge builders and track-layers, with an ample supply of tools for all kinds of work. Each detachment was under the command of a competent engineer or supervisor, who had orders to move in either direction within certain limits as soon as a break occurred, and make the necessary repairs without delay, working day and night when necessary. Under this arrangement small breaks were repaired at once at any point on the line, even when the telegraph wires cut and special orders could not be communicated to the working parties. When big breaks occurred one or more divisions of the Construction Corps were moved as rapidly as possible thereto, either from Chattanooga or the front. Construction trains loaded with the requisite tools and materials were kept ready at each end of the road to move at a moments's notice.
Guerrillas and raiding parties were more or less successful in destroying portions of the track during the whole time we held this