3737 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.
and February, the country suffered
from excessive cold, a cold so great that
not only was more fuel required but the
actual mining of coal and the transportation of coal were greatly impeded. At
times some of the northern railroads
were virtually unable to transport freight
owing to damage done to their engines
by the freezing weather. Furthermore,
many of the engines and cars had long
been in need of repair; under the strain
they now broke down. All over the land
it was difficult for people to obtain the
fuel necessary to keep them warm, and
all sorts of makeshifts were resorted to.
In country districts where forests still
remained, more wood was burned than
in any winter for many years.
Toward the middle of January, the
situation became so serious that drastic
measures had to be resorted to. In
many places the people were in actual
danger of freezing, while in New York
harbor two score ships were unable to
sail for France with needed food and
munitions of war because of lack of coal.
Fuel Administrator Garfield, with the
approval of President Wilson, ordered
a general shutdown of industry throughout
the United States east of the Mississippi for
five successive days, and the limitation
of the working week to five days. during
the nine weeks following. This order
caused much criticism and resulted in the
loss of hundreds of millions of dollars to
manufacturers and other business men, but
bore hardest, of course, upon the working
class, several millions of whom were rendered temporarily idle. Some exceptions
were made for industries engaged in war
work. The five days passed, and, for
several Mondays following, the "heatless"
order was carried out, but the order was
suspended before nine weeks had elapsed.
By this shutting down of industry much
fuel was saved, and the coming of milder
weather also helped to relieve the situation.
Dr. Garfield and the administration were
bitterly criticized for the step, but it is
difficult' to see how some such measure
could have been avoided. The real blame
rested upon the shoulders of those who
were responsible for delaying the adjustment of the coal situation in the preceding
summer. In this, as in many other matters,
the Government displayed lack of foresight and became involved in difficulties
because of failure to do needed acts in time.
The work of mobilizing the resources
of the country was one of the most tremendous that had ever faced any nation.
It would have been difficult enough under
the most favorable circumstances. It was
rendered doubly difficult by reason of
the fact that although the country for
two years had been facing war, comparatively little of a practical nature had
been done by way of preparation. In
consequence, nearly everything had to
be improvised at a time when haste was
necessary in order to get American troops
in the field in time to play their part.
Even plans were lacking, and precious
time had to be used in formulating them.
Nor were the men upon whom this task
fell always those best fitted for the work.
Not only were aeroplanes, motor trucks,
artillery, tanks, and other paraphernalia
lacking, but the authorities responsible
had not decided upon the types to manufacture.
Congress appropriated money in sums
undreamed of. The country displayed
a commendable eagerness to help in the
great work, and thousands of business
men gave up their private enterprises
and offered their services free of charge,
but in the War Department, especially,
a state of chaos developed, due in large
measure to failure to take time by the
forelock. Conditions in that department
reached such a state before the end of
1917 that in the middle of December
the Senate Committee on Military Affairs
began an investigation into the alleged
shortcomings of the department. The
investigation revealed many instances of
mismanagement such as failure to provide uniforms, blankets, adequate hospital facilities, and arms. The leadership
in this investigation was taken by Senator
Chamberlain of Oregon, a member of the
President's own party. The investigation
received the support of many of the