No. 99.-report of Charles S. Williams, Assistant Superintndent of th Memphis and Charleston Railroad, of the destruction of bridges, cars, &c.
Camp at Sawyer's Cut, Tenn., June 19, 1862,Dear. Sir: The following report of the destruction of cars and engines on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, east of Cypress Bridge, on the morning of May 30, is respectfully submitted: On May 28 and 29 requisition was made on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad by Maj. R. B. Hurt, military superintendent, for as many cars and engines as could be furnished; these were to be sent to Corinth for immediate service. In pursuance of this order, trains were sent forward as rapidly as possible to Corinth, until the evening of the 29th, when, finding that the accumulation of engines and cars was so great as to prevent their being usefully employed, I ordered no more trains to be sent to Corinth. The accumulation of sick at Corinth was so great that the mail train and a full train of box cars, designed for the transportation of the sick, were both detained, and did not leave until nearly night on the 29th. During the day (29th) cars were ordered to different points near Corinth to be loaded — some to the breastworks east of the town, others around the Y to the Mobile and Ohio road, and others to each of our own platforms. Major O'Bannon, who was actively employed in superintending the loading of the cars on that day, repeatedly told me not to allow a single empty car to leave Corinth. Two trains that arrived on the day schedule on the 29th were ordered to the Mobile road, but owing to the track being occupied, they were not able to go around till nearly 8 o'clock at night, after which, having the main track clear for the first time, we commenced making up our trains. The manner in which the cars had been loaded, some being for the Mobile road and others for own road, rendered much switching necessary, and we were frequently blocked up at the Mobile crossing by trains standing across. It was therefore 12 o'clock at night before two trains were ready to leave. About this time I was ordered to send immediately for the siege guns and carriages, which were at the defenses east of the town. I did so, but the conductor returned with the intelligence that they were not yet loaded. A little past 2 o'clock on the morning of the 30th they were brought in. I received conflicting orders as to the destination of  these guns, but about 3.30 o'clock was ordered by Major Smith, in command of the artillery, to place them on the Mobile road, which was done. In the mean time the trains had been made up, and as all orders had now been executed and the track was clear, the trains commenced leaving. Two trains had left at 12 o'clock, and there remained five engines with trains attached and two engines without trains, which were kept there for emergency, to be used on either road. The last train left about 4.30 a. m., and carried all the cars remaining at Corinth up to that time. The depot had been emptied of all valuable freight, the offices cleared of all books, papers, and office furniture, and no car of any description remained upon any of the tracks. I came out on that train. We reached Chewalla about 5 a. m., where we found the six preceding trains, and where we heard for the first time, and to our utter astonishment, that the three bridges between Chewalla and Pocahontas had been ordered to be burned at daylight. The Maury, being the foremost engine, had, previous to my arrival, gone forward across Cypress Creek to Tuscumbia Creek, to give notice of the fact that the trains were behind, and prevent the burning if possible. Upon arriving at Tuscumbia Bridge the engineer found it in flames, and was compelled to return across Cypress Creek to Chewalla to his train. Upon receiving this intelligence my first impulse was to endeavor to return to Corinth, and endeavor to take all the trains down the Mobile and Ohio Railroad; but a little reflection convinced me that, as all the trains going south on that road had undoubtedly passed some of their bridges, it was almost certain that they would be destroyed, and that the position of our trains would be far worse under these circumstances upon the Mobile road than upon our own. I determined, therefore, to push forward to Tuscumbia Creek (supposing the bridge across this to be the only one burned) and endeavor to cross this by a temporary trestle. To this end all the trains were again set in motion, and proceeded as far as Cypress Creek, where we found that the bridge had been fired immediately after the recrossing of the engine spoken of above, and had fallen. It was now nearly 6 o'clock; we could go no farther, and the heavy firing, which now began to be heard in the direction of Corinth and above and below that point, admonished us that no time was to be lost. I accordingly ordered each engineer to run his engine off the track, burn her or otherwise dismantle her, so as to render her completely useless. The locomotive Maury was thrown from the track down a bank and lay upon her side; her links and other parts of her machinery were taken off and buried or thrown into the creek. Locomotives J. R. Mason and Columbia were burned. These belonged to the Nashville and Decatur Railroad. I afterward learned that the flues of the Mason were made of iron. If this is true, burning would not effectually disable her. I did not, however, know this at the time. The Madison was stripped of most of the essential parts of her machinery, such as links, rods, &c., which were buried in varioiusplaces through the swamp. The remaining three engines, the Jones, Powhatan, and Memphis, were stripped as far as possible. In some cases the cylinder heads were broken, the eccentrics broken and rods removed, and in others the links and valve stems and pumps were broken and dismantled, and the parts buried and scattered through the swamp. While the enginemen were engaged with their engines the conductors were busy in burning the trains. I passed the entire length of all the trains twice while they were burning, and think that this work was thoroughly  accomplished. Sixty-two cars were fired and one (a passenger car) ran off crosswise of the track. It would be difficult, indeed impossible, to give anything like — an accu rate inventory of the contents of these trains. They were hastily loaded, mostly with Government freight, and no notice given at the office either of the contents of the cars or their destination. I noticed two car loads of hospital stores, a large quantity of sugar and molasses, a small quantity of bacon, salt, and coffee; some flour, rice, and a brass cannon, mounted, with caisson. The cannon was dismounted and buried and the carriage and caisson burned. The company lost some 3 hogsheads of sugar and 7 barrels of molasses, with a quantity of other miscellaneous freight taken from the depot at Corinth. I can make no approximate estimate of the quantity or value of the freight thus burned. I had not seen it until we arrived at Cypress, and had no time to take note of it. I may add that one of the great difficulties in getting the train away from Corinth was the fact that empty trains were arriving constantly on the main track behind trains that were loaded or loading, and the side tracks, as well as the main track, so crowded that it was impossible to make up trains without stopping the process of loading, which was, under the circumstances, the most important of all other matters; hence the last train that came in must be loaded and be the first to go out. This will account, I hope satisfactorily, for so many trains being together and the trains not leaving as they were loaded. I heard nothing from any officer about destroying the bridges or trains until after I heard of the destruction of the bridges. I then determined to destroy the cars and engines, and did so. After the destruction was nearly completed I received an order from Colonel Claiborne to destroy them. I left the train between 2 and 3 o'clock on the evening of the 30th. Up to that time I saw no officer, nor did I hear of any, sent to destroy the trains. Certainly no person came to destroy the trains up to the time I left, and all that was done was done by my order, and the engines and cars were as effectually destroyed as could be done with the means at our command. Nor can I believe that any of the engines could be put in condition to run without going into a machine-shop and under going considerable repairs and refitting. Respectfully submitted.