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[124] the Department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, to be employed chiefly as artisans.

As there is still an urgent demand for engineer officers, an application has been made, on my recommendation, to Congress for (22) twenty-two additional officers in the provisional corps. This bill has passed the Senate, and will, it is hoped, at an early day be favorably considered by the House, and become a law. If so, nominations for suitable appointments will be promptly made by the bureau.

The assignments of the few military engineers, who joined the Southern army at the commencement of the war, to duty with troops, has been a serious drawback to the engineer service, which has therefore been performed in a great measure by civil engineers, who have been appointed from time to time in the corps.

2d. Engineer workshops, for the manufacture of tools, implements and preparation of material for pontoon bridges, have been established at Richmond, Charleston, Augusta, Mobile, Demopolis, and in the Trans-Mississippi Department, from which the calls from the different armies and departments have been, as far as practicable, supplied. The great difficulty in this direction has been the want of materials, particularly iron for tools and bridge constructions, a want owing principally to the disturbed condition of the country and defective transportation.

Entrenching tools have been obtained by importation to a considerable extent, and funds have been sent abroad to purchase others, but the closing of most of our regular ports of entry, it is feared, will prevent their being received.

3d. For the prompt repair of railroad bridges. and trestlework, and for duplicating these last, an organized body of mechanics should be available. This has been partly provided for, but it is proposed to increase the force, if practicable, to at least one hundred for the roads leading directly to the army of Northern Virginia. Similar organizations should be made for service further south and west.

A commission for the collection of railroad iron from unimportant lines, and distribution when necessary to those of vital consequence, as well as for the construction of iron plated gun-boats, has been organized by the joint action of the War and Navy Departments. Every possible impediment has been thrown in the way of this commission, and serious delays have been caused under the impressment act, by parties suing out injunctions, and resorting to other similar legal steps. In many cases, the iron rails must be had promptly as a military necessity, or disaster must follow. When this is established, the authority for removing them from less important roads should be given and enforced by the commanders of armies and departments, who are evidently the best prepared to judge and act. Orders from the War Department must be executed under the provisions of the law regulating impressments. Orders


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