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[651] contiguity to the landings would permit. The mild climate, rocky soil and rolling surface of the country, rendered this altogether the best locality that could have been found for recuperating and preparing both men and horses for an early spring campaign.

The camps were laid out with regularity, comfortable quarters for the men, and shelters for the horses were constructed without delay; roads were made to the landings, and supplies of forage, rations, clothing, equipments and ammunition were furnished in great abundance. A thorough system of instruction for men and officers was instituted, and every necessary effort was made to bring the corps to the highest possible state of efficiency. I transmit herewith a topographical sketch, showing the situation of the camps, and their arrangement. The plan of that constructed by General Hammond and afterward occupied by a part of General Upton's division, I regard the best arrangement of a cavalry cantonment yet devised.

The influence of the system adopted on the subsequent career of the corps cannot be over-estimated. The final victory over Forrest and the rebel cavalry was won by patient industry and instruction while in the cantonments of Gravelly Springs and Waterloo.The great fault in our cavalry system had previously been over-work in detachments, and the absence of instruction, organization and uniformity of equipment.

On the twenty-third of February, General Thomas arrived at Eastport with instructions directing me to fit out an expedition of five or six thousand cavalry, “for the purpose of making a demonstration upon Tuscaloosa and Selma,” in favor of General Canby's operations against Mobile and Central Alabama. After consultation, in which I expressed a belief in the capacity of my command to capture those places, and conduct from the latter most important operations, General Thomas gave me permission to move with my entire available mounted force, and authorized me to pursue such a course as I might see proper, keeping in view the general objects of the impending campaign. The instructions of Lieutenant-General Grant, transmitted to me by General Thomas, after directing me to be ready to march as soon as General Canby's movement had begun, allowed me the amplest discretion as an independent commander.

It was at first intended that the expedition should begin its movement by the fourth of March, but heavy rain storms setting in, the Tennessee river became very much swollen and the roads impassable.

Lieutenant-General Grant having directed all the surplus horses purchased in the West to be sent to General Canby, there were no means left in the hands of the Cavalry Bureau to mount Hatch's division. I therefore directed him to turn over his few remaining horses to General Upton, and continue the instruction of his command at Eastport. It was expected that the supply departments would soon be able to furnish him horses and Spencer carbines, so as to enable him to take the field and join the corps somewhere in Alabama or Georgia. By a voluntary arrangement between Brevet Brigadier-General D. E. Coon, commanding the Second brigade of Hatch's division, and Brigadier-General Croxton, the former also turned over to the latter all the Spencer carbines then in his brigade. By these means the troops of the First, Second and Fourth divisions, with the exception of a few hundred, were armed with the Spencer carbine, and all had arms using cartridges with metallic cases.

The heavy rains continued, in consequence of which the river overflowed its banks and destroyed a large quantity of grain, accumulated for the horses at Chickasaw landing. The steam-boats could not reach the highlands, except by working their way through the woods and fields, until the river subsided to its natural banks. The crossing was, therefore, delayed till the eighteenth instant.

Division commanders were directed to see that every trooper was provided with five days light rations in haversacks, twenty-four pounds of grain, one hundred rounds of ammunition and one pair of extra shoes for his horse; that the pack animals were loaded with five days of hard bread, ten of sugar, coffee and salt, and the wagons with forty-five days coffee, twenty of sugar, fifteen of salt and eighty rounds of ammunition. These calculations were made upon the basis of a sixty days campaign, and under the supposition that the command would be able to supply itself from the enemy's country with everything else in abundance. Only enough hard bread was taken to last during the march through the sterile region of North Carolina.

A light canvas pontoon train of thirty boats, with the fixtures complete, transported by fifty six-mule wagons, and in charge of a battalion of the Twelfth Missouri cavalry, Major J. M. Hubbard commanding, was also got ready to accompany the expedition.

The entire train in charge of Captain W. E. Brown, Acting Chief Quartermaster, numbered not far from two hundred and fifty wagons, escorted by fifteen hundred dismounted men of the three divisions. These men were organized into battalions and commanded by Major, now Colonel Archer.

At daylight on the twenty-second of March, all the preliminary arrangements having been perfected, and the order of march having been designated, the movement began.

The entire valley of the Tennesse having been devastated by two years of warfare, was quite as destitute of army supplies as the hill country south of it. In all directions, for a hundred and twenty miles, there was almost absolute destitution. It was therefore necessary to scatter the troops over a wide extent of country, and march

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George H. Thomas (3)
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