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No. 39.-findings of a court of inquiry upon the conduct of the quartermaster's Department of the Confederate Army of the Mississippi.

General orders, no. 81.

Adjt. And Insp. General's office, Richmond, Va., June 11, 1863.
I. A court of inquiry having been convened by direction of the President, on the application of Lieut. Col. Eugene E. McLean, assistant quartermaster-general, under Special Orders, No. 282, paragraph XV, of 1862, to examine into and report upon the conduct of the quartermaster's department of the Army of the Mississippi while under the control of Lieutenant-Colonel (then Major) McLean, and having made the required examination and report, the result is, by direction of the President, published for the information of all concerned.

II. The court having maturely considered the evidence adduced, report as the “summary of facts,” regarded by the court of inquiry in the case of Lieut. Col. E. E. McLean as proved by the evidence elicited and of record-

1. That the Army of the Mississippi, as commanded by General Braxton Bragg, was an organization separate and distinct from the Army of the West, commanded by Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn; both these armies, when concentrated at Corinth and Tupelo, being under General Beauregard as commander of the forces.

2. That the Army of the Mississippi was composed of three army corps, commanded, respectively, by Generals Bragg, Polk, and Hardee, and of a Reserve Corps, commanded by General Breckinridge.

3. That the evacuation of Corinth by the Confederate forces under General Beauregard was first fixed for May 28, 1862.

4. That the evacuation of Corinth was postponed to May 29, 1862.

5. That the evacuation of Corinth was accomplished during the night of May 29 and morning of May 30, 1862.

6. That General Bragg relieved General Beauregard in the command of the forces at Tupelo in the latter part of June, 1862.

7. That Lieutenant-Colonel (then Major) McLean was acting as chief quartermaster of the Army of the Mississippi about March 12, 1862.

8. That Major McLean was appointed chief quartermaster of the Army of the Mississippi by General A. Sidney Johnston on March 30, 1862.

9. That Lieutenant-Colonel McLean was relieved from duty as chief quartermaster of the forces by General Bragg on July 4, 1862, at Tupelo, Miss.

10. That the Army of the Mississippi, while Lieutenant-Colonel McLean was its chief quartermaster, both at Corinth and Tupelo, was amply supplied with money, clothing, camp and garrison equipage, wagons, public animals, field transportation in general, and with all quartermaster's stores, with the exception of full rations of forage at Corinth and of certain other articles, which were applied for and subsequently obtained by the quartermaster's department or the parties requiring them at the time.

11. That there were throughout the army occasional complaints of the want, for a short time, of certain quartermaster's supplies, which the evidence shows were sufficiently accounted for, or promptly supplied, [795] as far as possible, and the circumstances would permit of its being done 12. That the supply of forage at Corinth was sufficient, though not full, and for a time restricted in amount and kind, owing to the nature of the surrounding country and other circumstances. While at Tupelo it was ample, the army then being located in the vicinity of a country abounding in forage.

13. That there was but little forage within reach of Corinth by wagon transportation, and that little was consumed at an early day of our occupation of that post and the adjacent counties.

14. That the facilities afforded by the railroads concentrating at that point, especially after their partial abandonment to the enemy, were not sufficient for the transportation of a full supply of forage for the army at Corinth, and at the same time to supply that army with all other quartermaster's, commissary, and ordnance stores required, and at the same time meet the sudden and unexpected demands for the transportation of large numbers of troops, the sick, &c.

15. That an abundant supply of corn, and as much long forage as could be found, was purchased by the quartermaster's department, and deposited along the lines of the different railroads for shipment to Corinth, and when cars could be obtained they were generally kept loaded with such forage, ready to be attached to the passing trains.

16. That the railroads were worked to their utmost capacity, but that many cases occurred where, from inability to transport them, the cars found ready loaded with forage were left by the passing trains on the side tracks of the railroads, and thus detained or delayed in arriving at their place of destination.

17. That all side tracks required for the efficient working of the different railroads were laid down by the quartermasters department wherever found insufficient for the accommodation of the increased business of the railroads.

18. That a competent military superintendent of the railroads (a major in the quartermaster's department) was selected by the presidents of the railroads, and, with their concurrence, appointed by General Beauregard, to take upon himself the entire and exclusive control of all the army transportation by railroad, under the immediate supervision of General Beauregard then commanding the forces.

19. That the quartermasters department, while under the control of Lieutenant-Colonel McLean, established and had in successful operation throughout the district of country under his charge many and extensive manufactories for the supply of the army with quartermaster's stores.

20. That hospitals were erected and otherwise supplied for the use of the army, including that of the Mississippi, and were in many instances furnished and supplied from the stores of the quartermaster's department while under the control of Lieutenant-Colonel McLean.

21. That artesian wells were, under the direction of Lieutenant-Colonel McLean, successfully bored at Corinth to supply the army at that place with water.

22. That corrals were established by the quartermaster's department of the Army of the Mississippi in the rear of the army for the disabled and worn-down public animals, where they were in large numbers properly attended and successfully recruited for the service.

23. That for ordinary purposes a sufficient and permanent force of negro laborers was employed by the quartermaster's department for loading and unloading the cars at the railroad depots. [796]

24. That in cases of emergency sufficient assistance was obtained by details from the army upon the application of the parties desiring them, as was the case of the post and ordnance department at the evacuation of Corinth.

25. That there was a sufficient number of competent and efficient officers of the quartermaster's department at all times at the railroad depot at Corinth to superintend and control the railroad transportation of the army during the evacuation of that place.

26. That the transportation operations on the occasion of the evacuation of Corinth were expeditiously and successfully conducted by energetic and competent officers of the quartermaster's department, assigned to the special duty of superintending the transportation of army stores and troops from that place by rail.

27. That material aid was rendered by General Bragg and several members of his staff and some members of the staff of General Beauregard; also by other officers, as well as by Colonel Benton's regiment and other details from the army.

28. That there was no public property left in Corinth upon the evacuation of the place, except a few tents and broken wagons, some old harness, and some few shells and other ordnance stores, most of which property appears to have been damaged or condemned or not worth the cost of its transportation under the attending circumstances.

29. That there was a loss of a number of railroad engines and cars loaded with army stores upon the Memphis and Charleston Railroad on the morning of May 30, occasioned by the burning of the railroad bridges across the Hatchie and Tuscumbia Rivers, in obedience to specific orders given the officers in command at those bridges to destroy them at a certain hour.

30. That the quartermaster's department had no notice that the bridges were to be destroyed, otherwise the trains lost might have been dispatched in time to have passed the bridges or turned down the Mobile and Ohio Railroad and thus saved.

31. That there was a loss of a train of cars containing certain Government property at Booneville while standing on the track of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad on the morning of May 30, occasioned by a raid of the enemy's cavalry, over which the quartermaster's department had no control.

32. That Lieutenant-Colonel McLean was at one time during his administration of the quartermaster's department of the Army of the Mississippi and other forces afflicted with a disease which was local and not of a nature permanently to disable him from attending to all the duties required of him as chief of his department.

33. That with the exception of a few days' illness at Corinth about a week previous to the evacuation of that place, Lieutenant-Colonel McLean was not unable at any time while chief quartermaster of the army to attend to all the duties which were required of him, and that he did so attend promptly to all the duties devolving upon him at the time.

34. That Lieutenant-Colonel McLean is shown by the evidence to have been prompt, energetic, efficient, courteous, and considerate in the discharge of his duties as chief quartermaster of the army successively under Generals Johnston, Beauregard, and Bragg, and especially solicitous for the welfare and success of the department intrusted to his charge and for which he was responsible. [797]

Opinion of the court.

It is the opinion of this court that, from the facts elicited in the investigation of the conduct of the quartermaster's department of the Army of the Mississippi while under the control of Lieut. Col. (then Maj.) Eugene E. McLean, it appears that the department was managed with all the energy, efficiency, forethought, and success which could have been expected under the difficult circumstances attending the sudden concentration of our armies; the unexpected occupation by the enemy of our principal fields of supply; the scarcity of the means of field transportation; the inability to obtain forage within reasonable reach of the army by means of wagon transportation; the failure or inability of the railroads of the country to transport from a distance, when purchased, forage to the army; the closing of the great markets of New Orleans, Memphis, and Nashville; the interlrence by agents of other branches of the service with the departments of purchases of forage and of transportation, under Lieutenant-Colonel McLean; the original scarcity throughout the country of all supplies needed; the continuance of such scarcity in consequence of the existing blockade of the ports of the Confederacy, and the inexperience of nearly all quartermasters' agents in the beginning of the war.

It further appears from the evidence that in the arduous duties attending the evacuation of Corinth by the Confederate Army under General Beauregard, the quartermaster's department was fully represented by able and efficient officers, present at the railroad depot day and night, and to their activity and judgment is the successful removal of the public stores, for which the quartermaster's department was responsible at that place, mainly attributable. That the quartermaster's department during the day and night preceding the evacuation was efficiently aided by the personal exertions of General Bragg and several members of his and General Beauregard's staff, and by the exertions of Colonel Benton's regiment, together with other details from the army.

It also appears from the evidence that the evacuation of Corinth, so far as the quartermasters department was concerned, was a complete military success, and that, although so short a time was allowed to remove the stores, but little property was lost, and that but of small value, being mostly worthless or condemned stores. The severe losses of the engines and cars, together with the public property contained in the latter, destroyed on the morning of the evacuation on the Hatchie and Tuscumbia Bridges, on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad by our troops, and on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad at Booneville by a raid of the enemy's cavalry, are shown from the evidence to be in no way attributable to the quartermaster's department.

The court is also of opinion that the investigation has further shown that in the conduct of the department committed to his charge Lieutenant-Colonel McLean was prompt, energetic, and efficient in the discharge of all the duties of his office while chief quartermaster of the army, and that while in the execution of those duties his instructions to and teachings of his subordinates contributed much to the success attendant on their exertions and to the introduction and maintenance of the proper system and order in the various branches of the department intrusted to his supervision and control.

III. The court of inquiry of which Col. M. Lewis Clark was president is hereby dissolved.

By order:

S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector-General.

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