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Doc. 140 1/2.-the culinary wants of the army. Report of Mr. Sanderson.

To the Sanitary Commission of the United States:
Gentlemen: In obedience to your orders, I proceeded, on the 13th inst., to the camp of the Fifteenth regiment New York Volunteers, Col. McLeod Murphy, by whom I was courteously received, and the culinary arrangements of the command at once placed under my direction. The various companies were found to be in a state of organization quite favorable for our instruction; and as a general thing the cooks quite prepared to receive it. On each day, the Colonel or one of the staff officers accompanied us on our inspection; in five days such improvement was effected in the mode of preparing their food, that not only was the evidence furnished by the openly expressed satisfaction of the soldier, but in the great and marked diminution of sickness and disease.

On the 19th inst., his Excellency Governor Morgan and the Surgeon-General, Dr. Vanderpoel, were regaled by a collation composed exclusively of soldiers' rations, cooked in camp kettles over camp fires, and were fully satisfied, both as to the feasibility of my plan and its practical results — an opinion fully endorsed by the principal officers of the regiment, as evinced by the letter addressed by them to your Resident Secretary.

The following week, the cook who had previously accompanied me, and to whom I was much indebted for many valuable suggestions and assistance, was obliged to return to New York, but another being at hand, I commenced instructing the company cooks of the 33d regiment New York Volunteers, and after five days constant attendance, succeeded in producing most satisfactory results.

In both of these regiments I received the hearty cooperation of the chief officers, including the Surgeons, and had the same regard been shown by the captains and subordinate officers, greater results might have been achieved. In the 15th, some of the line officers did frequently exhibit some concern for the health and comfort of their respective commands, but in the 33d, with perhaps a single exception, but little thought of those matters appeared to trouble them.

In but one company of either regiment did I find the material for a company fund, all the rest, if not entirely short, being very much straitened. In the case referred to, the man in charge had been a professed cook at home, and was consequently more proficient than his fellows.

Having thus fulfilled my engagements to the State, and proven the perfect feasibility of my proposed reform, I must now rest on my laurels, and await further action on the part of those in authority. But before any beneficial effect can be lastingly produced, some glaring difficulties must be eradicated and removed.

First of all, strict military discipline, both in the officer and the private, must be immediately introduced.

Next, the gross ignorance on the part of the officers commanding companies, as to the minor details of their duty — in reference to the reception of rations, detailing company cooks, and men to carry water for them, order and regularity in the distribution of food, the proper policing of the kitchen and its vicinity, and their personal attention in the inspection of the food, redressing wrongs, and the establishment of order — must be reformed.

Then, the ignorance and inefficiency of the quartermasters, in many cases unavoidable, in others clearly criminal, should be mitigated and checked. Suddenly placed in positions of great trust and responsibility, and laboring under the idea that their first duty is to themselves, they find themselves embarrassed by the multiplicity and variety of their employments, and while striving to increase their own profits, commensurately decrease the comfort of the soldier. A few examples of stringent punishment would effectually check the operations of these gentry.

And lastly, the inexperience, improvidence, and ignorance of the private should be ameliorated and removed. All, with but few exceptions, totally unused to the preparation of food, find themselves unexpectedly charged with catering for a company seldom less than seventy persons. Unacquainted with the simplest principles of the art of cookery, and provided with the most primitive utensils and primeval means for employing them, they must necessarily find themselves much puzzled in producing wholesome or even palatable food from the material furnished them by regulation. With the most skilful cooks, to render these greasy compounds healthful and nutritious is difficult; and even in the regular army, grease and fat are predominant characteristics, in spite of their constant experience and practice.

In amount the rations are of the most liberal [444] character, and susceptible of much variation in the hands of a skilful cook and an experienced quartermaster: but with the present organization of the volunteers, and the improvidence of those engaged as company cooks, it will be found an affair of great labor to instil into them either economy or a knowledge of their business, and the benefits to be attained from a company fund, or wholesome cooking, will hardly be available until the close of the war, if then.

In the last report I had the honor to make to this commission, I suggested some changes and made some recommendation based on the impression that a thorough and positive reform was desired. Satisfied that such is not the case on the part of any of the constituted authorities, and quite convinced that nothing but the most insignificant changes will be countenanced by the powers that be, I would now modify my former views by gently intimating that the engagement of one good cook for each regiment might possibly be productive of some benefit. With many thanks for your powerful assistance and kindly cooperation, and trusting that the great reforms you meditate may ultimately receive that appreciation they merit,

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Washington, D. C., July 29, 1861.

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