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[186] commenced without wagons, except such as could be picked up through the country.

Instructions have been given to the generals operating in hostile territory to subsist their armies, so far as possible, upon the country, receipting and accounting for every thing taken, so that all persons of proved loyalty may hereafter be remunerated for their losses. By this means our troops can move more rapidly and easily, and the enemy is deprived of supplies if he should reoccupy the country passed over by us. Some of our officers hesitate to fully carry out those measures, from praiseworthy but mistaken notions of humanity, for what is spared by us is almost invariably taken by rebel forces, who manifest very little regard for the suffering of their own people. In numerous cases, women and children have been fed by us to save them from actual starvation, while fathers, husbands, and brothers are fighting in the ranks of the rebel armies, or robbing and murdering in ranks of guerrilla bands.

Having once adopted a system of carrying nearly all our supplies with the army in the field, a system suited to countries where the mass of the population take no active part in the war, it is found very difficult to effect radical changes. Nevertheless, our trains have been very considerably reduced within the past year. A still greater reduction, however, will be required to enable our troops to move as lightly and as rapidly as those of the enemy. In this connection, I would respectfully call attention to the present system of army sutlers. There is no article legitimately supplied by sutlers to officers and soldiers which could not be furnished at much less price by quartermaster and commissary departments.

Sutlers and their employes are now only partially subject to military authority and discipline, and it is not difficult for those who are so disposed to act the part of spies, informers, smugglers, and contraband traders. The entire abolition of the system would rid the army of the incumbrance of sutler wagons on the march, and the nuisance of sutler stalls and booths in camp. It would relieve officers and soldiers of much of their present expenses, and would improve the discipline and efficiency of the troops in many ways, and particularly by removing from the camps the prolific evil of drunkenness.

I referred in my last report to the large number of officers and soldiers absent from their commands. It was estimated, from official returns in January last, that there were then absent from duty eight thousand nine hundred and sixty-seven officers, and two hundred and eighty-two thousand and seventy-three non-commissioned officers and privates. Only a part of these were really disabled or sick. The remainder were mostly deserters, stragglers, maligners, and shirks, or men who absented themselves in order to avoid duty. Much of this evil has been abated; very few furloughs are now given, and officers absent from duty not only lose their pay, but are subject to summary dismissal. Straggling and desertion have also greatly diminished, and might be almost entirely prevented if the punishment could be prompt and certain.

In this respect our military penal code requires revision. The machinery of court-martial is too cumbrous for trial of military offences in time of actual war. To organize such courts it is often necessary to detach a large number of officers from active duty in the field, and then a single case sometimes occupies a court for many months. To enforce discipline in the field, it is necessary that trial and punishment should promptly follow the offence.

In regard to our military organization, I respectfully recommend an increase of the Inspector-General's department, and that it be merged in the Adjutant-General's department.

The grades of commander of armies and of army corps should be made to correspond with their actual commands. The creation of such grades need not cause any additional expense to the Government, as the pay and emoluments of general and lieutenant-general could be made the same as now allowed to major-generals commanding divisions.

I also respectfully call attention to our artillery organization. In the Fifth regiment of United States artillery, each battery is allowed one captain and four lieutenants, eight sergeants and twelve corporals, and all of these, together with the privates, receive cavalry pay and allowance. In the First, Second, Third, and Fourth regiments of the United States artillery, a battery is allowed one captain, three lieutenants, four sergeants, and four corporals, and, with the exception of two batteries to each regiment, for which special allowance was made by laws created March second, 1821, and March third, 1841, all of these receive the pay and allowances of infantry, yet they are all, with the exception of four or five companies, performing precisely similar duties.

A field battery of six guns absolutely requires all the officers and non-commissioned officers allowed in the Fifth artillery, and the additional responsibility of the officers, and the labor of both officers and enlisted men, render necessary the additional pay and allowances accorded by law to those grades in that regiment. A simple remedy for these evils is the enactment of a law giving to the First, Second, Third, and Fourth regiments of United States artillery the same organization and the same rates of pay as the Fifth regiment, which, it may be added, is also the same as that already given to all the volunteer field batteries now in the United States service. A similar discrepancy existed in the cavalry regiments till an act, passed by the last Congress, placed them all upon the same basis of organization and pay.

The act authorizing the President to call out additional volunteers, or the drafted militia, limits the call to the cavalry, artillery, and infantry arms, and makes no provision for organizing volunteer engineer regiments. This was unquestionably a mere verbal omission in the law, and should be supplied, as it creates embarrassments

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