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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 42, Part 2 (Richmond-Fort Fisher)
Page 1276 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LIV.

to be made. Having waited until this date, 23rd of September, without hearing from them, I have called upon the inspectors for an explanation of their silence. Since the reorganization of the cavalry into a corps, which has recently occurred, Major Venable, assistant adjutant and inspector general, has been assigned as chief inspector of the corps. Major V. was formerly in that position under General Stuart, and rendered efficient service. He is zealous and energetic in the discharge of this duties, and will no doubt give increased efficiency to the inspecting department of the cavalry. Having been unable to make any personal inspections of the cavalry, and receiving no reports for the month of August, I will defer for my next report the views suggested by the present condition and necessities of that arm of the service.

GENERAL REMARKS.

General orders and instructions from the department require me, as army inspector, to call attention to the irregularities and deficiencies existing in the army and the causes of the same. In compliance with these instructions, I cannot close this report without expressing the conviction, that has strengthened with my experience as inspector, that the source of almost every evil existing in the army is due to the difficulty of having orders properly and promptly executed. There is not that spirit of respect for and obedience to general orders which should pervade a military organization of such size and upon whose perfection of discipline such great issues of lite and liberty depend. In my opinion, officers of all grades and departments are more or less to blame, but the brigade commander, more than any one else, is a t fault and possesses in a greater degree the power to control and correct the evils resulting from this tendency to neglect of duty. Upon him rests the greatest responsibility, for the brigade is really the unit organization of the army, and reflects the character and qualifications of its commander. Indeed, the brigadier makes the brigade. If he does his duty, the evidences are at once apparent in the superior discipline and efficiency of his command. If he holds his colonels to a strict accountability, the colonels will look to their captains, the captains to their lieutenants, the commissioned to the non-commissioned officers and thus then is that distinct division of responsibility defined and contemplated by the regulations. The proof of this view is in the fact that in the same division will be found one brigade with its complement of bayonets and its guns always bright, whilst another just by, with originally the same number, has no bayonets and its guns invariably in bad order; one will not allow the burning of rails or other depredations of property, whilst the adjoining brigadier of the same command says the evil cannot be stopped; one holds his colonels responsible for Government property, whilst the other says it is impossible to bring volunteers to such a high state of discipline. The illustration might be extended to show that an army with good brigadiers will have good discipline, and that without them the best troops deteriorate. The greatest evil that flows from this laxity in the execution of orders is straggling. It is the parent of almost every other irregularity that affects the army, and contributes more than all others to injure its good name. If the orders governing this subject were rigorously enforced by general officers, thousands of muskets would be heard in every fight that are now never fired, and the disgraceful depredations committed upon private property would be unknown. General Orders, Numbers 110, Army Head-


Page 1276 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LIV.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 42, Part 2 (Richmond-Fort Fisher)
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