supplies were expected. A military route was accordingly opened from Perryville, on the Chesapeake, by steamers to Annapolis, and thence by railroad to Washington.
In view of the necessities of the crisis Congress, it is not doubted, will justify the steps taken. As the movements of the U. S. forces are continued, the supervision of railroad and telegraph lines will remain a necessity, to be met by the Department. I would therefore recommend the propriety of an appropriation to be made by Congress to be applied, when the public exigencies demand, to the reconstruction and equipment of railroads and for the expense of maintenance and operating them, and also for the construction of additional telegraph lines and their appurtenances. I would also recommend a special appropriation for the reconstruction of the Long Bridge across the Potomac, which is now a military necessity.
The importance of enforcing the strictest discipline where active army operations are carried on in the rebellions States cannot be too strongly urged. Public confidence is for the time being destroyed, and the nice moral distinctions which obtain among men in well-ordered communities are apt to be lost sight of. The Federal courts being suspended, grave offenses may be committed over which our military courts as now organized have no authorized jurisdiction. It would seem only consistent with a just regard to the interests of the Government and the people that some properly organized military tribunal should be empowered to take cognizance of criminal offenses and to punish the offenders when found guilty. Such a tribunal should not have any jurisdiction when the functions of the Federal courts are uniterrupted. I therefore recommend that the subject be referred to the consideration of Congress.
The subsistence of troops now in service is a matter of the highest importance. Rations proper in quality are quite as essential to the efficiency of an army as valor or discipline. It is desirable, therefore, that the quality of rations distributed to the troops should, as far as possible, be adapted to their previous dietary habits. While it cannot be expected that the luxuries to which many have been accustomed should be provided by the commissariat, a just regard to health imposes upon the Government the duty of furnishing sound, healthful, and palatable good. A larger proportion of vegetables and of fresh meats, when they can be procured, than can now be furnished under the Army Regulations would undoubtedly diminish the danger of epidemics among troops.
I therefore submit the question whether it would not be expedient for Congress to enlarge the powers of the commissariat so as to enable it the better to carry into practice the views here suggested. As all requisitions for camp equipage, for the means of its transportation, and for supplies are made upon the Quartermaster-General's Department, it is highly essential that every facility should be afforded its chief for meeting al such requisitions with promptness. At present the power of that bureau is limited. For instance, it seems very desirable that the troops in field should be supplied with waterproof capes and blankets, to serve as a protection against the effects of the climate. As the Army Regulations do not recognize such an item of clothing, and as no discretion has been lodged with the Department to act in the matter, many of the troops, for the lack of this essential outfit, have suffered much inconvenience. Some of the States of New England have sent their quotas forward equipped most admirably in this respect. I would recommend that this subject be commended to Congress for its favorable consideration.