proceeded to Cincinnati; arriving at 8 o'clock p. m. At Lexington also we found that the opinion existed that the young men of Kentucky had joined the rebels; that no large bodies of troops could be raised in Kentucky, and that the defense of the State must necessarily devolve upon the free States of the West and Northwest.
Having accomplished the object of our visit to the West, we left Cincinnati on the 18th and reached Washington on the 21st, having spent the 19th and 20th at Harrisburg.
Honorable SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War.
QUARTERMASTER'S OFFICE, Saint Louis, Mo., October 11, 1861.
GENERAL: I take the occasion of the presence of the honorable Secretary of War and yourself to make certain inquiries.
Is it competent for every member of the staff of Major General John C. Fremont to issue orders in the name of the general, directed to me, and involving an expenditure of money?
Am I bound to recognize any other signature than that of Captain McKeever, the regularly-constituted assistant adjutant-general of the Western Department?
I desire to be instructed whether the simple approval of an account by the commanding general carries with it the weight of an order.
There are heavy accounts, involving hundreds of thousands of dollars, that have come under my observation, which are approved by Major General John C. Fremont, but in direct terms are not ordered. It is doubtless the intention of the general to order the payment. But as I understand the Army Regulations and the laws of Congress, an approval is not an order. If I am mistaken in this, I desire to be corrected.
Great latitude is taken in verbal orders. And the general being in the field, I cannot stop to question the authenticity of these orders, and feel it to be my duty to see them executed, although I have not the authority on paper necessary to carry these expenditures through the Treasury.
Accounts involving hundreds of thousands of dollars have been presented to me within the few days I have been here, informal, irregular, and not authorized by law or regulations.
No quartermaster who understands his duty can pay this class of accounts without involving himself in irretrievable ruin. I do not mean to say that these accounts are not just or should not be paid; but as they are outside of the regulations-in other words, extraordinary-they can be adjusted only by extraordinary authority.
Some three days ago I telegraphed the Quartermaster-General, M. C. Meigs, a message; and I give you an extract from memory: "If the reckless expenditures in this department are not arrested by a stronger arm than mine, the Quartermaster's Department will be wrecked in Missouri alone."
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major and Quartermaster.
General L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General U. S. Army.