Western Virginia for the same commission allowed by the Western Department, to wit, 2 1/2 per cent. upon the cost price.
There are some 20,000 horses and mules to be brought to the Army of the Potomac for artillery and transportation, besides some twenty regiments of cavalry, requiring 20,000 horses more.
Of these the first 20,000 will probably be collected and delivered by the end of six weeks from this time. Their average cost will be $120, which would net the inspector in six or eight weeks, were he able to perform the duty, $60,000.
The quartermaster at Saint Louis, under General Fremont's direction, estimates supection cavalry horses at $130. Thousands and contracted for to be delivered here, to pass the inspection of cavalry officers or quartermasters and to conform to specifications, which all officers tell me are sufficient, and to cost, delivered here, $120. These are brought from the West.
No horses are being purchased in Cincinnati by Government agents for the Army of the Potomac. These bought there by the quartermaster are for Western Virginia or other Western armies.
The practice of going outside the legal agents of the Quartermaster's Department-the officers selected and appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate-to make contracts and disbursement is liable to great abuse, and should be resorted to only, I think, in case of extreme emergency.
I also inclose a telegram received from James M. Beebe & Co., Boston, by which it appears that they are informed that General Fremont has delegated to the Union Defense Committee of Chicago the powers and duties of the Quartermaster's Department in relation to contracting for and providing clothing for the troops. The advice and assistance of a committee of respectable and patriotic citizens might be of great use to this department, but I doubt the propriety and the wisdom of placing its funds thus under the control of a committee responsible only to public opinion. Certainly as Quartermaster-General and legal head of this department I cannot hold myself responsible for the acts of this committee or of Inspector Reeside, with whose appointment, so far as at present informed, no officer of this department has had anything to do, and whose functions and powers I learn only from themselves of from these with whom they attempt to deal.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
M. C. MEIGS,
UNITED STATES MILITARY TELEGRAPH,
[Received September 2, 1861, from Boston.]
To. M. C. MEIGS,
Quartermaster-General, U. S. Army:
General Fremont having appointed a Union Defense Committee at Chicago, Ill., they have made large contracts with a clothing house for army clothing, who apply to us for the goods. Is the United States Government legally responsible for contracts made in this way?
JAS. M. BEEBE & CO.
Washington, September 2, 1861.
Respectfully referred to the Secretary of War.
General Fremont appears to have delegated, if this statement be