reference to their term of service. Some months prolongation of this term might been patiently submitted to as an exigency of the war. A right to reorganize at will might have satisfied all of those whom an imperious necessity did not call to their homes; but to be drafted for the war into companies, which experience had proved distasteful to them, engendered a spirit of bitter discontent, which in many instances was fanned by designing men. While the spirit of insubordination was rife the election of new officers took place,and a large number of valuable and experienced officers were replaced by men grossly incompetent and unable to pass an examination on their duties before the most indulgent boards. Their legal successors were equally unfit, and some regiments seemed tending toward disorganization and anarchy. Temporary appointments were made by the commanding general which in some instances have been ratified by the soldiers, but in others are still contested by rival claimants. The more intelligent opinion of the army seems to be that the purging power of the examining boards and the arbitrary action of the commanding general had improved the organization of the army. It would be well if the organization could be conformed to the law or the law to the organization. The organization has been improved by the arrangement of regiments in brigades by States. The Thirteenth Arkansas Regiment having been exchanged with General Cleburne's brigade for the Twenty-fourth Tennessee Regiment, the corps recently commanded by General Polk now consists entirely of Tennessee troops. Room for improvement still exists.
The discipline of the army seems excellent. The ordinary forms of respect to officers seem cheerfully paid. The respect for private property is very creditable. In the vicinity of the camps composing the Army of the Mississippi the fences are unharmed and the fields un-wasted. In the Army of the West, also, respect is shown to the rights of private property.
The older regiments show great skill and promptness in drill and the progress of the new levies is satisfactory. The daily exercise occupies five hours, which is ample. The carriage of the men is soldierly and guard duty is apparently well performed. The great improvement which I learn has been made since the retreat from Corinth in these details, as well as in police and other duties, is due in some measure to the better and more rigid system of inspection that has been inaugurated. Further improvement in this direction might be expected if the law authorized the appointment of brigade inspectors and if more thorough instruction in their was given this branch, of the staff. I am informed that the need and educated staff is sorely felt. The duties of regimental adjutants are badly done, as their returns show.
At present the staff is generally appointed on the recommendation of the officer to whom it is assigned. The considerations which lead to the recommendation tend frequently to prevent a strict exaction of the performance of duty by the staff. This has grown to be a great evil. It is therefore recommended that, excepting the personal staff of officers, a thorough change be made in the assignment to duty of staff officers, and that disbursing officers be required to settle their accounts more frequently and without warning. The interests of the service would be advanced.
The medical department is in a state of great confusion and disorganization. Few of the acting surgeons have been regularly appointed. They have been assigned to duty by medical directors, by generals, and even by colonels, or employed by contract. The position of these gentlemen