is undefined, and the respect and consideration necessary to the performance of their duties is not shown to them. The returns are not regularly or properly made, and the requisite blanks and stationery are not properly supplied. The medical stores are said to be sufficient.
I did not examine the hospitals established in the rear of the army. The complaint is general that they are conducted with little attention to order or system or to those details which render such places endurable. The superintendence of a large hospital is a business, and eminence in consultation is not the sole qualification for it. The relaxation of discipline and want of hospital accommodation which permitted the dispersion of the sick on plantations has saved many valuable lives. The broad hospitality and unwearying kindness of the people of Mississippi were extended to our sick soldiers with a liberality so bountiful that thanks of our whole people are due to them. No eulogy could do them justice. In view of the almost utter hopelessness of adequate hospital arrangements, notwithstanding the disadvantages of scattering sick soldiers and releasing them from the immediate supervision of military authority, some system should be devised for the distribution of the sick on plantations, where they could enjoy comforts and careful nursing and yet receive medical attention.
The army having heretofore relied greatly on railroads for transportation of supplies, the requisite wagon trains are not in possession of the quartermaster's department. Efforts are being made to secure them, and in a short time there will be adequate transportation of this kind. The mules are generally large and in order. The transportation is of fair quality and in good condition. That belonging to the army corps of Major-General Polk is especially commendable; in the Army of the West it seems to have suffered most. The supply of corn in the prairie country south of Tupelo will be ample for forage, but experience has shown that the animals suffer greatly in winter without long forage, and it is therefore recommended that timely efforts be made to obtain a supply, even if it be only of the coarse swamp grass of the South.
Great abuses have been perpetrated by persons in the employment of the quartermaster's department in "pressing" the property of private citizens. The seizure by government of private property is a right to be used in extreme cases only, is always odious, and cannot be safely exercised by subordinates. Some stern example will be necessary to check the oppression of minor officials.
Just complaint exists of the quality of the rations and the irregularity of their issue. Great suffering occurred from this cause at Corinth and on the retreat. Since then there has been improvement. It is stated that a portion of the salt beef issued was put in poplar boxes instead of tight casks, and was consequently spoiled and unwholesome. Investigation should be instituted as to the packers of this beef. Energy will be required to supply the army hereafter with fresh beef. Four thousand head of cattle were reported to General Bragg as having crossed the Mississippi at the mouth of Red River. More were waiting to cross at the same point.
The supply of flour from this year's crop will be small. The Indiana corn crop will be unprecedented, owing to the vast area of cotton land planted in this grain. The soldiers prefer corn meal-to the use and preparation of which they are accustomed - to wheat flour. I saw them exchanging measure for measure. Enough flour cannot be procured to subsist the army. It would be well to substitute corn meal in