whole or in part for the ration of flour, and to serve out this grain also in the form hominy. I understood from General Beauregard that a steam-mill was intended to be put in operation to grind meal at or near Okolona. As yet nothing seems to have been done. The establishment of this and other mills requires prompt attention. The chief difficulty in the use of corn or meal is the danger of heating in depot. This night be obviated by the established of kilns for drying the corn. The coarseness of the meal as issued is another objection. This might be remedied by issuing sieves, or, better still, by bolting at the mill. The bran is valuable as forage. The best points for depots are at Montgomery, Ala., and at some point near Aberdeen, Miss., on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad.
Much waste occurs in the quartermaster's and commissary departments from the improvidence, negligence, and dishonesty of those in charge of the public stores on the railroad and at the depots. Greater precautions should be used in the selection of the guards for these stores and a more rigid accountability exacted of those in charge, and a system of mercantile shipments and receipts adopted and enforced with the railroads.
I respectfully submit exhibit marked G, containing extracts from the reports of Col. M. L. Clark, chief of artillery and ordnance, made May 25 and june 29.
The army is at present encamped on both sides of the Tupelo Swamp, on a series of sandy ridges, covered with a growth of oak,
black-jack, and hickory. The position is healthy, pleasant, and capable of defense. The most common shelter is a canvas fly, 10 men to a fly. Bush huts are sometimes used and in rare instances tents. The flies are the best. They give greater regularity in the arrangement of camps than bivouacs, and consequently tend to cleanliness and better discipline. They are better ventilated and more portable than tents. In the event of a forward movement even these will be left behind, and in that climate and season without inconvenience.
The men mess in small squads and cook badly; yet they have improved somewhat by the lessons of experience. Most of the brigades have brigade bake-ovens, generally with brick. The bread supplied by many of these is excellent, while from others, for want of competent bakers, it is had and little used by the men. In some regiments small company ovens are used. Where the nature of the soil permits their construction, they present some advantages over brigade ovens. They can be made in a few hours, are ready for use in a day or two, each the men to rely upon their own resources, and do not compel a change in the mode of cookery when the army is in motion.
Wells had been dug in sufficient number,and the supply of water, at from 18 to 20 feet below the surface, is cool, clear, ample, and of good quality. The camps are cleanly swept. The sinks are properly arranged and attended to. The kitchens are frequently furnished with a small pit, conveniently located, for the refuse. In a word, the police of the camps is admirable, and indicative of a high state of discipline.
The prospects of the army seem most encouraging; the moral tone of the men is good and their spirits are improving. The skeleton organization of the regiments is filling up by the return of convalescents. The hope of an advance has added to the energy and cheerfulness of the soldiers,and the certain evidences of improvement everywhere manifested give assurance that the Confederacy will soon possess there a disciplined and effective army.