OPINION OF THE COURT.
It is the opinion of this court that, from the facts elicited in the investigation of the conduct of the quartermaster's department of the Army of the Mississippi while under the control of Lieutenant.
Colonel (then Major) Eugene E. McLean, it appears that the department was managed with all the energy, efficiency, forethought, and success which could have been expected under the difficult circumstances attending the sudden concentration of our armies; the unexpected occupation by the enemy for our principal fields of supply; the inability to obtain forage within reasonable reach of the army by means of wagon transportation; the failure or inability of the railroads of the country to transport from a distance, when purchased, forage to the army; the closing of the great markets of New Orleans, Memphis, and Nashville; the interference by agents of other branches of the service with the departments of purchases of forage and of transportation, under Lieutenant-Colonel McLean; the original scarcity throughout the country of all supplies needed; the continuance of such scarcity in consequence of the existing blockade of the ports of the Confederacy, and the inexperience of nearly all quartermasters' agents in the beginning of the war.
It further appears from the evidence that in the arduous duties attending the evacuation of Corinth by the Confederate Army under General Beauregard, the quartermaster's department was fully represented by able and efficient officers, present at the railroad depot day and night, and to their activity is the successful removal of the public stores, for which the quartermaster's department was responsible at that place, mainly attributable. That the quartermaster's department during the day and night preceding the evacuation was efficiently aided by the personal exertions of General Bragg and several members of his and General Beauregard's staff, and by the exertions of General Benton's regiment, together with other details from the army.
It also appears from the evidence that the evacuation of Corinth, so far as the quartermaster's department was concerned, was a complete military success, and that, although so short a time was allowed to remove the stores,but little property was lost, and that but of small value, being mostly worthless or condemned stores. The several losses of the engines and cars, together with the public property contained in the latter,destroyed on the morning of the evacuation on the Hatchie and Tuscumbia Bridges, on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad by our troops,and on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad at Booneville by a raid of the enemy's cavalry, are shown from the evidence to be in no way attributable to the quartermaster's department.
The court is also of opinion that the investigation had further shown that in the conduct of the department committed to his charge Lieutenant-Colonel McLean was prompt, energetic,and efficient in the discharge of all the duties of his office while chief quartermaster of the army, and that while in the execution of those duties his instructions to and teachings of his subordinates contributed much to the success attendant on their exertions and to the introduction and maintenance of the proper system and order in the various branches of the department instructed to his supervision and control.
III. The court of inquiry of which Col. M. Lewis was president is hereby dissolved.
Adjutant and Inspector-General.