I had been engaged since September last in receiving the regiments on their arrival in Washington, and initiating them in their duties. Something like 120,000 had thus received my attention. The division which had been organized as my own was constantly being drawn upon and the best troops generally taken out. When directed to fill up my division for the purpose of taking the field I was obliged to take eight new regiments, which had arrived in Washington only a few days previous, and several of them had not been armed. I thus had no opportunity of getting rid of the incompetent officers who are always found in new regiments. I had but one general of brigade, and he inexperienced, and not one full brigade staff. I had made repeated application to have a complete organization, so necessary to the proper performance of duty. I will here mention that I was the only officer of the Regular Army who was on duty in the division, with the exception of Colonel Bailey, who was assigned to me as chief of artillery only two days previous to marching. I was not able, although I had applied several times, to procure the assignment of one experienced officer to assist me as staff officer.
The division was ordered to move a few days after the assignment of the regiments, but the movement was so badly timed that it did not arrive in Alexandria until late at night, and soon after it commenced moving.
Not being permitted to take any transportation from Alexandria down the river, on encamping about 2 miles from Newport News I found myself without any means to transport supplies for the men; that duty for several days means to transport supplies for the men; that duty for several days was performed by the men. After waiting about two weeks I managed by great efforts to obtain an insufficient supply of transportation, the animals having been evidently culled over several times.
In advancing to Williamsburg the roads were in such a bad condition that I found it exceedingly difficult to keep the troops from starvation. From the orders which I received most of my division was separated from their knapsacks or shelter tents for several days. The exposure to the miasma of the Peninsula was a great source of sickness.
The Ninety-third New York Volunteers, about 700 or 800 strong, was detached from my command about ten days since. This, of course, should be deducted from the difference between the force at present in the division and that in March.
In short, I attribute one-half of the loss to the following causes:
1st. The imperfect brigade organization.
2nd. The fact that eight of the regiments were almost entirely new at the time of taking the field.
3rd. The incompetence and inefficiency of some of the medical, field, and company officers, and insufficiency of medical supplies.
4th. Mismanagement in logistics.
I have made every endeavor to remedy the above mentioned defects.
The other half of the loss I attribute to sickness from unavoidable causes.
I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General Volunteers, Commanding Division.
HDQRS. ARMY OR THE POTOMAC,
No. 131. Camp near New Bridge, Va., May 28, 1862.
Second Lieutenant George A. Custer, Fifth Regiment of Cavalry, is ap-