War of the Rebellion: Serial 021 Page 0648 W.FLA., S.ALA., S. MISS., LA., TEX., N. MEX. Chapter XXVII.

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New Orleans, January 15, 1863

Major General N. P. BANKS,

Commanding Department:

SIR: In obedience to your order to report the condition in which I find my department in this city I have the honor to submit the following:

General Butler had had no officer of either corps of engineers upon his staff for three or four months prior to our arrival, and this branch of the service was in great confusion.

No organized system of reconnaissance with troops existed, and the few maps and sketches to be found in the department were mostly scattered among the different brigade headquarters or filed away where they were of no general use. No means of multiplying copies existed.

For making surveys within our lines Mr. W. H. Wilder, a civil engineer of this city, was employed at the rate of $20 a day, with twenty-three assistants several of whom received $5 a day. Mr. Wilder supplied the department with maps claimed to be based on original surveys, when some of them at least were chiefly compiled from published maps. His loyalty is not above suspicion, since I have a map dedicated by him to "L. Pope Walker, Secretary of War." My first act was to discharge this man and his party.

My department is now well organized. I have about a dozen civil assistants, carefully selected (rate of pay $4 per day), some of whom are attached to the headquarters of independent commands, to perform any assigned engineer duty: others are employed in surveys and reconnaissance under my immediate direction, and the rest engaged in preparing maps in the office. I have a photographic establishment, by which these maps may be rapidly multiplied for distribution, either on the original or on a reduced scale. I have a large collection, of maps and books by which detailed information can readily be obtained relative to any designated part of the department, and I have submitted a project of a plan by which the efficiency of this branch of my duty may be still further increased.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,


Captain and Chief of Topographical Engineers.


New Orleans, January 15, 1863

Major General N. P. BANKS,

Commanding Department of the Gulf, New Orleans:

GENERAL: In reply to your communication requiring a statement as to the condition of the inspector-general's department I have the honor to report as follows:

The office of inspector-general was not created in the Department of the Gulf until November 10, 1862, when Colonel Dudley, Thirtieth Massachusetts Volunteers, was detailed for the position. He gave his personal attention to the important duties of his position, and from reports made by him I find that the old regiments in the department have been much reduced by the diseases incident to the climate and the efficiency of regiments much impaired by detailing officers to fill civil positions. This last cause of inefficiency is particularly noticeable in the Twelfth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers: