Of the field officers the major was present. The colonel is acting mayor of New Orleans, and the lieutenant-colonel is the president of the New Orleans and Opelousas Railroad. Of the staff the chaplain only was present. The adjutant was sick; quartermaster under arrest; the senior surgeon detached to take charge of Saint James Hospital in New Orleans, and the assistant surgeon was on duty at the regimental hospital. (Colonel Dudley's Report.)
The forts for the protection of the city have been sadly neglected.
Reports of inspection made of Forts Macomb and pike on the 2nd and 3rd of December, 1862, by Colonel Dudley, exhibit a criminal neglect of those important posts. They are poorly supplied with implements for working the guns and very deficient in ammunition.
I relieved Colonel Dudley on the 19th of December, 1862, and commenced a thorough inspection of the new regiments. I have not seen one fit to take the field. The ignorance of officers is lamentable. In one instance the lieutenant-colonel commanding Fifteenth New Hampshire Volunteers admitted that he could not give the commands to pass his regiment in review. The colonel of another regiment (Forty-seventh Massachusetts) executed the same movement in such a style that it was humiliating to witness it.
The efficiency of several regiments is destroyed by their miserable arms. The Fifteenth New Hampshire had the old flint-lock musket altered to percussion. The arms had been much used; many could not be cocked. Quite a number had the hammers off, and the bayonets did not fit the pieces.
The Forty-seventh Massachusetts have the Austrian rifle, made of poor material and badly constructed. I examined eight hundred of these rifles and I do not consider one hundred serviceable.
The Sixteenth New Hampshire have the Vincennes rifle. Twenty per cent. are defective. In one company seventeen were found that would not snap a cap. Even if the drill of such regiments was perfect they could not be relied on.
I am, general, respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. S. ABERT,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Assistant Inspector-General.
OFFICE CHIEF OF ARTILLERY, DEPT. OF THE GULF,
January 15, 1863
Major General N. P. BANKS.
Commanding Department of the Gulf:
GENERAL: Agreeably to your request of last evening, calling for a brief statement of the condition of the artillery in this department, I have the honor to state on my assuming charge of this office I was unable to procure any information whatever of the condition of the artillery belonging to General Butler's command. From statements since received I am of the opinion that none of the batteries belonging to that command are in a condition to take the field efficiently, and the want of the most essential parts for their equipment precludes the possibility of preparing them properly for some time to come.
In regard to the artillery assigned to your expedition, but one battery has arrived here. The horses and the greater part of the ordnance stores for the same are also due. Under these circumstances I am of the opinion that it must be exceedingly hazardous, if not impossible to make any offensive movements at this time, so far as pertains to the present state of my department. A circular has been issued from this