HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Camp near Rockville, Md., September 9, 1862.
The general commanding has observed the frequent absence from their commands while in camp, and from their columns on the march, of superior officers. These laxities must be remedied. Inattention and carelessness on the part of those high in rank has been one fertile source of the straggling and want of discipline which now obtain in the various corps.
The safety of the country depends upon what this army shall now achieve; it cannot be successful if its soldiers are one-half skulking to the rear, while the brunt of battle is borne by the other half, and its officers inattentive to observe and correct the grossest evils which are daily occurring under their eyes.
The general commanding entreats all general officers to lend every energy to the eradication of the military vice of straggling. He feels assured that their united determination can break up the practice in a single week.
By command of Major-General McClellan:
Washington City, September 9, 1862.
Major General GEORGE B. McCLELLAN,
Headquarters Army of Washington:
GENERAL: Requisitions for provisions and supplies for the portion of your army north of this city are received, and the quartermaster of this depot, Colonel Rucker, has not the means of transporting them to the front, as requested. This service should be performed by the supply trains of the army. Its chief quartermaster has been ordered to turn over surplus wagons to the depot quartermaster, who has not as yet received them.
Colonel Clary reports that he brought in from Centreville not less than 3,000 wagons. You had at Harrison's Landing 2,700. General Burnside had a number. I believe there are with the army under your command not less than 6,000 wagons, drawn by 30,000 animals, and yet such is the confusion that it is impossible this morning to send out at once the supplies called for by your requisition. I think that while stationary here, no regiment should be allowed to have in its camp more than two or three wagons, which could haul out its daily rations from the depot; that the rest should be unloaded and parked about this city for use as supply trains, and for issue to regiments ordered to march, none of which should be allowed in all more than one wagon to 80 men, including officers.
The extra wagons, now filled with officers' baggage, should be emptied, and the officers compelled to move without this unnecessary load.
None but the stringent authority of the commander of the army can carry out this reform, and, until it is done, the army will not be a movable one, and will not be effective. Colonel Ingalls, your chief quartermaster, armed with full power from you, could, if here, in a few days reduce to order this confusion, which is now wasting the Treasury and the means of transportation collected here. The wagons and teams having once been issued to your army, I have not the power to organize them, as orders from me in relation to them interfere with your authority.
15 R R-VOL XIX, PT II