would have been furnished and forwarded. The cooking arrangements of the new soldiers are very defective.
Inquiries were made of me, by division surgeons, if in each regiment an assistant surgeon could not be detailed to attend to this matter, and to the police of quarters and camps. I told them I had not doubt that the commanders of divisions had such right, and would exercise it upon representation of the necessarily of such a measure being made to them. This want of system in getting, forwarding,and distributing supplies has been more or less felt in this army since taking the field, in September. Dr. Coolidge tells me that the supplies forwarded toward Frederick after the battle at South Mountain, and detained on the way, were within the lines of the army when stopped, and that the responsibility of detention rests with the officers of the army itself.
Upon further inquiry relative to the cause of the destitution of medical supplies that occurred in a few weeks after among the hospitals on the battle-field of Antietam, I am informed by Dr. Waters that it appeared to him that he medical officer in chief there might, with proper diligence, have obtained supplies.
In view of the condition of the Army of the Potomac, I am forced to the conclusion that the principal medical officer is not equal to his responsible station, and has failed in his duty, either from having too much to do or from neglect. Thorough efficiency and discipline in a body of men and officers can only be obtained by constant care and active supervision on the part of the commanding officers. There are many cases of incompetency among the subordinate officers of the Army of the Potomac, but these cases can be best determined and disposed of by the medical director or a permanent medical inspector. Some very good men I have seen, and could mention names if necessary. But the best means of reform is to place an entirely competent man in charge, who will substitute discipline and diligence for confusion and neglect.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
THOMAS F. PERLEY,
DUMFRIES, January 8, 1863.
My scouts in from the direction of Brentsville; went within 4 miles. Could not hear anything of a strong force there. Small detachments of bushwhackers and several scouting parties of the enemy out on the roads. My patrols toward there attacked by scouting party at 2 p.m.; lost 1 man, supposed to be captured. Shall send a strong part out in the morning. Have the cavalry at Occoquan any instructions about patrolling? Cannot hear of any of them doing duty on the branch roads to Brentsville. All quiet. Field-works under good headway, which will make this a strong point against an attacking force.
Colonel, Commanding Post.
HARPER'S FERRY, January 8., 1863.
Colonel WASHBURN, Moorefield:
You will make your arrangements and fall back to Romney with you whole force. Not that I think you are in any danger, but because at that place you can give better protection to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The cavalry from there can scout the country about Moorefield