I inclose printed copy of proceedings of a board which was specially convened with a view to marching the troops with a larger supply than three days'.
The movements incident to General Hooker's operations could not have been accomplished if the troops had been compelled to march with three days' rations only, and carrying the balance on wheels.
My judgment of the result of this experiment is, that if long marches are to be made without expectation of encountering the enemy before the supplies in the knapsackas are consumed, seven days' can be carried with perfect ease; that where the troops are to be put in action, it is not wise or judicious to put them in with this heavy load on them. Most of the officers speak very favorably of the facility of movement of heavy columns divested of huge trains. I think modern science could easily provide a concentrated ration, where the troops, without carrying any extra load, could carry ten days' rations in a concentrated form. It would enable them to march light and comfortably.
I inclose copy of the Moniteur de l' Armee, with Cholet's advertisements.*
The cavalry moved,by orders, without wheels, except batteries. They found no scarcity, but, on the contrary, a great abundance of corn, bacon, flour, and hay through the country in which they operated, and captured a sufficient number of horses to remount all that gave out or were broken down en route, and only complain of their horses being leg-weary and wanting shoes on their return. They did not complain of lack of supplies or forage.
While I am writing on this subject, excuse me for making a diversion. How can you expect to retain such valuable men as Ingalls in your department unless you secure them some promotion, when they daily see their comrades who have left the department, and gone into the line, rising to brigades, divisions, and corps, and they doing the drudgery of the army and gaining no substantial rewards?
Hastily and sincerely, yours,
Major-General, Chief of Staff.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Camp near Falmouth, Va., March 7, 1863.
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II. A board, to consist of the following-named officers, is hereby appointed to meet at the headquarters of Brigadier-General Pratt, at 10 a.m. on Monday the 9th day of March, 1863, or as soon thereafter as practicable, for the purpose of taking into consideration the practicability and means of carrying an increased amount of rations by the troops over the three days' usually carried.
The board will consider and experiment upon the best method, and report in detail their proceedings and views. They will have in view the marching of troops without incumbrance of extra clothing or sheltertents, the use of desiccated vegetablese or flour, and the carrying of fresh beef on the boof, and the omission, in consequence, of beef or pork from the ration.
Detail for the board.- Brigadier General C. E. Pratt, volunteer service; Colonel T. S. Allen, Fifth Wisconsin Volunteers; Captain O. O. Potter, Thirty-