public service, if still fit for service, should be returned to the United States at the original price-not sold at a profit.
Sutlers and army followers should not be permitted to take horses out of the lines. They, with aid or connivance of troops, send North captured and stolen horses. All such should be in possession or use of the Government or returned to their owners.
No horses of any kind should be left in possession of residents in the rebel country. A horse is as much contraband of war as a barrel of gunpowder, and, being used by a guerrilla, a spy, or a messenger, more injurious to us. Even in the plow they relieve the men from the necessity of digging for a living, and leave them free to plot mischief.
I hope within ten days to bring in 2,500 horses, and shortly afterward to supply your wants entirely. Permit me to suggest to you that you have 31,000 horses and 22,000 mules under your command. These cannot be all needed to feed the body of the army while resting in camp. Could not a body of infantry be mounted on some thousands of these, and aid cavalry and light artillery more rapidly to cut off the forces supposed to be collecting to Gerdonsville or Culpeper? Such expeditions could alarm and disturb, and, it seems to me, compel the enemy to concentrate in your front or scatter his troops in force to counteract them. If he has not a large force at Culpeper or Gordonsville, would not such an expedition cut off and capture whatever is there? A success would inspirit your men and help balance accounts of prisoners, for which we are here considerably in debt, it is said, to the rebels.
I am, very truly and respectfully, yours,
M. C. MEIGS,
CAMP NEAR FALMOUTH, VA., May 29, 1863.
Brigadier General M. C. MEIGS,
Quartermaster-General U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 12th instant, requesting a report of the operations of the quartermaster's department during the late campaign, and answers to certain inquiries.
I have required a report from each of the chief quartermasters of the different corps. They are here with inclosed, marked from A to H. I beg you will give these reports a close perusal, because they are very full, and contain much valuable information for our department touching the movement of troops in the field. In submitting these papers, I shall deem it necessary to give my views very briefly.
A copy of a report prepared by General Pleasonton, now commanding the Cavalry Corps, showing its present condition, is submitted, marked I.* Also, a copy of the proceedings of the board detailed to examine how many days' rations, clothing, &c., can be carried by troops on their persons on a march without wagons, herewith, marked K.+
I will reply to your questions as follows:
Question 1. "The orders for the outfit and equipment."
Answer. It was ordered mainly that each man should carry eight days' short rations of provisions, one change of underclothing, and 60 rounds of ammunition on his person. He was also to carry his blanket or overcoat, his musket, and accouterments. In many instances both blanket and overcoat were carried, but it was not the intention.
*See Pleasonton to Williams, p. 533. +See Inclosure D, p. 487.