short forage; 40 rounds of carbine and 20 rounds of pistol cartridges to each man were also taken. No more supplies were drawn by this command until the evening of the 7th of May, on which day we recrossed the Rappahannock at Kelly's Ford, and marched to Bealeton Station, on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, where we found supplies of forage and subsistence.
You direct in your telegram that I state whether it is considered an advantage for knapsack to be carried on such a march, and whether it can be done without causing unusual fatigue. In reply, I wound state that the command with which I was, was composed entirely of cavalry, with six pieces of artillery, and no knapsack are ever carried by either. From my former experience with infantry, however, I am of the opinion that in such a march as that lately made by this army knapsacks are the great incumbrance to the men, and should not be carried.
The amount of clothing taken by this command was one suit, which each man wore, and in most cases one blanket was taken, besides the saddle blanket. No clothing was thrown away during the march.
With reference to the use of pack-mules as a means of transportation instead of the army wagons, my experience and observation lead to the belief that for cavalry operations in this country they are not advantageous to the service, although it is my opinion that a few mules, say 12 to each regiment, could be retained, and might be frequently of great service in taken forage and subsistence to regiments on picket and at a considerable distance from depots.
My reasons for this opinion are the following, viz:
1. It is impossible to find a sufficient number of men in the ranks who have had any experience in packing mules, and packing is an art which can only be learned by actual and long experience.
2. The pack-mule system takes away largely from the effective military strength of the command. To mange properly the pack-mule train, it has been found necessary to detail at least 1 man to every 2 mules; in many regiments 1 man to each mule has been detailed to pack, take care of the mules, and keep them closed up on the road. To carry subsistence for 400 mounted men, and short rations of short forage (10 pounds to the horse), number of mules required is as follows:
400 rations hard bread, coffee, sugar, and pork,
2 1\2 pounds to the ration.............................. 1,000
400 short rations grain, 10 pounds each.................. 4,000
At 200 pounds to the mule, this requires 25 mules. This amount could be transported by two army wagons,. drawn by 12 good mules, and requiring the attention of only two teamsters, thus saving the service of 11 men and 13 mules.
A pack train of 25 mules stretches out over about 75 yards, while two 6 mule teams closed up occupy a short space of only about 24 yards. The delays with a large pack train are very numerous. The train is constantly being disarranged, and interferes in no small degree with the marching of the troops. The wastage in the supplies transported is much greater than when carried in wagons, particularly of grain, and when travelling with a cavalry command, on an expedition similar to the one lately made by a portion of this corps, it is frequently necessary to keep the packs on the mules for a long time, which increases very much their liability to sore backs.
Nearly two-thirds of all the pack-mules in this corps are now more or less broken down and rendered temporarily unserviceable, on account
36 R R-VOL XXV, PT II