idle, and to the manner in which they are employed, apparent to most officer who have seen them work, and which has oftentimes reported, both orally and in writing, to the headquarters of the department. Improvements in these things are generally apparent only on occasion of imminent danger, and credit is claimed for what is then done in an inverse ration to the responsibility which properly attaches to what has been left undone before.
I might cite instances, and complete specifications in extensor, but those to which I have alluded, I refer to as giving cause for this communication, objecting to the system pursued of making officers of that department, no mater what their capacity, to a great extent the controllers of our military defense.
It is true that in answer to inquiries which were some time since made by myself, it was said that district commanders were not forbidden to make use of such means as were at their disposal to protect points within their command. But the provisions attached to this authority, and the action pursued, have shown it to amount to next to nothing. Indeed, it seems to be that whenever anything is done to endeavor to repair the deficiencies of this department, it is quite sufficient to excite the interference and opposition of the chief engineer, who pursues a course of action looking much like obstruction. That is, being unable or unwilling to effect the necessary purpose, it is endeavored to prevent others from doing it - and in this he has hitherto been sustained.
Several times since the 7th of April last has it been stated, in communications from the headquarters of the department, that officers of the Engineers were directed to communicate freely with district and other commanders, and furnish them with information concerning the works progressing in their commands. I have the honor to report that not once within the last five months have I received from any engineers officer whatever any information concerning any works, excepting what I have sought, and in some instances this has been given with extreme unwillingness and delay. Meantime, the works progress in the usual way, some of which are or may be useful, some faulty and of no moment, and others of high necessity. Guns are to be shifted, cut off from their field of fire, &c.,, with no reference to the commanders, and not very much regard, in some instances, to the capacities of the armament, or the service which is to be performed.
Engineer officers make requisitions for details, employ them as they please or leave them unemployed, and in some cases even employees, not commissioned, see, to think that their judgment and authority are superior to that of district and other commanders. These facts are palpable. They have been hitherto presented to the headquarters of the department, and the system has been sustained.
Were the works progressing for the defense of our important points going on with energy; were the dispositions such as would effect their object; were the labor properly applied and not oftentimes wasted; and were it not that, by the working of the system and the assumption of some of these officers, the defense of positions is practically taken from the commanders and intrusted to those whose fitness for such confidence can be judged of by the loose and inattentive manner in which many perform their duties in their own sphere, it might be a duty to submit to the system without further remark, however averse it may be to the integrity of military operations. But I beg respectfully to state that the condition of these things is