Subsistence and Quartermaster's Departments have established within the pale of this military department independent organizations, reporting to them at Richmond direct. Their operations, not being under hte orders of hte commander of the department, are unknown to him, and hte officials conducting them, not being subject ot his supervision,a re known to him only by the necessity he is under of drawing upon them for such supplies as they may happen to have, or by the redress which is asked of him against their official irregularities. The inconvenience and hazard of this dependence of an army in the field on quartermasters and commissaries over whom the commander has no control could not have been considered by the Department when the present system was instituted, and when it is added that by a circular from the Quartermaster-General to his chiefs it is ordered that all requisitions for stores shall be made on his depots, and be first sent by commanders to Richmond for his approval before they can be honored, the magnitude of the evil will be realized.
The truth is the system cannot be worked; it must be broken down and disregarded by the necessities of the case or it will break down the armies in the field. Besides, the system involves the employment of a double or triple set of agencies, clears, and retainers, and swells the ranks of idlers and drones. I respectfully suggest that the work to be done in the department be placed directly under the charge of the commander of the department, who should be held responsible for the efficiency and thoroughness with which it is done. Instead of being managed as at present, let these subment headquarters, and the department commanders be required to incorporate them into and to have them made part of his general present; the Government, which is 1,000 miles off, will have a better guaranty for the thoroughness with which its work is done, and the army commander will neither be kept in the dark as to the resources upon which he is to rely nor have hte success of his operations dependent on the capacity or efficiency of staff officers whose labors he does not direct and for whose fidelity he has no responsibility. The department commander is at present required to furnish a tri-monthly field return of hte troops un his command, and those troops are at all times subject to the orders of the Government, to be placed where it shall direct; so might it be with the stores. A quartermaster's or provision return might be made three times a month, to accompany the field return as tot he troops at hte disposal of the Government. If it should be found that the department commander would longed to him, it would be easy to check that by restrictive orders.
What I have said of the Quartermaster's and Commissary Departments applies with equal force to the Department of Field Transportation, now in the hands of Major Paxton. It may be well to add that owing to my having no official responsibility for the oversight, and preservation of these stores they were exposed to be lost in the recent invasion of this department, and that my cares and labors I know the inconvenience of making changes in a system organized, but it was an experiment in the first place, and if the parties whose opportunities of observing its workings best pronounced it a fail-