Third. That all surplus ordnance stores are turned over to the proper officers, and the arms kept in good condition.
Fourth. All requisitions to be approved by them, and preference given to those regiments that take best care of their horses and arms.
If the above suggestions are impracticable, the inspectors of the chiefs of cavalry should be instructed with the duties.
The experiences of this war, and particularly General Smith's late expedition, have demonstrated that the most successful raids in the enemy's country have been effected by small bodies of troops well armed and equipped. it was with the greatest difficulty that this column was equipped. It was with the greatest difficulty that this column was subsisted in the country through which they marched. From 1,500 to 2,500 men, under a skillful commander, could have accomplished much more and effected the junction with General Sherman.
There is nothing more discouraging to brigade or division headquarters than to know that their commands are constantly subject to detail from some chief of cavalry as soon as they have arrived at a proper state of discipline.
On such an extended line of operations as exists in the west a corps organization of cavalry is not deemed expedient. It is seldom that such a large force is called to act together under the command of one officer.
In reach of the Armies of the Cumberland, Tennessee, and Ohio there is now an average of about thirty regiments of mounted troops. This force, organized into three brigades in each army, could at all times prevent any serious damage by raids, and also attend to all the outpost and picket duty that belongs to cavalry.
It is advisable to discourage all mounted infantry regiments. Many of these regiments the Cavalry Bureau have no account of. They deprive the cavalry of their proper allowance of forage, pay no attention to stable duties, have neither curry-combs nor brushes, and General Smith remakes that if these infantry regiments were, all dismounted they would furnish enough horses to mount all the cavalry of this department.
The horses forwarded from Saint Louis have begun to arrive at Nashville, and are considered the best lot of horses that have been received for a long time. It is recommended that a quartermaster, under the direction of the Cavalry Bureau, be sent to that place to receive and issue the horses. A plan should also be adopted to care for the broken-down horses. At present very few are taken up or cared for, but turned loose to die of starvation. On the march from Knoxville to Strawberry Plains upward of 200 of the poor animals were seen on the roads starving. These horses should be picked up and corralled.
It is to be feared that the country will be inadequate to supply the horses necessary to keep up the cavalry force in its present condition. Greater care should be taken in the appointment of cavalry commanders. As yet no estimate can be given of the number of horses that will be required for the next six months.
At Mount Sterling, Ky., 36 miles west of Lexington, the inspector found the First Division of Cavalry, of the Department of the Ohio, and the Fifth Indiana Regiment, of the Second Division. They were all in good condition, having received 1,200 horses from the quartermaster, and in expectation of 600 more, all of a very fair quality.
In the Department of the Ohio there were eight one-year mounted
17 R R-VOL XXXII, PT II