measure to the ingnorance of the quartermasters. The want of such men as are asked for is felt throughout the department. I can send no one that will be a decided improvement upon those there. This is the class of men furnished me by the Government, and I presume the best to be obtained for the price. There are abundant other staff positions requiring no bonds, no responsibilities, substantially nothing to do, and better paid-take all the aides, &c., even General Dana's.
Measures have ben taken to have the Warrior repaired, but she can last no time at all at that place, for if not destroyed by bad handling and ignorance, the worms will eat out her hull in two months, for she is not capered. This holds with the Planter and the other boats. It may be recollected that the tug Perry, intended for this coast, was seized at Key West. I have purchased two since, one, the Admiral, of lesser draught than the one complained of by General Dana, and which is now at Pass Cavallo.
The system of boats required by General Dana cannot be supplied. A river boat of the capacity he speaks of cannot be built to draw but 3 fee of water, and in calm weather, with only the ordinary swell on, such a boat would break in two in four hours between Galveston and Matagorda, let alone the fact that the boiler would roll out. Only short, strong boats can reach that place, and such boats will sink deeper into the water. If General Dans is to stay in three places, without defensive works to cover his force from an enterprise at these points, it will require a small navy and fleet to secure him, and which cannot be had possibly. There is no boileriron in the city not engaged by the navy. There are no boiler-makers not already employed night and day.
The master of transportation sent to pass Cavallo was Captain Goodwin, of Boston, a though sailor and gentleman, specially imported for the position. He despaired of being able to do any good under the management at that time and returned, and was immediately discharged for his failure; $200 per month, his wages, were no inducement to stay.
The Continental an a sailing vessel, both incapable of crossing the bar, were sent down with the necessary stores, at the special instance of General Washborn and against my own judgment. The liberal means of making repaired are not to be had in this city, and are not supplied to me from the North. An officer has been applied for specially for Fort Brown and Pass Cavallo, but there is little hope of getting any improvement upon those now at those places. There is no promotion for a quartermaster; his pay is a pittance compared to the labor and abuse falling to his lot. Who, then, of the temporary ones has any inducement to great efforts to learn special duties and discharge them efficiently? The easy chair of a city commands higher pay, by the commutation, then service in the field. There appears to me but one remedy and one means of complying with General Dana's desire to have a quartermaster of rank. A brigadier-general may be detailed for Pass Cavallo and one for Brownsville, and a brigadier or major general for the department at this place. Such officers can be had; they have rank, the honors of their Government, and will have an opportunity of becoming acquainted with some of the practical operations of war.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,
S. B. HOLABIRD,
Colonel, Chief Quartermaster.