The duties of such a chief commissary are, first, to organization with the chief quartermaster, the brigade and division trains which are assigned to carrying supplies for the former immediate issue, the latter for replenishing the first and hurrying forward supplies from points selected in conference with commanding generals and the Commissary-General, and for furnishing the train for hospital supplies needed for sick and wounded. Second, he must see that strict adherence is observed by the army commissaries to the necessities of his supplying or reducing the rations when there is well-grounded probability of not getting sufficient to last until more can be obtained. Third, he must see that provision returns are made on the principles of proper adjustment, so that troops going off or coming in may not cause more or less rations to be issued them, and are appropriate to the whole number of men to consume them. Fourth, he must, in harmony with the purchasing commissaries of this Bureau, obtain from the commanding general such information as may enable these officers to prepare for any movement for getting or securing supplies. Fifth, he must have funds to place in the hands of brigade commissaries when detached, and give them instructions to buy in conformity with the rates of purchase in the different districts, under circumstances where they can buy and the State agents are not operating, so as not to dissatisfy the people by unequal rates. He must familiarize himself with the law of impressment, and be ready to impress under instructions of the commanding general. When the commanding general sends out foraging parties in an enemy's country, the general will, of course, give special rules of action, dependent on the policy of his Government, as instructed by the War Department. Such duties make this officer the representative of this Department with the army and the commanding general, and he is guided by the rules approved by the Secretary of War, and is by no means on the staff of the general, and if he discharges these duties he ought to be acceptable to him, but loyalty to the general is no part of his qualifications. A review of the origin changes by which the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida has here reached will show that hitherto there has been no necessity for such and officer. The defense of the coast of Georgia gradually expanded into a State department. Virtually a similar process occurred in South Carolina, and finally these States were embraced in one department with Florida.
Thus Major Locke and Guerin were State commissaries, and the system of the circular of April 15, 1863, was approximately in operation in Georgia and South Carolina before it was inaugurated generally.
When General Lee was in command of that department the troops were arranged in chosen localities and the system of collecting and issuing answered perfectly well; the same under General Pemberton; no complaints were ever made. The troops were as well supplied as any others. They are now as well if not better off than the Army of Virginia, and as well as the necessary requirements of Johnston's and Lee's armies or that country will admit of and the general condition of the Confederacy permits. If they are not satisfied it is not because the existing system has not worked well or been badly managed. General Beauregard one year ago wished to break it up and to have a department chief commissary under his control as his staff officer. Injudicious orders and unwarranted interferences by the military organizations of the country have been given,