I have during the year frequently reported my views to the best and proper means of transportation for an army. I do not think that the kind and amount now furnished and allowed these armies can be improved upon. The common six-mule wagon has proved to be the most economical and durable for years past of any ever tested. Pack trains should be provided as prescribed in the order herewith, marked A. A. special wagon or caisson should be furnished to carry all ammunition, small-arm as well as artillery. I forwarded a sketch of the carriage, with an explanatory letter of General Hunt, with my report of last year. The mules should be hitched to this wagon as they are to the common army wagon,with one driver, and not as in the artillery service.
Our troops are undoubtedly loaded down on marches too heavily even for the road, not to speak of battle. I have witnessed great loss of knapsacks and articles of clothing on the routes taken by our troops at the commencement of campaigns. In my report of the Chancellorsville campaign I showed you that the loss of knapsacks of those actually engaged was at least twenty-five per cent. I am in favor of putting the lightest possible weight on the soldier, consistent with his wants and the character of the service. I do not think the knapsacks should be dispensed with altogether, for it should, ordinarily, form a part of the equipment, but on short campaigns, and on the eve of battle and when near the supply trains, a blanket rolled up and swung over the shoulder and looped up under the arm, is sufficient without knapsack or overcoat. The soldier can carry three days' cooked food in his haversack. If necessary, he can carry two or three days' bread and some underclothes in his blanket. Our men are generally overloaded, fed, and clad, which detracts from their marching capacity, and induces straggling. I do not propose any modification, however, as our commanders understand these matters better than I do, probably; at any rate, they know what they want, and have the power to make such changes as they may deem proper.
The reports referred to in paragraphs 2,3,5, and 7 of your orders will be furnished you in detail by the officers who have served under me.
I desire to remind you of my profound obligations for the very prompt, cheerful,and powerful support you have uniformly extended to me. My warmest thanks are also due to General Rucker and his depot officers, who have always responded to my requisitions.
To the soldierly and accomplished quartermasters serving with the armies I owe the deepest gratitude. They have performed their laborious and responsible duties, without exception, with unexampled zeal, energy, and intelligence. You have been good enough to cause many of them to be promoted.
In the closing paragraph of my last report I called your attention to the merits of Captains Ferguson and Stoddard, then on duty at Alexandria. I am pained to know now that both of us were deceived, and that out confidence was misplaced.
There has been no instance of embezzlement or misappropriation of public moneys or property on the part of any quartermaster serving with these armies during the past fiscal year, so far as I have the means of being informed.
I am, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
Brigadier-General and Chief Quartermaster of Armies operating against Richmond.
Bvt. Major General M. C. MEIGS,
Quartermaster-General U. S. Army.