HEADQUARTERS U. S. FORCES, Brazos Santiago, Tex., December 2, 1864.
Commanding Department of the Gulf, New Orleans, La.:
GENERAL: In relation to the method of procuring and issuing beef for this command, I have the honor to report that I have thoroughly investigated the matter and find the facts as follows:
A squad of Mexicans, ten or twelve in number, were employed driving the cattle from the head of Padre Island, and were in charge of William H. Jones, a private in Twenty-sixth Indiana Volunteers. These cattle were taken up by Captain Chamberlain, commissary of subsistence, as "purchased" at $5 per head. They were not weighed and an account kept of them, but the weight averaged at the close of the month of accord with the issues made to troops, refuges, employees, &c. The $5 paid per head by the commissary of subsistence was paid nominally to a Mexican and divided among the cattle drivers, Jones, of course, getting a share. What the ratio of division was is impossible to find out, as there were no accounts kept and there is no reliability in the statements made by the individuals concerned. Immediately on assuming command I charged the whole thing by ordering the commissary of subsistence to take the cattle up as captured property (as they really are), the proper record of brands and owners made, the cattle weighed and issued in accordance with subsistence regulations, and these cattle drivers employed at a stated price per month, paying the money to each individual performing labor. I should have discharged these men and procured the cattle by soldiers, but there were only thirty mounted men in the command, with broken-down horses. The cattle had to be driven from the head of Padre Island, 120 miles. There is no possible way to get beef for the command until move cavalry are sent here but to employ these drivers. I am of the opinion that small amounts of the beef were sold by parties engaged in butchering and handling the beef, but the matter was so managed that it is impossible to get such evidence as would make a case. The transportation department was also very loosely and irregularly conducted. From fifty to seventy-five persons pass this way from Matamoras to New Orleans per month who pay their fare. In some cases where the parties had no currency specie was taken dollar for dollar. No record was kept at headquarters of the orders given for transportation, and a very imperfect record at the quartermaster's office. All that there is to show in so much money taken up and accounted for as "received for transportation," without any data from which to verify the correctness of these accounts. I have endeavored to get at the facts in the case, but the whole thing was managed by Colonel Day, Captain Jordan, acting assistant quartermaster, and a Captain Brett, who is now out of service. No employees, clerks, or other parties had anything to do with it. No records were kept, and it is impossible to get reliable information about the matter.
I have relieved Captain Jordan with Captain Lombar, Sixty-second U. S. Colored Infantry, whom I know to be honest and reliable; [sic] keep a record of all orders for transportation given, specifying name, date, where, to, name of vessel, free or paid, whether in specie or currency, &c., and have a similar record kept in the quartermaster's office. I have established a post bakery from which I am furnishing good bread to the command for their flour ration, pound for pound, the saving going into a post fund that I have also established, which fund I am disbursing under the specific resolutions of a council of administration