officers for gallantry; especially is this true of the Second Louisiana, but in other attributes of soldiers equally requisite to make them efficient, they are totally deficient. I find that depredations upon the people have been in very many cases committed by the troops; particularly is this true of Colonel Terrell's brigade, encamped on the Bayou Boeuff, an evil growing out of the fact that from want of discipline and restraint they roam at will over the surrounding country. Brigadier-General Bagby, commanding cavalry, is, I am satisfied, desirous of correcting the evils existing, but, owing to the length of his lines, he is unable to give his personal attention to camp duty and order. I most earnestly recommend the appointment of boards of officers for the examination of field and company officers throughout the district, for the purpose of relieving the service of incompetent officers.
In the cavalry are many men mounted on mules. This is contrary to general orders from your headquarters, and the officers commanding those troops know that such orders are in force. From their dislike, however, to deplete their commands they suffer the disobedience to continue. In Harrison's brigade Louisiana cavalry there are not less than 100 men mounted on mules. The train mules of this brigade I may here mention are in most wretched condition, and by no means able to move the wagons should a forced march become necessary.
The infantry is encamped at Alexandria, and under, generally, a poor state of discipline. Their drill is rapidly improving under the personal direction of Lieutenant-General Buckner, who has recently taken it in hand. Too little care is taken by the brigade commander to render his troops efficient, either by drill or enforcement of discipline. He does not give that personal attention to the wants and exercises of his command which is absolutely necessary. I do not consider him a competent officer as disciplinarian, drill officer, or administrative. His knowledge of orders and regulations might be greatly increased, to the good of his command and himself. Many vacancies exist among the officers of this brigade, and the good of the service requires that they should be filled.
The defenses at Alexandria, on a line splendidly adapted to resist a river fleet, are progressing very slowly. The entire force engaged at the engineer shops, cutting and getting out timber, to carry on the work, and those at the work itself, amounted to 280. At this rate the works, three of them, cannot be completed before February or March. I would respectfully recommend the immediate employment of Thomas' brigade on the works, both to hasten their completion and the good of the command. I believe their efficiency would be promoted and they rendered more contended by being thus kept actively engaged.
The duties of post and depot quartermaster at Alexandria at present devolve upon one officer, who, though very competent and full of energy, is unable to do justice to both duties. I recommend the assignment of another assistant quartermaster to relieve him of one or the other branch.
The men of the district are sadly in need or money. Many of the regiments have not been paid for twelve months. I recommend the increase of the molasses and sugar ration. The chief commissary of the district assures me that were the quantity at present issued of these articles doubled he would then have in his district enough to supply the troops of General Buckner's corps two years. The ration as published in orders is never issued on account of the impossibility of procuring some of the articles designated as constituting a part thereof, and the ration, diminished by the absence of these articles, is I think