WAR DEPT., QUARTERMASTER-GENERAL'S OFFICE, Washington, D. C., December 5, 1861.
Honorable SECRETARY OF WAR:
SIR: I respectfully call your attention to the propriety of early provision to meet the expense of constructing the armed flotilla on the Western rivers. Under the appropriations, amounting to $1,100,000, for "Gun-boats on the Western rivers," made by Congress at its last session, I was directed to contract for seven gun-boats. The plans of these vessels had been prepared by a naval constructor specially assigned to that duty by the Navy Department. Proposals were invited by advertisement, and it was consluded that the building, equipment, and maintenance of seven of these boats, with payment for three other gun-boats then in service, would exhaust the appropriation. The general commanding the Department of the West ordered at Saint Louis the construction of a fleet of martar-boats and of several tug-boats to be used with them, and the purchase and alteration into gun-boats of two river steamers, the New Era and the Submarine. All these were ordered by him in addition to those provided for by the Quartermaster's Department. Under his orders some money remitted to the quartermaster at Saint Louis for other purposes has beenb paid upon the contracts for this flotilla. The officers of the Quartermaster's Department who have expended this money were bound by the orders of the general commanding in the department, and should be protected from pecuniary liability incurred in the execution of those orders. While I am not called upon to express an opinion as to the necessity for the construction of so large a flotilla, I have no doubt that the Government is bound to pay the contractors their reasonable expenditures, and I have no doubt that, if armed and equipped and well manned, the vessels will add to the strength of the army in the West, and conduce to the success of the expedition intended to open the Mississippi. In the annual estimate from this office is an intem of $1,000,000 for gunboats on the Western rivers. Its early appropriation would enable the Department to complete and pay for the boats under construction, some of which are in danger of being delayed at Saint Louis until the interruption of navigation by ice. It would relieve those who, in good faith, have expended their labor and money upon these boats from heavy pecuniary liabilities.
M. C. MEIGS,
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE OHIO, Numbers 25.
Louisville, Ky., December 7, 1861.
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III. Brigadier General E. Dumont, U. S. Volunteers, will proceed to Bardstown, Ky., and take command of the camp established at that point. The quartermaster will furnish him the necessary transportation.
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By command of Brigadier-General Buell:
OLIVER D. GREENE,