from the lack of greater degree to uniformity and immediate responsibility, has been milions of dollars. The extent and expense of this branch of the service is much greater, I apprehend, than is generally supposed, engaging, as it does, a large portion of the 340 steamers and hundreds of barges now navigating these rivers. Some idea of its magnitude may be seen be referring to the report of Captain Parsons of the business of this office for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1863, and abstract of which is hereto annexed, and yet this, it must be borne in mind, is but the report of a single shipping point in this valley, though the most important one. For a correctt add to this the transportation of each quatermaster at Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Louisville, Caire, and the many other points on the upper and lower riverrs; and still further must be added all the transportation on boats owned by or under charter to the Government, and at times numbering more than 100, of which there is at present no report made or record kept, and by which means all the great movements like the transfer of General Pope's army from New Madrid up the Tennessee, General Grant's army from Memphis to Vicksburg, and the like, have been performed. And again its magnitude and importance may be seen by considering that the large armies of Generals Grant, Rosecrans, Blanks, and Steele, on the lower rivers, and of others on the Upper Missouri and Mississippi, have been almost exclusively dependent upon our river transports for their re-enforcements in immense supplies. Indeed, one need but look at this immense network of rivers, embracing many thousands of miles of navigation, and watering the great States of this whole valley, to see the importance of thorough system in attaining efficiency and economy. The means of transportation on all these rivers are of the same character, and generally equally available and adapted to service at any point. Those upon the Alleghany, Saint Peter's, and Illinois this week may be upon the Platte, the Yazoo, or Red rivers next week. Those now loading at Pittsburg, Cincinnati, and Louisville will within a few days be at Saint Louis, Memphis, New Orleans, or Mobile, all doing equally useful and profitable business, though their location is widely changed. The great demand for water transportation in the West has been and must continue during the war to be from Cumberland, Tennessee, and Lower Mississippi, to either of which rivers at an ordinary stage of water it can be furnished equaly well from Cincinnati, Louisville, or Saint Louis. Hence the facilities and rates of transportation should not under ordinary circumstances materially vary on any of our rivers or at any important point, and it would seem that a thorough organization, producing uniformity, effeciency, and responsibility, could easily be prefected; yet such has not generally been the result, and though, so far as the Department of the Missouri is concerned, the evils hereinafter mentioned have been in part corrected, since the order of the Quatermaster-General requiring all charters made in that department and its dependencies to be referred to Saint Louis for settlement, yet that order being only partial in its operation, these abuses still, to some extent, exist.
Each officer, acting individually, charters, seizes, or detains transports at his own pleasure, regardless of expense or the wishes, plans, or necessities of others, the natural result of which has been complaint, confusion, inequality, and extravagance in rates paid, in some cases, which I think can scarcely elsewhere had existed. Some officers, either from ignorance, indifference, or intention, have paid such extraordinary and unnecessary prices that the owner of every old boat has seen,