War of the Rebellion: Serial 109 Page 0464 SW. VA., KY., TENN., MISS., ALA., W. FLA., & N. GA. Chapter LXIV.

Search Civil War Official Records

about $30,000, was taken into service in December with an ample crew of thirty to forty men, and in April was reported as having only five men on board; and though in the lightest kind of service, lying mostly at the shore as a medical purveyor's store, she received a voucher at the rate of $250 per day, or about double what she was justly entitled to, and when refused payment in this department (where alone it would seem the voucher should have been paid) at that most extravagant rate, her owner to another and collected the full amount of his voucher, by which the Government unjustly los many thousands of dollars and the owner received net as much for six month's services as his boat was worth. In this way most boats in Government employment have paid their owners net more than their value by a single year's service, while many have done it twice or three times over. Again, if frequently occurs that transports are ordered from point to point or very long detained merely at the caprice of, or to furnish quarters for, some officer more solicitous of this personal convenience than the public good. Thus millions have been wasted and worse than lost. In most cases I doubt not these sums have been paid from no ill design, often from ignorance of a business intricate and requiring experience to judge correctly, not unfreguently from indifference and neglect almost amounting to criminality, and in some cases from criminal intention. Do not, however, understood me as applying these remarks indiscriminately. On the contrary, I nize many who have most earnesly and loyally sturggled aganist these wrongs and faihfully sought to serve and protect the Government, though with a host of deeply interested, active, and often thoroughly disloyal men to combine against and thwart their plans, or, if unsuccessful, to complain and denounce them to their superior officers. Their labor has too often proved a thenkless task and left them little reward except to their country in its hour of peril. In an emergency the present management might produce a most serious injury to the service. For example, there are at present, as near as I can ascertain (for as business is at present conducted it is impossible to know with any accuracy), from 75 to 100 transports below St. Louis, many of which are unncessarily detained, and the result of which is, we are dangerously short of transportation at this principal point of supply.

On Friday, the 2nd instant, there were requisitions in Captain Parsons' office for the immediate transportation of over 6,500 mules, horses, and cattle, 600 wagons, and about 1,000 tons of other freight to General Banks' command at New Orleans, 1,200 miles distant; also for over 4,000 like animals to Memphis, Vicksburg, and Little Rock, and more than 3,000 tons of commissary and quatermaster's stores and coal to the same places, with considerable requisitions for Fort Leavenworth and other points on the Upper Missouri and Mississippi. So pressing was the demand from General Banks that he had sent an officer to General Allen, chief quatermaster, to urge forward his requisitions, as otherwise his movements might be seriously delayed, while the Memphis requisitions were urgently demanded in order to enable General Sherman to hasten to the support of General Rosecrans. To have transported these 10,50 animals, 600 wagons, and 4,000 tons of freight, not to speak of ordinary daily requisitions for transportation, which are always large, it would require, at the present very low stage of the river, at least from forty to fifty bahat there were not in this harbor exceeding five boats that could have been properly used for this service. Such are some of the existing errors and difficulties in the management of that important branch of the service-