War of the Rebellion: Serial 109 Page 0465 Chapter LXIV. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.- UNION.

Search Civil War Official Records

railroad and river transportation. And while I confess they are more easily pointed out than corrected, yet I can but think some improvements can be made, or at least should be attempted, and in addition to the modifications already suggested in regard to railroad transportation, I will add such others as more particularly concern steam-boat transportation, or are common to both, and the adopation of which would, in my opinion, result in greater efficiency and economy:

First. I hink there should be in the Quatermaster-General's Office at Washington an officer charged with this specific service. By this division of duty and labor great experience, promptness, and attention might be obtained.

Second. As Washington is so remoto from the vast movements and transactions on the Mississippi, as the investigations there must necessarily proceed slowly, and as officers at so remote a point cannot, with every effort, be well and promptly advised of what are just and proper rates, or whether transports are properly managed or imporperly compensated, I think to obviate thses difficulties, produce more immediate responsibility and unity of action, there should be appointed by the War Department, and stationed at some central point, an officer who, subject to the chief quatermaster of that department, should have the general superintendence at least of all steam-boat transportation on the Mississippi and its tributaries, regardless of department lines. Such an officer should be situated where he can be most easily reached by telegraph, should be constantly advised of all important requisitions for transportation, should have the general superintendence of all important contracts and everything pertaining to this branch of the service, with authority to require reports made to him, not interfering with any at present required.

Third. As a branch of the service of such magnitude and importance, and at the same time so varied and intricate, requires not only untiring energy bue experience and superior executive talent, I think if of such importance that there should be detailed and kept at several of the most important points assistant quatermasters of most experience in and best suited to this peculiar service.

Fourth. As private enterprise will always perform the same service cheaper than the Govermment can, transports should never be charterd when it is practicable to make contracts in the ordinary mercanitle manner by the piece or 100 pounds, but general contracts should be made to cover, as far as practicable, all our rivers, boats only to be purchased or chartered for special or post service. The propriety of this is hown by the fact that much of the immense transportation of troops on this river has been done under contract at the rate of 2 mills per man per mile, and the average at not exceeding one-third of a cent per man per mile, and freight at nearly equally low rates.

Fifth. In order that the superintendent of transportation may be correctly advised on all points, and able promptly to detect and correct existing errors, I think frequent concise reprots should be made of all important contracts of all boats in service, whether purchased, chartered, or impressed, how employed, rates paid, fuel purchased and distributed or lost, and the like.

Sixth and lastly. If in the future convoys should be necessary upon the Cumberland and Tennessee, some plan or concert of action should be devised with the Navy Department by which the very extraordinary delays and enormous and apparently unnecessary expenses of last year, as detailed at length in the clear report of Captain J. H. Ferry, assistant