3. In charging to the department the expense of issuing the rations and the wastage which occurred and in unnecessarily keeping on hand large quantities of provisions at the risk of the Government.
As Captain Lazelle was at Camp Chase but a short time his own testimony in support of the charge of habitual absence without leave cannot be regarded as entitled to much more weight than belongs to the expression of an opinion formed from rumor or from the statements of others. The same remark may be made in reference to the letter of Colonel Allison, who in speaking of Captain Walker says, "He is absent three-fourths of the time. He has never asked or obtained my authority for his absence. " It is ascertained that Colonel Allison who certifies so emphatically was in command at Camp Chase but for three or four weeks. Against these statements, based upon such limited opportunities for acquiring correct information on the point, we have the positive averment of W. J. Holmes that for eight months preceding the 19th of November, 1862, he had acted as military secretary of the post and had as such written leaves for Captain Walker by order as well of Colonel Moody as of Colonel Allison during their administrations. He adds: "I have no recollection of the captain ever being absent without leave or overstaying his leave of absence. " John W. Sayre, Captain Walker's clerk through the entire time of his service, swears that to his knowledge the captain was never absent except on leave and that he never neglected his duties. This charge of absence without leave is fully refuted by various other persons of unquestionable credibility. The proof on the point is entirely satisfactory and removes all doubt as to the groundlessness of the imputation. Captain Lazelle seems to have based his report on a very cursory and superficial examination. Several of the witnesses state that he came "with kid gloves" and did not cut or handle anything but condemned everything on sight alone. It is but charitable to infer from the mistakes he made that he accepted as true complaints and hearsay which reached him without giving himself the trouble of scrutinizing them and ascertaining whether they were true or false. For example he states that "rock salt" alone was furnished by Captain Walker to the troops, whereas the proof is ample that not a pound of rock was ever issued to them. Again he says he was told that the "necks" of the beef had been habitually issued before his arrival at the post, and that he learned from one of the contractors that the shanks "to just below the knee" were also issued, whereas it is shown and by witness oath that neither shanks nor necks had ever been issued. His allegations as to the inferiority of the provisions and the complaints made of them are completely swept away be a mass of testimony, the greater part of it given under oath, which establishes that the beef was first quality and the flour extra super fine and the provisions such as were used by the citizens of Columbus at their own tables; that they were of good quality and that the rations were as good as are generally served and better than those frequently accepted by the Government.
Little or no complaint at all was heard. On these points the testimony comes from men of high character and occupying high official positions, many of whom from their immediate connection with the service had abundant opportunities of knowing personally the truth of the statements they have made. Brigadier-General Garfield passed three months at the post with his regiment, and he says: "My own regiment was well served, nor did I hear of any complaints from others. "