legislation seeking to distribute public expenditures instead of concentrating them at a few points, where they can be most effectively and economically applied. It would, in my opinion, be a measure of economy in the construction and preparation of ordnance supplies, as well as one calculated to improve their quality, to confine constructions to four arsenals at most-one at the North, one at the West, one at the South, and one on the Pacific Coast. There are a few of the other arsenals which, from their locations, are no longer useful for military purposes, and there should be sold and the proceeds applied to enlarging the means of fabrication at the four principal arsenals. The other arsenals, which may be conveniently situated for the distribution of supplies form them, should be retained simply as store-houses or depositories, in charge of military store-keepers, or perhaps better, of veteran and worthy sergeants, with a hired or enlisted force only sufficient to keep in order the articles deposited at each. The residue of that force necessary to carry on the operations of the department and all the officers not required for detached service with troops should be concentrated at the arsenals of construction. These are measures the execution of which, in their details, must be left to executive discretion. Legislation can properly confer only the general power to sell and apply the proceeds as above indicated, and to classify and use the other arsenals-four for construction and the remainder for depositories. They are measures which cannot be expected to be carried into effect immediately, but, to be properly executed, must be done gradually. Their beneficial effects, both economically and in other respects, I regard as certain in the end if systematically and uninterruptedly pursued, although they may be gradual in attainment. Concentration, before recommended for the operations of the Ordnance Department, applies also as a measure of economy, but in a far higher degree to the stations of troops. A great source of our military expense lies in the vat number of posts or station among which our troops are scattered. These posts should be as few as possible for permanent occupation, and the service of protecting our exposed Territories should be performed by detachments sent out from and turning to the fixed stations. Such a plan will diminish the now necessarily very large expenses of transportation, as well as many others incident to a multiplicity of small posts, while it is believed confidently that it will rather promote than damage the efficiency of the public service. This idea is not claimed as original. It has been before advanced, and with more elaboration and detail than I have given it. But, as it has not yet been carried into effect, nor I believer fairly and fully tried, I deem it not useless to put it fourth again. the measure it suggests does not, in my opinion, require legislation to carry it into effect, and in so far the suggestion may be considered out of place in answer to a call from a committee of a branch of the Legislature; but it is, I conceive, a proper and legitimate answer to a call for views and opinions on a reduction of expresses in the military department of the Government, even if it tends only to show that legislation is not necessary for all reformations in this respect, and that much may be effected by, if left to, executive management.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Captain of Ordn