term expires, except such as are absolutely required, which in my judgment can be reduced for the transportation between Perryville and Annapolis to two steamers for passengers and three good propellers. Some of the charter party are at enormous prices.
I shall go to New York to-morrow night if necessary, to discharge all vessels engaged by parties there that can be dispensed with. I hear of parties who have gone to Washington to sell their vessels. I assure you with the utmost confidence that for transportation purposes there is no occasion for you to be in haste about buying anything. Anything that is required for this purpose can be bought or chartered without any difficulty and at fair prices.
As to gun-boats or steamers for blockading purposes, the case may be different. I inclose a description* of a new propeller, La Union, which I should think would be about what is wanted for blockading small ports. She is entirely new, the price about $25,000, which, I suppose, means something less. I will have an exact description of another smaller propeller to-morrow, also entirely new. I find that I can have a large number built of any description of gun-boats in sixty days. Unless the emergency is great, do not buy old ones, which will be constantly out of order. I will send plans and bids in a day or two from experienced and honest contractors.
I am most anxious to protect you from imposition, and if you will refer the parties who have vessels for sale or charter to me the Government interests shall be protected.
Yours, very respectfully,
PHILADELPHIA, May 14, 1861.
Hon. SIMON CAMERON:
MY DEAR SIR: The great discomforts of the troops which I have witnessed in Washington [and you will remember our visit to a Pennsylvania regiment at the Inauguration ball room] has caused me much reflection as to how it could be properly remedied. Here, too, we have constant and well-founded complaints about the suffering and almost starvation of the troops. Many of them are literally beggars. At Harrisburg the soldiers, I hear, have been at times treated more like brutes than men, and this, too, when an abundance of army rations are at command. The great difficulty seems to be in distributing and serving the food properly. We all know that the efficiency of an army depends on their health; we know equally well that their health cannot be preserved without proper regard to their food. In a conversation on this subject with my friend, A. S. Devin, esq., who informs me that he has taken an active part in providing barracks and food for the troops at Elmira, I have been so much impressed with the great advantages of that system over any that I have witnessed, I have prevailed upon him to go to Washington to see you and to give you the full details of it, which he can do so much better than I can in a letter. If this system strikes you as favorably as it does me, Mr. Devin will give you all information as to the cost of it in full detail, and if desired, will introduce you to parties who will enter into a contract to carry the proposed plan of so greatly adding to the comfort of the men by a proper system into effect, and who will execute it in strict good faith, and, as I believe, all things considered, with economy to the Government. I want you