War of the Rebellion: Serial 122 Page 0728 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records


December 5, 1861.


U. S. Senate:

SIR: You did me the honor to ask my views as to the best mode of lessening the enormous expenses of our army. I approach the subject with great diffidence, as my opinions will no doubt come in conflict with wiser and better men. I shall give my views, however, candidly, and you can from you own experience and observation give them the consideration they deserve.

First. The bands (regimental) are, in my opinion, far more ornamental than useful, and should be abolished. This would be a saving af about $5,000,000.

Second. I think the number of volunteer cavalry regiments quite too large; they are vastly more expensive and less serviceable, as our troops are located, than infantry.

Third. By the fifth section of the act of July 22, volunteer regiments are to be organized as regiments of the same arm of service in the Regular Army, and yet in the same section it is provided that company officers of cavalry shall receive 40 cents per day for use and risk of horse. I can see no just ground for this allowance, and I think that proviso should be repealed. This would save between $2,000,000 and $3,000,000.

Congress, I think, made a mistake in increasing the pay of privates $2 per month. Their former pay was far greater then in any service in the world, and would in my opinion have been perfectly satisfactory. They are now placed above the musicians and receive the same pay as corporals. This increases the expense of the Army between $10,000,000 and $15,000,000. The policy of repealing this law I leave to the judgement of Congress. The $100 bounty allowed by law will cost about $70,000,000, but that, like the increased pay, it may be urged, forms part of the contract under which they came into service.

Chaplains: I regret to say that very many holding this position are utterly unworthy, and while I would not deprive our regiments of the services of a minister of the gospel, I think none should be appointed who did not come recotical authority with which he is connected. It is said one regiment employs a French cook, and musters him as chaplain to meet the expense. I cannot vouch for the truth of this rumor, but I do know that some are utterly unworthy their position.

Forage: This is a most embarrassing subject. It is absolutely necessary that field and staff officers should be mounted, and I am not prepared to say that the number of horses allowed is too great; yet very many do not keep that number, and yet with few exceptions all forage officers claim and receive pay for the full number, notwithstanding the strong certificate they are compelled to sign. Even chaplains, from whom we should expect better things, do not hesitate to draw pay for three horses, when it is known they keep but one. This grows out of a persistent belief that forage is an emolument, and the certificate is ignored altogether. But they go still further-large numbers of forage officers draw forage in kind from the quartermaster and commutation from the paymaster. Something should be done to check the demoralizing influence of this course as well as to save the Government from serious loss. I would recommend that a law be passed authorizing all forage officers to draw forage in kind for the number of horses actually kept in service by them, and no commutation be allowed. This would