The regimental organization, without legally defined duties, affords every facility for the misapplication of the troops and their conversion practically into cavalry and infantry. The condition of the arm at the commencement of the Mexican war and of this rebellion affords evidence that the bulk of our artillery, as such, has been habitually inefficient, and that there is no remedy under the present system.
At Vera Cruy the four regiments which had been in service nominally as artillery more than a quarter of a century were, with the exception of a few field batteries, wholly uninstructed in their duties, and, so far from being able to construct their own batteries and magazines, the men received in the trenches and under a heavy cannonade from the enemy their first lesson in artillery duties, viz, how to load siege guns and mortars.
This ought to have been sufficient warning, yet within the last two years the artillery has been employed at extreme frontier stations on other than their appropriate service under a flimsy pretext of learning artillery duties there. This arrangement, the prominent feature of what is now called the treasonable dispersion of the Army by the lasted Secretary of War, was instigated and brought about by an Army officer, his confidential adviser, against the earnest and repeated remonstrances of the General-in-Chief and other officers. The present unprepared condition of the regular field artillery of this Army is the legitimate result of this act.
Great evils might probably have been spared the country had its artillery been under the direction of a proper chief and thus secured against the interference of vagrant advisers ignorant of its duties and wants. To place it under such a chief and insure he unity of its administration the regimental organization should be abandoned and the batteries consolidated into one corps. Artillery acts by batteries as units, not by battalions, and from the nature of their duties these cannot be and need not be connected by such unchangeable relations as must exist between the companies of an infantry regiment or battalion. Their relations to each other are rather those of regiments in a brigade when a number of batteries are assembled under a common commander; a staff is required for their management and supplies. The commissioned and non-commissioned staff, equal to that of the regiments, should, therefore, be retained in the corps for distribution to the command needing them.
To promote efficiency and economy all supplies and stores pertaining to batteries should be taken up and accounted for on returns rendered to the chief of artillery. This would facilitate the establishment of proper supply tables, secure to the artillery whatever is essential to its efficiency, enable accounts to be kept with each battery, and stop extravagant and unnecessary expenditures and waste. At present the batteries scramble for what they can get, and the supplies depend more upon the whims and caprices of officers of other arms than upon the knowledge and experience of their own. This leads to great waster without securing efficiency. To aid the chief in his duties a special supervision is required over the troops and armaments. Inspectors of artillery should, therefore, make frequent examinations of the condition of the personnel and material. Their powers should be large and their rank such as to give full effect to their powers. Their functions being special, officers should be carefully selected for the purpose and when found qualified continued on the duty.
The troops should be organized strictly with a view to artillery duties and means should be adopted to secure to the officers and men advantages equal to those offered by the other branches of service and