the practical operations of this branch of the department will be greatly improved both in regard to efficiency and economy.
In regard to transportation by rail and water, a change can be made with advantage to the service. I would respectfully recommend that a transportation and telegraphic bureau be organized by the Secretary of War, the chief of which shall be under his immediate direction, whose duties shall be to arrange for all transportation by rail and water connected with the armies of the Government; also provide for the construction or extension of such railroads or telegraphs as the wants of the military departments may require, and operate the same in such manner as may be necessary.
e bureau should be authorized to select and appoint suitable men, subject to the approval of the Secretary of War, to arrange and contract for transportation on the best terms that can be procured for the Government, and perform such other duties in connection with the operation of railroads and teelgraphs owned or operated by the Government as may be assigned them.
In each State where general rendezvous are or may be established one or more officers, as the wants of the service may require, should be stationed, whose duty it should be to contract and settle for all the local transportation of the State; procure transportation from the rendezvous to the armies in the field, so far as the same may be transported by rail or water. The duties of these officers shall also embrace the transportation of all freights belonging to the Government. Contracts for periods of three or six months should be made for general transportation by advertising for proposals, awarding the transportation to the lowest bidder in all cases where time and facilities are equal. All general contracts to be submitted for approval of the chief of bureau and not be binding upon the Government until so approved.
In the several military departments, where railways and telegraphs are used, a transportation officer should be assigned on the staff of the general officer commanding the department, whose duty it shall be to supervise and manage the transportation and telegraphic business of the department in such manner as he may be directed from time to time by the chief of bureau. All persons appointed by him shall be subject to the approval of the chief of the bureau.
In order to relieve the Quartermaster-General's Department of the labor and responsibility of all matters pertaining to transportation by rail and water and telegraphic operations, appropriations should be provided for this purpose, subject to the control of the chief of the bureau of transportation, with the approval of the Secretary of War.
With these arrangements properly systematized much good may be effected.
Before closing this report I beg leave to recommend--
First. That all brigade, regimental, and post commissaries be subjected to an examination similar to that proposed for officers of the Quartermaster's Department.
Second. That all horses, harness, horse equipments, and everything pertaining thereto that may be needed for the army, whether for infantry, artillery, or cavalry, shall be procured by the Quartermaster's Department. At present a portion of these supplies are purchased by the Ordnance Department.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
THOMAS A. SCOTT,
Assistant Secretary of War.