Lower Mississippi, many of them chartered or taken when rates were 25 or 50 per cent. higher than they now are, and the places of which could readily be supplied at great reduction of prices, and chartered with the right to keep a discharge on ten days" notice at any time, provided any one here had the authority to act.
I have in the last month been offered boats at from $ 40 to $ 60 per day that I could not have chartered three months ago at less than $ 70 to $ 80 per day. This is the season to engage boats cheapest, but asmade except to W knows officially or has any power to act, and so this unnecessary expenditure must continue.
There are other minor changes as experience and observation should suggest that might no doubt be advantageously made, but I think these I have noted would make a great improvement, and that that improvement, producing unity of action, prompt responsibility, and constant oversight, cannot be attained in a country so vast, with so great a number of inferior officers reporting only as at present. In illustration of the points I have named I might give you many examples occurring in the last two years, but I will content myself with one in each branch of transportation:
A regiment of cavalry was ordered from Ohio to Fort Leavenworth in the winter of 1861-"62. A contract was made by an assistant quartermaster in Ohio. Being responsible to no officer in Saint Louis, or having no one there to consult, the contract was made for the entire distance from one department through another. Accidentally learning of such a movement, and in order to facilitate it, an officer here received bids, but found when the troops came that a through contract was already made at prices largely above those he had agreed upon and without reference to the fact that the Hannibal and Saint Joseph Railroad was a land- grant road and subject to a large reduction of rates. By this single movement several thousand dollars were lost unnecessarily.
Again, some two weeks since, happening at Cincinnati, I was shown a confidential dispatch from General Burnside to the president of a railroad company requesting immediate transportation to Cairo by rail for the Ninth Army Corps. Supposing them to be en route to Major-General Grant, near Vicksburg, and that time was important, I requested the assistant adjutant-general to advise General Burnside of my presence and to inquire if he had made any arrangements for transportation at Cairo, or if I could in any way render him assistance. I soon received a reply directly from the general stating he had telegraphed the day before to Louisville, but had received no answer, and requesting my assistance in procuring transports promptly. I at once telegraphed to Saint Louis, came on myself the same night, and the next evening boats began to leave for Cairo and were there, so that as the troops arrived by rail they went on board without an hours" detention and at once passed down the river. The following day I received a dispatch from Louisville (400 miles from Cairo) stating that twelve boats were about leaving to move this army, all but four of which were, however, soon after recalled, and none of which reached Cairo till after the entire army had departed south, and one of them with a battery on board was at the latest advices still aground and not able to get out at all. It is over 400 miles from Louisville to Cairo and 200 miles from Saint Louis. We have nearly always water for very large boats to go to Cairo, and when the order was given the Ohio was low while the Mississippi was at a fair stage. We loaded most of these boats