HDQRS. U. S. QUARTERMASTER'S DEPT.,
In the Field, Chattanooga, Tenn., Numbers 22 1/2.
December 9, 1863.
The Government transportation on the Mississippi River and its tributaries having become so important and expensive a branch of the service, it is deemed essential, for conducting it efficiently and economically, that there should be unity of action in its management.
I. To secure this an officer of the Quartermaster's Department will be assigned to the general supervision of the western river transportation. His headquarters will be at Saint Louis; but he will from time to time, as movements of importance require his attention, visit the various cities and ports upon the rivers.
II. All quartermasters having charge of river transportation on the Mississippi and its tributaries will make reports to and act according to the instructions of the quartermaster in charge of the western river transportation in all matters pertaining to that branch of the service, not, however, interfering with any reports now required by any army orders or regulations.
III. Quartermaster-General will, from time to time, detail such suitable and experienced assistant quartermasters for this specific service, at important points, as he shall think the good of the service may require.
IV. In order to furnish the necessary information by which to render the western river transportation more efficient, uniform, and economical, all quartermasters in charge of river transportation on the Mississippi and its tributaries will immediately forward to the office of the chief quartermaster of western river transportation at Saint Louis a list of all boats of every kind in Government service, under their orders or control, on the 1st of December, 1863, in accordance with the blank forms herewith. They will also furnish like information semi-monthly until further orders from the Quartermaster-General or chief quartermaster of western river transportation. They will also at the same time advise the office of such transportation as they are likely to require, also whether any changes can be made in the use of wharf or other boats whereby expense can be diminished, and of any accidents in transportation by which Government property has been lost or damaged; also of any wrecked or damaged property in their vicinity requiring attention; also of the amount paid or expended by them for and on account of Government transports, and to what boats; also the cost, quantity, and kind of fuel expended or received for steam-boat use. Though these reports may for a time occasion some trouble, yet it is believed that in a brief period such a system may be educed as will not only tend greatly to economy, but will facilitate and reduce the labor and perplexities of this important branch of the service.
V. Colonel Lewis B. Parsons, quartermaster and aide-de-camp, is assigned to duty as chief quartermaster of western river transportation. He will act in this duty subject to the orders of Brigadier General Robert Allen, senior quartermaster on the Mississippi, and to such instructions as may from time to time be issued from the Office of the Quartermaster-General or of the War Department.
M. C. MEIGS,
Quartermaster-General U. S. Army.