The supplies of subsistence stores for the Army have been mostly procured in the markets of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Cincinnati, Louisville, Chicago, and Saint Louis, and forwarded from these points to the principal depots for the several armies in the field, whence they have been distributed to minor, less permanent, or more advanced depots, according to the varying wants and positions of the troops. Subsistence stores to a limited extent have also been purchased at many other points when required for local issues.
Fresh beef has been for the most part supplied to the troops in the field by furnishing beef-cattle purchased under contract; receiving them from the contractors at convenient points of delivery, and thence driving them to and with the armies in such numbers as has been required by the proper authority. Troops not in the field, and so stationed as to render it practicable, have been supplied with fresh beef at a stipulated price per pound, under properly executed contracts.
The supplies purchased by this department have in great part been procured by advertising for bids and accepting the lowest that offered the proper articles. Of those component parts of the ration which are staple commodities of domestic production, and of which there are usually large quantities in most of the great markets of the country, from which the public wants are readily met, it has not been deemed necessary to accumulate and keep on hand very large quantities; but as these articles are mostly of a perishable nature, the course adopted, so far as practicable, has been to enter the markets monthly for the stores required to be forwarded to the troops. By this course a very small proportion of the provisions purchased for the Army become damaged by age, and the troops are subsisted upon newly purchased and sound stores.
Subsistence stores being, in the language of commerce, "cash articles," the proper officers of the Government have appreciated the necessity the Subsistence Department is under of making early payment for its purchases, and accordingly have generally enabled the purchasing officers to pay their bills with great promptness. The smooth working of the affairs of this department during the past year has been largely owing to this.
In obtaining the large amount of subsistence stores required for the Army, the effort has been made to procure them in such manner as not greatly to disturb the markets of the country and to avoid subjecting contractors to heavy losses or great hazard. This has been effected by making contracts of short duration and by falling into the ordinary commercial usages of traderom as possible.
The fact that the market for the past year has not been left entirely to the ordinary and healthful laws of trade, but has been occasionally greatly disturbed by adventurers and speculative dealers, and in some instances by attempts more or less successful on the part of individuals or associated houses to monopolize and thus control the prices of particular articles, has resulted in enhancing the price of some commodities much beyond what would otherwise have governed. This has at times given the purchasing officers much difficulty in obtaining the requisite supplies at satisfactory rates.
It is believed that at nearly all times and at every point the troops have been supplied with an abundance of good and wholesome food, and that if in the movements of our armies a temporary want has