expeditions was in a few hands, and some of these owners were able to take advantage of the inexperience of the officers, of the necessities of the Government, and of their own practical monopoly of the means of transportation.
The high prices them paid, however, stimulated the construction of steam vessels adapted to the military service.
Committees of Congress took up and investigated the subject, and developed some of the most glaring cases, and the department, thus informed, took stringent, effective, perhaps in some cases arbitrary, though necessary, measures to produce reform.
The services of experts were enga the Navy were detailed under the law to inspect and appraise steamers offered for charter or sale to the department; and settlements of some of the most extravagant claims were made at greatly reduced rates. In some cases where the amount paid had already far exceeded the value of the vessels, and of the service they had rendered, they were taken possession of, and all further compensation was declined, the claimants being referred to Congress for such action as the true interests of justice and the public service might dictate.
A clause was introduced into all charters giving the United States the right to purchase a chartered vessel at any time during the continuance of the chartered service, upon paying a reasonable percentage upon the original valuation of the vessel and upon the cost of her maintenance. Should the chartered rates be too high, the result is that the vessel soon becomes the property of the United States.
Under this clause a large number of vessels have been purchased and are now in the service, with great saving to the Government.
The Quartermaster's Department now owns and constantly employs on the coast a fleet of 39 ocean steamers, and 45 river and bay steamers, 20 steam tug-boats, 2 barks, 2 brigs, 21 schooners, and 29 barges, with an aggregate burden of 48,729 tons, and costing $4,228,233.
The coast fleet of chartered vessels at this time consists of 74 ocean steamers, 164 river and bay steamers, 51 steam tug-boats, 8 ships, 4 barks, 7 brigs, 86 schooners, and 208 barges. Their aggregate burden is 158,694 tons, and the daily cost of the charter parties, exclusive of coal, which the department furnishes, is $56,540.16.
For further details reference is respectfully made to the tables which accompany this report.
List of vessels chartered and owned in the service of the United States October 15, 1864.
Class. No. Tonnage. Expense per day
Sea steamers.. 74 59,341 6\9 9\6 $25,982.39
River 164 42,150 19,446.12
Tug-boats.. 51 4,074 1\9 1\5 4,108.00
Ships.. 8 6,370 1,227.32
Barks.. 4 1,418 225.00
Brigs.. 7 2,107 281.63
Schooners.. 86 15,142 2,386.57
Barges.. 208 28,092 2,793.85
Total.. ......... 158,694 8\9 0\5 56,450.88
Class. No. Tonnage. Cost of vessels.
Sea steamers.. 39 23,293 9\5 2\5 $2,383,000.00
River 45 15,170 2\9 2\5 1,601,027.00
Tug-boats.. 20 4,108.00 66,742.00
Ships.. ....... 1,227.32 ...............
Barks.. 2 225.00 25,000.00
Brigs.. 2 281.63 9,750.00
Schooners.. 21 2,386.57 89,650.00
Barges.. 29 2,793.85 53,064.00
Total.. ......... 56,450.88 4,228,233.00
a Exclusive of coal, which is furnished by the Government.