be crippled by the difficulty, slowness, and insufficiently of the present means of transportation and communication.
It is, in a military sense, of the utmost importance that the pacific Railroad should be pressed vigorously to the earliest possible completion.
With a blockaded coast, or even should our fleet be so powerful as to prevent any actual blockade, it would be extremely difficult and expensive to maintain and supply an army in those distant territories, with communication only by sea, under convoy of armed vessels, or by the slow march of wagon trains from Independence to San Francisco.
Colonel A. J. Perry, now chief of the division of clothing and equipage of this office, has been throughout the fiscal year in charge of the duties now assigned by law to this division. To him is justly due much of the credit for the system, order, regularity, and certainly with which the clothing and equipage of the Army has been provided.
All returns and reports from the various purchasing and manufacturing depots of the supplies, and all reports and returns of officers who receive and distribute or become in any way responsible for them before their final issue to the troops in the field, are sent to the branch of the office under his supervision, and there examined and finally reported to the Treasury Department for settlement.
The other officers on duty in this offiartermaster-General Colonel Charles Thomas and the officers and charge of the several branches of the office, have been constant and sedulous in their attention to the laborious and responsible duties imposed on them - duties which never cease, and which, as the war proceeds and expands, and the Army grows, constantly increase.
The examination, record, and preservation of the contracts, reports returns of the expenditures of the department; the assignment of officer to posts suited to their respective capacities and experience; the examination of the intricate questions involved in the settlement of disputed accounts and claims arising either under contract or purchase, or from the necessary forcible seizure and appropriation of property by armies in the field; the issue of the instructions necessary to guide the officers of depots, departments, and of separate commands, the direction of the provision and transportation of needed supplies to the different and distant seats of active war - all these have their direction and control at this office, and fully occupy its officers.
Boards have been organized under the law requiring officers of this department to be examined, and these boards will doubtless enable the President to sift of the service the incompetent and efficient and unworthy, of whom, in so large a body of officers, some must be found.
The appropriations for the service of the Quartermaster's Department since the outbreak of the rebellion have amounted, as shown by table transmitted with this report, to the sum of $938,019,471.95.
With an Army of nearly a million of men in the service, the expenditures must continue to be large, and there can be no doubt that great as have been these expenses, true economy requires the most ample provisions of all necessary supplies to soldiers, who are the bone and sinew,the blood, the wealth, and the life of the Nation.
That an army is wasteful is certain, but it is more wasteful to allow a soldier to sicken and die for want of the blanket or knapsack, which he has thoughtlessly thrown away in the heat of the march or the