markets, and a due regard to the general commercial interests of the country, have governed this department in apportioning these purchases among the several market centers of the country. New Orleans, gradually resuming a healthy commercial condition, already enables this department-and in further aid of such resumption-to obtain in that market a considerable portion of the supplies required for distribution from that point. Although the present general condition of the Southern States is not such as to afford a large amount of supplies for the troops on duty therein, still, the officers of this department are able in some parts of those States to enter into contracts for beef-cattle and slaughtered beef, as also to some extent to purchase therein other articles. The principal purchasing officers of the Subsistence Department have performed their duties with great fidelity to the interests of the country and with much mercantile ability, and also, as I am frequently assured, to the general satisfaction of the commercial men of the country with whom they have transacted the business of this department.
So far as has been practicable, subsistence stores have been obtained by advertising for and receiving sealed proposals for their delivery. During the past six months 402 such advertisements have been received and placed on file in this office.
The principal commissaries immediately responsible for the subsistence of the several armies in the field have performed the important and often difficult duties of receiving, protecting, and distributing the supplies forwarded to them with commendable efficiency and success. They have also, by great energy, been able, to a considerable extent, to subsist the troops upon the resources of the country in which the armies were operating or through which they were passing.
It is believed that during the entire was no campaign, contemplated movement, or expedition has failed on account of the inability of the Subsistence Department to meet its proper requirements. It is also believed that the troops, wherever stationed or operating, have, with rare exceptions, been supplied with rations in good and wholesome condition.
While the Subsistence Department has furnished a constant, timely, and adequate supply of subsistence for the several large armies occupying widely different fields of operations, as also for the troops at all the separate positions occupied throughout the entire country, it is due to the Quartermaster's Department that its vast labors in the transportation of these supplies be recognized as having been performed with a readiness and efficiency worthy of the highest commendation. As a single item indicating the amount fact that during the year 1863 the Quartermaster's Department shipped from the port of New York an average of 7,000 packages of subsistence stores per day for every working day of the year, and for the year 1864, 6,727 packages per day.
The sudden close of the war, and the consequent immediate muster out of a large part of the Army, unavoidably left on hand in some of the depots an excessive supply of subsistence stores. This excess has been sent to other points, where stores were required, instead of meeting such requirements by further purchases. By this course a considerable part of these supplies have been, or will be, economically disposed of. Surplus and damaged stores are in process of being disposed of by sale. A considerable quantity of hard bread, surplus or too old for issue to troops, remains to be disposed of. A sufficient quantity of this and other surplus articles have been held back from an earlier sale with the view of meeting, in an economical manner, the