military organization under your sanction, of the clerks, agents, and operatives of the Quartermaster's Department at the principal depots. Since that report was written the Quartermaster's Volunteers and Nashville, under the command of Bvt. brig. General J. L. Donaldson, have again had the opportunity to render important service. Two brigades of these troops, 4,500 strong, were assigned a position in the operations of the 15th and 16th of December, 1864, the days of the decisive battle of Nashville, and so conducted themselves as to merit and receive the approval of their commanders.
The surrender of the rebel armies having made their services no longer necessary, the several brigades and regiments have been disbanded, and most of their members have, in the general reduction of the force employed, been discharged from service. The arms and equipments have been returned to the Ordnance Department.
Colored men continued to the close of the war to be employed in connection with the train of the Quartermaster's Department as laborers at depots, as pioneers with the marching columns. In all these position they have done good service and materially contributed to that final victory which confirmed their freedom and saved our place among nations.
I cannot close this report without calling your attention to the service rendered by the officers and agents of this department. Some of these officers had at the beginning of the war the advantage of previous experience in the Quartermaster's Department during former wars, but by far the greater part of them were taken from the occupation of civil life, without military training or experience. Many of them as the war went on were promoted from the ranks of the volunteers. A very few have proved unfaithful, but the great body of them have served laboriously and zealously, successfully and honorably.
Whether in the field or at the depot, there is no intermission to the labor and the responsibility of a quartermaster. In eome the difficulties of the road cut up by the passage of troops and artillery, and to run the gauntlet of a hostile population in the rear of the armies-a population exasperated by the loss of property taken by forages. Often insufficiently guarded, upon his vigilance and energy depend the safety of his train and of the indispensable supplies which it bears. Long after the troops at rest in their camps the quartermaster is upon the road.
At the depot of an army the reception of the immense supplies of food, ammunition, and clothing, and all other equipment, all of which pass through the hands of the quartermaster, tax him night and day. He is held to strict accountability for every item of the stores which pass through his hands.
In the greater depots which have been during the war the centers at which the business of providing for the Army has been concentrated, the officers in charge have borne the responsibility of disbursing millions of dollars, collecting, auditing, and settling the vouchers issued by officers at smaller depots and in the field, and purchasing the stores to be distribution to armies through wide districts. Some of these officers have transacted business to the amount of millions monthly. From officers of every rank, from these in charge of the great centers of manufacture and purchase at the principal cites, from those to whom has been committed only the care of the property and trains of a single brigade I have received and I recognize cordial support and assistant in the business committed to this department.