War of the Rebellion: Serial 127 Page 0760 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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Richmond, November 30, 1861.


SIR: I submit the following suggestions in relation to the legislation that experience seems to have proven to be necessary for the better administration of this Department:

First. A number of naval officers of ability and experience have been detailed for artillery service and the command of forts and batteries. Their position and rank in the naval service render it eminently proper that they should have chief command in many instances where they are outranked by volunteer officers not competent for such command. I think it would be of great advantage to the service that the Executive should be allowed to confer temporary Army rank on such officers, to last only while engaged in service with troops in batteries or in the field, and not to affect their position in the Navy.

Second. The law now allows a number of assistant quartermasters and commissaries not exceeding one for each regiment, and of brigade quartermasters and commissaries not exceeding one for each regiment, and of brigade quartermasters and commissaries not exceeding one for each brigade. No provision is made for these staff officers for posts, hospitals, &c., nor for general depots. The expansion of the operations of the Army and the field over which they are conducted have rendered necessary a large number of posts and depots, while the difficulties in railroad transportation frequently require details of such officers to take care of an hasten the forwarding of Government property in transit.

Power ought to be granted to increase the number of these officers so as to provide for posts, depots, special duty on railroads, and similar service. It hy to attempt a remedy for the present deficiency of the staff by assigning to brigades only one officer, either quartermaster of commissary, to perform the duties of both offices, but this remedy has proved insufficient and general complaint is made of the inadequacy of such service in the field. It must be remembered in this connection that there are no paymasters in the service so that the duties of quartermasters are much more onerous than under the system formerly established.

Third. The different States which have joined the Confederacy were provided with distinct military organizations, which have been transferred to the Confederate States. The officers appointed by the several States have usually been transferred with the troops, including such staff officers as, under the provisions of the law, are appointed by the President, with the advice of Congress. Many of these officers, ignorant of the provisions of a new and complicated system, have continued with their respective regiments, faithfully performing the duties of surgeons, quartermasters, commissaries, and chaplains for months after the transfer, and have only been made aware of the necessity of having their appointments renewed by Confederate authority when refused pay for valuable and faithful service. Whenever such officers have been reappointed and have thus received indisputable testimonials of their fitness for office and of the value of their services, justice seems to require that their rank and pay should both commence at the date when their services began. I have not felt authorized to allow any of the numerous claims that have been pressed on the Department, but have deemed it a duty to the officers to promise that their demand should be brought to the attention of Congress.

Fourth. Some regiments have already been disbanded at the expiration of their term of service. Legislation is necessary to fix a rule