The only danger would be that under the stimulus of gain the contractors might compete with each other and so run up prices. This, however, was partly prevented by the practical difficulties of the undertaking, such as the impossibility of obtaining cooperate for unusually large quantities of lard and the risk of preserving offal. It was further endeavored to be provided against by districting the country, as far as an imperfect knowledge of its agriculture would permit, assigning each contractor to certain limits. But even if such competition has existed, its effect has certainly been to secure more bacon to the Government and at lower prices than the opposite system could possibly have brought; and the main object was to secure a full supply, cost, however important, being secondary to that. That object is accomplished. The number secured is about 250,000 head of unusually large hogs, including some 20,000 which have been obtained from Kentucky within the Federal lines by Government agents, acting under the instructions of this department, at much risk and with occasional losses to those undertaking it. The above number is increased by others obtained at other points and mostly on similar terms, as may be seen by reference to the abstract of purchases of hogs and beeves herewith transmitted.
At Thoroughfare, in the rear of Manassas Junction, a packing establishment has been put in operation on Government account and the same has been done in Richmond, and at each of those points every product is saved to the Government, because it either finds ready sale or prompt and grateful consumption by the Army. The management of this important work has been intrusted to agents under official bonds, or under contracts secured by bonds. To these the money has been advanced as needed, when it could be obtained from the Treasury, and while no greater advance has been made than necessary no greater risk has been incurred than the usual confidence reposed in officers of the Army disbursing large sums of money. It is due to the patriotism of these agents to say that in several cases when funds were scarce they have freely advanced both their funds and credit to their respective trusts. Thus Wilson & Johnson and Wilson & Armstrong have advanced at various time about $520,000, J. H. Craigmiles and J. F. Cummings, respectively, $878,878 and #2,204,977, and all these have strained their credit to its utmost tension to ease the strain upon the Treasury; others have assumed obligations of the same character. These agents were severally instructed to set the price, first at 6, subsequently at 8 cent per pound, and if these prices would not secure the hogs, then to give such as would do it, but in no instance to go higher than was absolutely necessary. Under these circumstances prices have ranged form 6 1/2 to 11 1/2 cents, the latter in a few cases, and of late they have receded from these figures. These prices have been high, but the rate of rise is not greater than in other kinds of produce of prime necessity and scant supply, and not as great if the greater scarcity be considered. They could not have been kept lower except by a military order prohibiting exportation. Such an order was applied for, but refused, to the great enhancement of prices. In other cases it became necessary to get military authocts against numerous parties to whom higher prices had been conceded on contracts for lower rates, but who were only emboldened by such concessions to make still higher and more dishonest demands. The compensation of these agents has been in kind-as when they assumed the character of agent and contractor-or in money alone, which has occurred in two cases, and in both these the rate is $500 per