Purchasing agents. -To protect the department against the fluctuations and combinations of trade, which are considered legitimate and generally used against the Government where it enters the market as an open purchaser, the Commissary-General should have power, with the approval of the Secretary of War, to select agents from able and practical business men to make purchases at distant points, and a proper discretion allowed them, without referring to the department for confirmation.
Rations and cooks. -The ration, as restricted by the Regulations, is in many respects unsuited to the habit of our volunteer force. Rice and corn-meal, hominy, peas, tea, milk, molasses, and vegetables (particularly potatoes and onions), should be distributed whenever they can be reasonably obtained, and substituted, by a scale to be prepared by the commissary, for the ordinary ration. Flour should only be given in cases of necessity, or where ovens are used by the company or regiments. Bakeries should be established for hard bread at places convenient to the different army corps. Ovens should be erected in every regiment and loaves of bread distributed, so as to avoid the unwholesome mass which constitutes the ordinary specimen of cooking by Southern soldiers. Cooks should be hired or enlisted, at least two to each company, so that well-cooked, wholesome meals may be regularly served, and the cooking inspected at each meal under the direction of the officer of the day. To insure small comforts, the committee recommend that 2 or 3 cents per day be allowed each volunteer, to be disbursed by the captain. That the ration of coffee and sugar be increased to ten pounds of coffee and fifteen pounds of sugar for 100 men. That the surplus rations be under the charge of one of the sergeants, whose duty it shall be to sell them and purchase vegetables and other food not supplied by the Government, for the benefit of the company.
Hospital rations. -The regulations provide that the rations not consumed in the hospitals shall be commuted in money and constitute a hospital fund, from which articles for the sick may be obtained. Under this regulation no money has been furnished the regimental commissaries, and the sick are unprovided for, or forced to use the ordinary ration of beef, bacon, and coffee. This neglect calls for an immediate remedy.
Sutlers. -The comfort of the volunteer would be consulted by a definite number of sutlers, judiciously selected, properly restricted, and a tariff of prices with moderate profits adopted. Much information has been obtained by the committee from the Commissary Department, to be submitted to Congress, but the answer of the Commissary-General to the resolution of Congress including all that is important, and in more elaborate form, the committee beg leave to refer to that communication for the routine of purchase, &c.
In relation to the Medical Department, in its organization and administration, your committee report that there is, in the laws regulating that department, no want of power for its efficiency, and, except in a few particulars, no necessary for a change in the regulations which control it.
The authority of the Surgeon-General is ample in the direction of he administration of his department, and, under ordinary circumstances, the medical staff is, perhaps, sufficiently numerous. But, in visiting the camps and hospitals, your committee were deeply impressed with the inadequacy of the preparations and provisions for the comfort of the sick soldiers, as well as the preparations and provisions for the comfort of the sick soldiers, as well as the obvious causes for the unusual amount of disease prevailing amongst the troops. Much is to be ascribed to the nature of the service and the persons who compose the Army. The volunteers when at home were not generally accustomed to care for themselves, usually living in families who provided for their comfort and nursed them in sickness, unused to exposure, and entirely unaccustomed to the preparation of their food. When in addition to this it is considered that the summer was unusually rainy, and that a very large proportion of the men contracted the measles in the camps, it could not be otherwise than that there should be great suffering and great mortality. It is the peculiar characteristic of measles that the system is left liable to the invasion of the most formidable diseases, upon exposure a short time after undergoing an attack. Fever, pneumonia and diarrhoea, the scourges of camps and armies, follow in the wake of measles where the convalescents are exposed to cold and wet; and when to this we add unsuitable diet, badly-ventilated tents and hospitals, there can be no surprise at the number of sick in the Army, as well as the great suffering and distress.
Your committee found in some regiments but one surgeon or assistant surgeon, sometimes a private detailed from the ranks, who happens to be a physician, to