Page 3739

3739 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

from shortage of clothing and were without

adequate hospital facilities, and that many

of the deaths from illness could have been

avoided.

Next day, Surgeon General Gorgas,

before the Senate Committee on Military

Affairs, confirmed some of Chamberlain's

charges regarding inadequate hospital

equipment. A few days later. Senator

Hitchcock of Nebraska, like Chamberlain,

a Democrat, severely attacked the administration for short-sightedness and failure

to coordinate the nation's war activities.

In part he said:

"Nine months after we entered the war

and three months after our men were

gathered in cantonments we found in

the dead of winter tens of thousands of

men without overcoats, tens of thousands

lacking woolen breeches, tens of thousands

without woolen blouses, and other serious

shortages. We found most of the machinegun companies unable to drill two months

after they were formed because they had

no machine guns. Even in December

we found 1,200 still kept in storage for

some foolish and inexplicable reasons,

while each camp had only been supplied

with eighty machine guns.

"We found hundreds of thousands of

men drilling with wooden sticks for weeks

and months because of mistakes and delays

in ordering rifles last spring. We found

men sent to France without opportunity

for rifle or machine-gun practice. We

found a distressing amount of sickness

in most camps and an unnecessary mortality, due to lack of clothing and to overcrowding. The overcrowding we found

due to a failure to provide an adequate

number of tents. We found camp hospitals without drainage, plumbing, or heat,

and sick men without nurses.

"We found that we must depend on

overworked and overstrained France for

machine guns for ground use until nearly

the end of this year, and that not over

one-tenth of the new Browning machine

guns on which we are to rely can be

delivered before August. We found that

the first heavy artillery of American

make cannot be received till July, and

not much before 1919 can we expect

to use in France American heavy artillery

in any great quantity. What we get

before this fall we must buy from England.

"We found that we are only now,

nine months after entering the war, just

beginning work on two great powder plants,

to. cost $60,000,000, although it was

evident last summer that we must have

a million pounds a day more powder

than America can now manufacture. We

cannot get powder from these plants before

next August. .

"We found that, though the Medical

Department asked for hospital ships last

July, they have not yet been ordered,

though sick and wounded men are now

already beginning to come home, and it

will take three months to equip the ships."

To remedy the existing situation Senator

Chamberlain brought forward two bills,

one to create a new Department of Munitions and another to establish a War Cabinet

to coordinate and direct our war activities.

There were some Democrats besides Senator

Chamberlain, for example, Senator Hitchcock of Nebraska, who favored the measure

and joined with the Republicans in supporting it. But the President and Secretary of War Baker considered it an effort

to take the direction of affairs out of their

hands and bitterly opposed it. However,

the President finally recognized that something must be done and appointed Edward

R. Stettinius, a capable business man, as

Surveyor General of Army Purchases, and

procured the introduction of an Administration Bill for re-organizing war activities.

This measure, which was known as the

Overman Bill, was passed in the following May. Upon the whole it must be

said that the agitation had been worth

while and had galvanized the Government into action.

The aeroplane situation was one of the

subjects of deepest concern among those

anxious to win the war. In July, 1917,

the Government had unfolded an ambitious

plan for the building of a fleet of 22,000

aeroplanes. The proposal appealed to the

imagination of the country and writers

pictured vast fleets of American planes