HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF WEST MISSISSIPPI,
OFFICE OF THE ASSISTANT INSPECTOR-GENERAL,
New Orleans, La., January 21, 1865.
Lieut. Col. C. T. Christensen, Assistant Adjutant-General.
Sir—I have the honor to report for the information of the major-general commanding the condition of the Department of Arkansas as reported by the assistant inspector-general. In the vicinity of Little Rock Major Nelson states the camps to be in an excellent state of police and the men looking well, the troops nearly all hutted, and the building of the huts of a superior character. The prisons are reported as under good management, clean, and convenient. The hospitals are in tolerable condition. At Devall’s Bluff affairs are generally in good order, the infantry regiments doing well, drilling, studying, &c. The batteries are also improving, except Battery D, 2nd Missouri, a special report in reference to which I have made. The duties of the quartermaster, commissary, and provost-marshal are reported as well done. The Second Division, Seventh Army Corps, are garrisoning this post and Pine Bluff, and have been working hard repairing roads, building fortifications, &c. The average sick in the division is 9 3/5 per cent. The Cavalry Division is divided into four brigades. Of the First Brigade the inspector writes as follows: This brigade is under a cloud, and requires the immediate attention of a firm, vigorous, and vigilant commander to bring it out of the difficulties which envelop it, and save the available portion from becoming a positive injury to the service. The affairs of the 13th Illinois Cavalry are in the utmost confusion. Serious charges have been made against every field officer in the regiment whose official conduct has been under investigation. The quartermaster has been found guilty of selling Government property and appropriating the proceeds; the company kitchens of several squadrons were filthy, the rations squandered; the men complained of the smallness of the ration, while officers were found messing with them; arms and equipments were in a dirty and disorderly condition; discipline bad; personal cleanliness, dirty. The following-named officers mess with enlisted men, in defiance of orders from brigade headquarters to the contrary: Capt. E. Brown, 13th Illinois Cavalry; Lieut. N. E. Orton, Lieut. W. E. Sparrow, Lieut. W. B. Barton, Lieut. T. L. Bailey. The 7th Missouri Cavalry is in bad condition on account of lack of officers; with 296 enlisted men there were but three officers for duty. The detachments of the 5th Kansas are in a neglected, inefficient state. The detachment of the 1st Indiana Cavalry was in very poor condition. The commanding officer, Capt. James A. Pine, reports that the men receive only one-quarter rations of rice, beans, or hominy, and that the hard bread is wormy. Captain Pine is reported as inefficient and incompetent, and the irregularities in the command are mainly to be charged to his neglect of duty. This brigade numbers 1,000 men present for duty, 173 of whom are on extra duty. There are only 396 serviceable horses. The Second Cavalry Brigade, commanded by General Bussey, is composed of consolidated and broken regiments. The 1st Missouri is without a field officer. It needs a thorough efficient officer in command; its affairs run too loosely entirely. The 4th Arkansas Cavalry is steadily improving. The 1st Iowa Cavalry is without its complement of officers. One company has been commanded by a private, there not being even a non-commissioned officer present. The duties of Captain Jenks, commanding, are very laborious. The stables are poorly policed. The arms of the 3rd Missouri are not in as good condition as they should be, and the men are dirty. The 3rd U.S. Cavalry is in good condition.
The Third Cavalry Brigade is under the command of Colonel Geiger, at Brownsville. The 8th Missouri and 10th Illinois are reported in fine condition. The 9th Iowa is reported in tolerable condition, but the men look dirty, and the officers allow too much familiarity with the enlisted men. In enforcing discipline the smaller offenses are tried by a field officers’ court, but heavier crimes have gone unpunished from the difficulty in getting the offenders before a court-martial. In this regiment offenders have escaped punishment who were charged with desertion, sleeping on post, theft, and mutinous conduct. Courts are now being organized. The 11th Missouri Cavalry is reported in tolerable condition. They complain bitterly of their arms (the Merrill carbine), and state Merrill’s cartridge-box to be a nuisance that the service should be rid of. They are now being armed with the Sharps carbines. The Fourth Brigade is much scattered. The 3rd Michigan, at Brownsville Station, stands very well in everything pertaining to its general police, but its discipline and steadiness in the field hardly stand as high as it does in other respects. The 9th Kansas, from the want of thorough discipline, is in the field more like a band of independent rangers than a compact body of soldiers. In regard to military bearing, instruction, drill, care of horses, police, and personal cleanliness it is far below the standard of good soldiers. The 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry is reported generally in good condition. The 3rd Arkansas Cavalry is on outpost duty at Lewisburg. Since it has been there, in different skirmishes, the regiment has killed about 500 of the enemy. They have suffered much from the want of forage. The records of my office will afford particulars in reference to any regiment or supply department, works of defense, &c., in the Department of Arkansas except the District of the Frontier, which is now being evacuated.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN M. WILSON,
Lieutenant-Colonel and Assistant Inspector-General.