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46 To this also may be ascribed the apathy, CHAF. VL inattention, and neglect of duty, which pervade 1778. all ranks ; and which will necessarily continue and increase, while an officer, instead of gaining any thing, is impoverished by his commission, and conceives he is conferring, not receiving a favour, in holding it. There can be no sufficient tie on men possessing such sentiments. Nor can any method be adopted to oblige those to a punctual discharge of duty, who are indifferent about their continuance in the service, and are often seeking a pretext to disengage themselves from it. Punishment in this case will be unavailing; but when an offi. cer's commission is made valuable to him, and he fears to lose it, you may exact obedience from him. 1:, “ It is not indeed consistent with reason or justice, that one set of men should make a sacrifice of property, domestic ease, and happiness ;, encounter the rigours of the field, the perils and vicissitudes of war, without some adequate compensation to obtain those bless. ings which every citizen will enjoy in common with them. It must also be a comfortless reflection to any man that, after he may have contributed to secure the rights of his country, at the risk of his life and the ruin of his fortune, there will be no provision made to prevent himself and his family from sinking into indi. gence and wretchedness." . , i
CHAV. VI. With these and other arguments, general
sent compensations, a half-pay, and pensionary
“I urge my sentiments,” said he,“ with the ..
Having reviewed the whole existing military establishment in all its parts; having pointed out the faults of that establishment and suggested the best corrections which the resources of the United States could furnish, this statement concludes with saying; “Upon the whole, gentlemen, I doubt not you are fully impressed with the defects of our present military system, and with the necessity of speedy and decisive measures to place it on a satisfactory footing. The disagreeable picture I have given you of the wants and sufferings of the army, and the discontents reigning among the officers, is a just representation of evils equally melancholy and important; and unless effectual remedies be applied without loss of time, the most alarming and ruinous consequences are to be apprehended.”
The wants and distresses of the army, when actually seen by the committee of congress; made on them a much deeper impression, than
could have been received from any statement CHAP VI. whatever. They endeavoured to communicate 7778. to congress the sentiments created in their own bosoms, and to correct as speedily as possible the errors which had been committed. But a numerous body, if it deliberates at all, proceeds slowly in the conduct of executive affairs, and existing mischiefs, especially those growing out of their own measures, are seldom promptly corrected.
Much of the sufferings of the army was attributed to neglect in the quarter master's department, which, notwithstanding the repeated remonstrances of the commander in chief, had long been permitted to remain without a head. This subject was very early taken up by the committee, and proper representations made | respecting it.* »» Congress, though really earnest in their wishes to make the necessary arrangements, and labouring assiduously on the complicated duties assigned them, still remained under the
influence of those opinions which had already · produced such mischievous effects in the commissary department.
They were still disposed to divide duties, and thereby create an immediate dependence on their own body, of persons who had offices which were in their own nature mere subdivi.
* See Note, No. VII. at the end of the volume. VOL. III.
CHAP. VI. sions of a greater department, under the control 1778. of the chief of which, the public interests would
require them to be entirely placed. In this temper, it was resolved, that the department
of the quarter master general should be immeFebruary 5. diately executed on the following plan. First.
The military line to be styled the quarter master general's, which is to include the regulating of marches, encampments, order of battle, &c. &c. as described in the books of the profession.
This office not to have the disposal of public money, except small occasional sums for defraying petty expenses in the army.
Second. The commissary of forage, who is to be confined to that article in his purchases.
Third. The commissary for horses and waggons.
Fourth. The agent for the purchase of tents, intrenching tools, building of barracks, and for all the smaller supplies of the department.
The three last to be governed in their purchases by the estimates and orders of the quarter master general, or the board of war.
This plan not being approved in camp, was neyer carried into execution, and it was not until the month of March, that the system was definitively settled. Major general Greene was then appointed quarter master general with two assistants. Previous to that time the duties of the department, so far as they related to the supplies for the camp, were principally performed by the officers.
Not long after this, the embarrassments CHAP. VL. which had been imposed on the commissary 1778. department, and which had been maintained with great perseverance, were also taken off. The commissary general of purchases was put in reality at the head of his department, with power to appoint and remove his assistants, and, to ensure proper attention to the wants of the army, he was placed under the immediate di. rection of the commander in chief. Mr. Wadsworth of Connecticut, a person well qualified for the office, was elected to fill it, but this appointment did not take place until the month of April. In the mean-time, the mischiefs and miseries, resulting from the unfortunate system which had been adopted, were incalculable.
The letter of general Washington to the committee, which has been mentioned, seems to have formed the basis of their reports to congress, and the system it recommended appears to have been generally adopted.
Even the repugnance felt by the government to a half-pay establishment was in some degree overcome; but the measures first taken on this interesting subject were not sufficient in themselves, nor were they taken until many very va. luable officers were lost to the service.*
The number of regiments, and the appor. tionment on each state were taken by congress
* See Note, No. VIII. at the end of the volume.