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PUBLICATION OF WAR RECORDS.
Washington City, September 30, 1878. SIR: I have the honor to report that the work of preparing the records of the War of the Rebellion for publication is progressing as satisfactorily, in my opinion, as attending circumstances will permit, and much progress had been made when I took charge of the office in January last. The further prosecution of the work is embarrassed by a want of sufficient and suitable office room for the accommodation of the opyists and assorting of the records, by want of competent assistants to verify copy, and to some extent by the fact that Congress has not yet determined the manner in which the records are to be published.
It is of the utmost importance that the records be accurately published; and absolute accuracy can, in my judgment, only be secured by putting them in print under the immediate direction of those familiar with the names of persons and places concerned, and with military terms, and who are zealously interested in this special work. Many of the records can be copied in print directly from the original manuscript at but little, if any, greater cost than is involved in the ordinary process of copying, and with the advantage that the printed copies can be multiplied at an inappreciable cost and be distributed to various places for safe-keeping. These original manuscripts cannot well pass from the custody of the department, and I have therefore asked for a limited number of printers to work under my own or my successor's immediate direction.
The Union records filed in the department are probably as complete as they can ever be; but the Confederate records are by no means complete. Additions are being made to them from time to time, and under the policy adopted by yourself I believe that all the most important missing documents will be secured to the use of the United States. Under these circumstances I have been devoted more particularly to an examination of the Union records, and those for 1862 and 1863 are now under scrutiny. In my opinion the Confederate records for 1861 are sufficiently complete to justify an attempt to publish all the records for that year; just what links are missing can be determined and searched for when the compilation is made. I therefore suggest that congress be requested to determine the manner in which the work is to be published, and venture to suggest, for your better judgment, that such publication should give the records, as nearly as may be, in chronological order; that the correspondence, orders, and reports relating to any battle or campaign should be arranged so as to give a complete history of the events to which they relate; and that, by all means, both the Union and the Confederate