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Yellow-fever barracks: This building is in such condition that, with an expenditure of about $1,000, it will be available for the immediate quartering of two companies of artillery, should it be decided that an increase of this arm is advisable. Officers' quarters would have to be built, but temporary quarters could be provided in Ballaja Barracks. Plans have been submitted for the erection of barracks for 2 additional artillery companies and 6 sets of officers' quarters.
Ponce: The reservation at this post, consisting of about 17} acres, has many objectionable features; it is situated so close to the Portuguese River that it is exposed to the constant danger of floods during the rainy season; in recent stormy weather, not very severe, a portion of made land, upon which much work had been expended, was entirely destroyed; the kitchens and dining rooms of the enlisted men and the magazines are in dangerous proximity to the barracks and quarters, within about 30 feet, subject to the possibility of the latter being destroyed by either fire or explosion; the officers' quarters are close to those of the enlisted men and closed in on the rear and sides. There has been considerable sickness among the officers at this post. About 7 acres of this reservation is river bed, of no use. Within 1} miles of the center of the city of Ponce, and not more than one-eighth of a mile from the military road, there is a tract of 279 acres, with water rights (independent of the city system), which, to my mind, is the most desirable site for a post on the south side of the island; the ground is far above any possibility of overflow from the river. Water is conveyed to this ground by a ditch some 2 miles in length, and heads in the hills, beyond all probability of contamination. This water could be piped from the ditch to every portion of this land. This tract would afford ample drill ground for a regiment, and by purchasing an additional tract of about 40 acres a good rifle range could be added. I have personally inspected this land several times, once in company with General Davis, the late department commander, who thought well of it. The owners of this property demand $100 an acre, but it is my opinion that it can be purchased readily for $60. I earnestly recommend its purchase.
Should the retention of the present post be deemed advisable, I recommend the removal of all the outbuildings, now close to the barracks, the placing of the magazine at a safe distance therefrom, and the removal to the lower floor of the barracks of the kitchens and dining rooms for enlisted men; but this would leave room for two companies only. Under no circumstances are these barracks large enough for more than three companies, though four have been quartered there.
Mayaguez: The present barracks, with the quartermaster and commissary storehouses in the lower story, are only comfortable for the quartering of two companies; with the storehouses out, as they were until recently, there would be close accommodation for four companies. All officers' quarters are rented.
Submitted herewith, under separate cover, is a description and sketch of available land that would admirably suit the needs of the post; it is situated adjacent thereto, consists of some 45 acres, and was recommended to be purchased by a board of oficers of which General Gillespie and the late department commander, General Davis, were members; the option therefor, at $70,000, will expire September 4, but it is probable that it can be purchased for one-half that amount or less. Quarters for officers could be built, troops could be comfortably quartered, and a splendid drill ground would be available. I recommend purchase of this property.
Henry Barracks: Through the removal of available quartermaster's buildings at San Juan and Aibonito and the authorized erection here of others, the troops at this post will be in comfortable quarters the coming fall.
There is a good target range and drill ground at this post. There are 10 acres in this military reservation, besides 250 acres rented. With the exception of rented ground at Henry Barracks,
there is not a suitable drill ground in Porto Rico. At Mayaguez there is not space sufficient for one company in close order, at Ponce it is possible to maneuver a battalion of four companies in some of the close-order movements, and the same is true of the parade ground at San Juan.
Five sets of quarters for noncommissioned staff are needed at the post of San Juan. At present noncommissioned officers are living in officers' quarters at San Cristobal and in the San Sebastian guardhouse in Sol street, but this building was recommended by the board of officers of which General Davis was president to be turned over to the insular government; it is a good house and was for a time occupied by an officer of the Volunteer Signal Corps.
Recruiting.–At the respective posts in the district recruiting has progressed, resulting principally in the reenlistment of discharged soldiers. Enlistment for the Porto Rico Provisional Regiment was commenced about June 11 and a most careful choice of new applicants made; a few of the defects in experienced men of the Porto Rico Regiment, U. S. V. I., were waived. The first battalion has been recruited to its usual strength, and within a month it is anticipated that enlistment for both battalions will be completed.
Telegraph and telephone.—On February 1, 1901, the military authorities transferred the control of the military telegraph lines on the island to the insular government, together with the erected wires, poles, etc.; in addition to this, certain property under proper authority was sold and paid for (under protest) by the civil authorities. Through an arrangement made with the governor of Porto Rico, all official messages of the military are now transmitted without cost over the island line. There are telephone exchanges at all posts for local communication. There is but one enlisted man of the Signal Corps on the island; he is stationed at San Juan and constantly engaged in repair work. Details at the post telephone exchanges of enlisted men from the respective garrisons have been made and at other posts than San Juan; these soldiers have also attended to the constant repairs necessary. This has not resulted to the best interests of the service, either at the exchanges or in the repair work. The constant necessary official use of this means of communication leads me to suggest that the assignment of a sufficient number of enlisted men of the Signal Corps to each post in the district would much improve the system, with economy to the Government.
Canteen.—The sale of beer at the post exchanges, recently prohibited by act of Congress, will not, I fear, result to the best interests of good discipline in Porto Rico. The low price of native drinks, their injurious effects, and the degrading associations which surround here their sale all tend to the undoing rather than the uplifting of the enlisted man. The number of places where these drinks are sold is greater than in the United States, thus affording more opportunity for drunkenness; again, the cost of beer and other beverages outside the post exchange is so great as to compel the soldier to purchase the cheaper and more injurious native drinks.
Transportation. I have the honor to invite the attention of the department commander to the most inadequate facilities afforded officers, enlisted men, and civilians of the Army by the regular steamship lines between the United States and Porto Rico. It is a frequent occurrence for officers to be compelled to accept second-class accommodations at first-class rates of passage. On the New York and Porto Rico Steamship Company the families of all persons connected with the military are not allowed the usual discount, and one case is known of a contract surgeon, on leave, charged full fare; on the Red D Line the discount privilege is limited to certain members of the families. Soldiers are, when on furlough, required to pay full fare in many instances. On several occasions enlisted men ordered to duty in the United States, and relieved previously by others from the States, have been compelled to delay departure from five to eight days owing to the inability of the steamship company to furnish transportation. A case in point has occurred while writing this report. A commissary-sergeant, relieved by his successor at Ponce, has been reported by the commanding officer as unable to obtain transportation, although application had been made therefor five days in advance of the date of sailing. With such conditions existing at the present time, when traffic is expected to be at its poorest, it is fair to presume that during the busy months the situation will materially interfere with necessary military transportation. Should the duties be removed from Porto Rico it will also doubtless interfere with transportation of supplies, owing to enormous shipments of commercial goods.
If a schedule for a small transport could be arranged to provide for a monthly trip to this district at a regular date, this boat could bring to the island the accumulation of freight and supplies required by this command, together with all passengers com nected with the Army; the shipment of supplies and freight at both ends could be so regulated as to await this transportation, as could the travel of the passengers; the monthly amount of shipment would be sufficient, without doubt, to fill a small boat, thus resulting in a saving to the Government and to the convenience of the military stationed here. This transport might also be made available for the delivery of supplies to the posts in the district, as three of the four are on the seacoast and the fourth is convenient thereto. This would also avoid the slow and expensive methods of transportation now necessary between posts. The departure from Porto Rico of those connected with the Army en route to the United States could be so timed usually as to provide passage by transport, so long as the date of sailing was known to be at a regular time in the month. The accumulation of freight at the different posts monthly would provide a cargo for the return trip.
Civil affairs.--Every effort has been made to assist, when requested, the civil authorities in the performance of their duties, but at no time has it been necessary for me to use troops in the preservation of good order.
A most complete harmony between the civil and military authorities has existed, and a very cordial and pleasant official relation resulted therefrom.
Clerical work. The clerical work at district headquarters has been considerably more than was anticipated at the inception of the district, and it has rendered necessary the constant application of the two clerks assigned to these headquarters. Their work has been performed intelligently and satisfactorily.
The paper work in the district, compared with that of the former department, amounts to about 45 per cent thereof. It has been handled with a reduction of 7 clerks. Very respectfully,
Jas A. BUCHANAN, Lieutenant-Colonel Porto Rico Provisional Regiment of Infantry, Commanding.
REPORT OF MAJ. GEN. ELWELL S. OTIS, U. S. A., COMMANDING
THE DEPARTMENT OF THE LAKES.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE LAKES,
Chicago, IU., August 7, 1901. ADJUTANT-GENERAL UNITED STATES ARMY,
Washington, D. C. SIR: I have the honor to submit a general summary of the affairs of this territorial department from November 12 last (when by appropriate orders I assumed command of the department) to June 30, the end of the fiscal year just past. Matters having relation to the several staff corps of the Army will be found suitably grouped in the attached several reports of the officers exercising supervision therein, although the frequent changes among such officers, or the withdrawal by superior authority of a number having permanent membership in these corps, have served to render the reports submitted less comprehensive and exact in detail, conclusion, and recommendation than they otherwise would have been had the ordinary conditions of staff corps service, as regards periods of permanency, prevailed. Only the inspector's, quartermaster's, and pay departments have had the same supervisory representatives during the fiscal year of 1901, which these reports are supposed to cover, and much routine staff duty and labors not connected with affairs pertaining to the department command, but brought about by closing war conditions and the recruiting of the recently authorized increase of the Army, have very naturally devolved upon the department commander and his personal staff. These ordinary and extraneous duties, together with the time given to the Department of Dakota affairs, have kept me quite constantly engaged here in Chicago and in St. Paul, so that not as yet have I been able to make the contemplated annual inspections of three of the posts of this department, of which two, Columbus Barracks and Fort Thomas, are quite important; but I expect to do so in the near future. All posts, however, were carefully inspected by the recent acting inspector-general of the command during last September and October. His attached report gives a brief résumé of the then existing conditions and situation of affairs. Prescribed inspections of the receipts and expenditures of public funds, of property presented for condemnation, and of the many colleges and other institutions of learning within department limits, with the exception of three, have also been made and properly reported.
The posts were very lightly garrisoned during the Spanisb war and Philippine insurrection, and garrisons might be considered transient because of the movement of troops constantly passed out of the country. Recently more permanency has resulted. The united garrisons of the five department posts numbered last November 38 officers and 1,460 enlisted men. They began gradually to increase last April, and now aggregate 45 officers and 2,560 enlisted men; and during the period 581 enlisted men of the Fifth Infantry at Fort Sheridan were sent to the Philippines and 1,486 recruits were passed through Columbus Barracks, mostly to the Philippines, and to organizations in other territorial departments. A new regiment of infantry (the Twentyninth) has been fully recruited and equipped, and the recruitment of a field battery of artillery is approaching completion.
Target practice has been or is now being held at most of the posts and a few practice marches conducted. Lyceums and schools have been maintained at all posts except Columbus Barracks, where the transient character of the garrison has made it impracticable, and the former orders regarding instruction are again becoming operative.
Some $80,000 have been expended in the repair and construction of post buildings, of which only $19,000 can be charged to construction. This latter indicated amount was applied to the erection of a clothing warehouse at Columbus Barracks and additions to the guardhouse and gun shed at Fort Sheridan. Sixty thousand dollars have been consumed in general repairs. All post buildings have been maintained in fair condition, although many have been without occupancy and show disintegration from climatic influences. With increased garrisons considerable additional repairs, and doubtless new construction, will become necessary. A decided want is greater accommodations for general and garrison prisoners. With the loss to the Army of the Fort Leavenworth prison as a place of confinement for soldiers found guilty of grave military offenses, post guardhouses have become overcrowded, and resort must be had to the means adopted at Fort Sheridan, namely, increased prison facilities. There are in confinement at present in the post guardhouses in this department 135 prisoners, a majority of whom are general prisoners serving sentence for the crime of desertion. This element, with our recent rapid recruiting, appears to be on the increase. These central States, from which a large portion of the Army is drawn, seem to give great advantages in the way of concealment and occupation to the absconding soldier, and our post guardhouses contain representatives of many military organizations serving beyond department limits. The enlarged reward now paid for their arrest and delivery has very much decreased their former comparative immunity from merited punishment.
Until the present month all post garrisons have labored under the difficulty of having too few officers present to perform satisfactorily even post routine duties. At one of them, consisting of a single company with its noncommissioned staff, only one commissioned officer has been present. At two, composed of three companies each, it has been impossible, a portion of the time, to collect a minority membership for a general court-martial, and some of the officers commanding companies were without former military experience and knew nothing of staff administration. Absolute requirements as to numbers for the execution of special duties, such as those pertaining to general courtsmartial and conducting journeying detachments, have been made by detaching, from time to time, members of my personal and of the departmental staff. Now officers are joining those post commands, and soon, it is believed, a sufficient number will be in attendance to meet all urgent necessities.
The chief supply officers on the department staff show in their annexed reports very large money expenditures. The great bulk of these expenditures is not connected with the expenses of this military department, but has been paid out on contracts executed in Chicago, in Kansas City, Mo., and in Akron, Ohio, for the delivery of clothing and equipage and of subsistence shipped to troops engaged in service in our lately acquired island possessions. The labors attendant upon the placing of these contracts and of inspecting, receiving, and shipping the supplies furnished thereon have been performed by these staff officers, in addition to their other more usual duties. The pay branch of the department staff has latterly been overworked a single officer, and he the chief paymaster of the department, who was formerly aided by one or two assistants, having been obliged, unaided, to perform all the pay duties of this section of country, which are onerous on account of the concentration herein of retired officers and enlisted men, and the many discharged men who make application here for their final payments.
For information on those matters of the department not herein referred to, I have the honor to invite attention to the attached reports of staff officers, to whose constant, efficient, and willing labors I am greatly indebted and desire here to make known my obligation. All department affairs have proceeded smoothly and without friction of any character.
There have not been any disturbances or riotous manifestations anywhere within the limits of the department which indicated in the least degree that the use of United States troops in aid of the enforcement of the civil laws would become necessary or desirable. The year has been one of waiting and working for a return to former conditions of peace, that former instruction, discipline, and efficiency might be attained. Very respectfully,
E. S. OTIS, Major-General, Commanding.
REPORT OF BRIG. GEN. HENRY C. MERRIAM, U. S. A., COMMANDING
THE DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI,
Omaha, Nebr., July 1, 1901. The ADJUTANT-GENERAL UNITED STATES ARMY,
Washington, D. C. Sir: I have the honor to submit my annual report of conditions and administration of this geographical department during the period from August 1, 1900 (date of last annual report), to June 30, 1901.
In compliance with orders of the President promulgated in General Orders, No. 131, Headquarters of the Army, series of 1900, I relinquished command of this department on December 4, 1900. On March 2, 1901, I again assumed command, in compliance with telegraphic instructions of that date.