CIVIL WAR - Colonel Amos B. EATON (1806-1877)
Inspection Report of the Disbursing Branches of the Army of the United States in the Military Department of the South, Made by Colonel A.B. Easton, A.C.G.S., under the Special Instructions of the Secretary of War, Between the 14th of April and the 14th of May, 1864, Army of the Potomac Printing Office, 1864
[Washington, D.C.]: Army of the Potomac Printing Office, . 8vo. 27, pp. With an autograph letter signed to Eaton from General James A. Hardie, tipped to the verso of the title and an autograph letter signed by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton to Eaton, laid in (see below).
Publisher's tan lettered wrappers, marked in ink at the top "Confidential"
Provenance: Amos B. Eaton (signature on upper wrapper and accompanying letters)
The author's copy of a confidential Union report, published on a field hand-press.
At the height of the Civil War, the Department of the South, comprising the Union-held positions on the coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina (e.g. Hilton Head, Morris Island, and Pensacola) held critical strategic importance, but also a great logistical challenge. Failures to adequately supply and maintain the posts in a difficult climate prompted an official inquiry from the Department of War. Long-serving and well-respected commissary department officer A. B. Eaton was despatched to the region in the spring of 1864 to inspect the "disbursing branches" of the Army in the region: the Quartermaster Department, the Subsistence Department, the Medical Department, the Engineering Corps and the Ordinance Department. Upon his return, Eaton submitted his report to his superior, Inspector General James Hardie. Showing no favoritism, Eaton's report called to task a number of respected officers and clergymen, for everything from the disbursement of water and the construction of barracks, to the education and diet of freed slaves. Realizing the gravity of the problem, but also the delicate politics involved, Hardie had the report confidentially printed in but a few copies (perhaps as few as two): i.e. for the Secretary of War and Eaton himself (i.e. the present copy). Accompanying this pamphlet is an autograph letter signed by Hardie to Eaton, dated June 20, 1864, sending the present copy of the report and explaining the unusual circumstances of its printing: "... You may know that I think the report valuable, since I had it printed confidentially for the eye of the Secretary himself, who has read it & sent it to Gen. Halleck for his review. The report has not been published. You need fear no issue of extra copies. I send you one. I had the report printed on a War Dept. handpress, a few pages set up at a time & struck off, then the same type used again &c. So you can see that there can be no extra copies possibly retained by any body..." Also accompanying Eaton's copy of his report is a June 28,1864 autograph letter signed by Secretary of War Stanton, thanking Eaton for his "diligence, fidelity and ability." Following this confidential report, Eaton was promoted to Brigadier General and Commissary General of the Army.