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George Dyer Incompetence Transcript
Washington, Sunday July 28, 1861
Capt Henry G. Thomas of the 5th Regiment, in behalf of the Captains of the Regiment and at their request charges against Lieutenant Merrill Quartermaster, that he is utterly and wholly unfit, and is incompetent to be in charge of his duties, by reason of natural dullness, by lack of business habits. Personally the Captain believes that the Quartermaster does not discharge his duties honestly.
Also that Lieutenant Whitman the adjutant, is unfit for his place, and does not discharge his duties, that he was not on the field of battle, that since he has been continually in this City riding about, and has been absent from the Regiment, as I am informed, without leave. These charges I have no doubt are true. Still it is evident to me, that the great source of trouble is the Colonel, who knew of the incompetence and inefficiency of these officers, and could at any time have revoked their special appointments, and returned them to duty in the line. If he could find no lieutenants of the line fit to discharge the duties of Adjutant and Quartermaster, he should have given acting appointments to proper persons and reported to you.
The 5th Regiment is in very bad condition. The officers and men have no confidence in their Colonel, and do not feel like going again into battle under him. I have advised him to resign, but he does not seem inclined to do so. I propose to entreat the Congressmen to request Mr. Seward to revoke his furlough as Consul, and have him sent to Vera Cruz. It would not be difficult to get a good Colonel, and I think an old Army officer. With a good man, The Reg’t may be brought up. As it is now, it is an offense and a cause of shame to every man of Maine here. The Reg’t is at Bush Hill, hungry, without tents, in bush camp, with scant blankets, cooking tools, having lost 4 wagons, 16 horses, and about everything including their honor. The Col. if he did his duty could have procured all necessaries days ago, but he did not. I sent them their trousers, also the 2nd, 3rd and 4th.
The other Reg’ts are in very good condition and are recovering from fatigue. They complain generally of rations, of which the pork alone is poor. If the quantity is short, as they complain, the fault is with the officers alone. No Regiment stands better here than the 2nd, and no field officers are in better repute. Next comes the 4th and the 3rd. These Reg’ts are an honor to the State and maintain her dignity. I think the 6th will turn out well. It is in fine condition physically and improving in the School of the Soldier. The Quartermaster, Adjutant and Major are not of much account.
Dr. Garcelon goes home tomorrow, and will give you much detail. Dr. Ellis is here, and has commenced his examinations. Col. Wildes will inform you that the scale has been largely in error in regard to the clothing of the soldiers, and what is really best and fittest.
I shall pay off the 2nd tomorrow.
I close with the earnest request that there should be a rigid scrutiny into the fitness of the officers, and the unfit, and incompetent men rejected from the Service.
I add also, that I have labored much with the First Regiment, and they are determined to go home as soon as they can.
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