the temporary employment of proper persons to fulfill the duties of postmasters and contractors in urgent cases, until appointments can be made, and for other like purposes. Without some legislative provision on the subject, there is serious risk of the destruction of the mail service by reason of the delays and hardships suffered by contractors under the present system, which requires constant reference to Richmond of their accounts, as well as of the returns of the local postmasters, before they can receive payment for services rendered. Like provision is also necessary in the Treasury Department, while for military affairs it would seem to be sufficient to authorize the President and Secretary of War to delegate to the commanding general so much of the discretionary powers vested in them by law as the exigencies of the service shall require.
The report of the Secretary of the Navy gives in detail the operations of that Department since January last, embracing information of the disposition and employment of the vessels, officers, and men, and the construction of vessels at Richmond, Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, Selma, and on the rivers Roanoke, Neuse, Pedee, Chattahoochee, and Tombigbee; the accumulation of ship timber and supplies, and the manufacture of ordnance, ordnance stores, and equipments. The foundries and workshops have been greatly improved, and their capacity to supply all demands for heavy ordnance for coast and harbor defenses is limited only by our deficiency in the requisite skilled labor. The want of such labor and of seamen seriously affects the operations of the Department.
The skill, courage, and activity of our cruisers at sea cannot be too highly commended. They have inflicted heavy losses on the enemy without suffering a single disaster, and have seriously damaged the shipping interests of the United States by compelling their foreign commerce to seek the protection of neutral flags.
Your attention is invited to the suggestions of the report on the subject of supplying seamen for the service, and of the provisions of the law in relation to the Volunteer Navy.
The Postmaster General reports the receipts of that Department