To accomplish anything, however, it is really indispensable that some relief be extended, and that promptly, as follows:
1. Money or some equivalent must be had to keep the machinery of the department going. Arrearages especially should be provided for. For instance, over $5,000,000 is now due to the factory interest alone for goods long since delivered and expended, and that, too, after a liberal use of call certificates, non-taxable bonds, and even the raw material, cotton. All the factories are under contract to deliver at fair prices two-thirds of their production. They all work under a uniform system, one built up with care and labor, and with a result perfectly satisfactory. The whole, unfortunately, is about to crumble in for want of funds; the factories being without the means to meet current expenditures, even at times to pay taxes. Their only relief is, to put their production upon the market, and the department is in no position to complain of the loss of material.
2. If money can be supplied, then the system of barter, now almost universal, should be checked, or at least placed under restrictions. The necessities of the Subsistence Bureau have compelled with it a free resort to barter. The Mining and Nitre Bureau has also gone largely into it. In Virginia, especially, this has been done. Material necessary for the manufacture of clothing for the army has been directed from its legitimate use. Thus cotton is expended here when the factories have stopped work for the want of same. Cotton yarns are made way with, when wanted for army socks, and also shirtings and osnaburgs needed for clothing and forage sacks. The Subsistence Bureau has now some 150 bales of osnaburgs stored here to be used in barter, and this Department is without a single yard of material to make into shirts or drawers.
General Lee represents his army to be in want of underclothing, and a call has recently been made for 12,000 shirts, which, for the first time, could not be sent forward promptly. That illustrates strongly the drawbacks resulting from an attempt to relieve the necessities of one branch of the service by diverting irregularly material due to another. If barter must continue, cannot it be restricted, and as far as possible articles like tobacco used in lieu of what goes to make up essential military supplies? The Department has struggled on successfully in the past, notwithstanding this serious difficulty, but some relief is needed for the future.
In the same way hides of beeves slaughtered by commissaries are made way with, though due to this Department under general orders, and absolutely essential to the continued supply of shoes to the army. The practice of purchasing beeves with the obligation to return the hides to the seller should be discontinued.3. Some protection similar to that given to the factory operatives by Special Order No. 310, paragraph XXXII, should be extended to the detailed men of mechanical skill employed in the established work-shops of the Department, so as to guard against unnecessary interruptions, and cause great loss of supplies. With some relief