Southern Historical Society Papers/Volume 03/March/Resources of the Confederacy in 1865—Report of Gen. I. M. St. John, Commissary General
|Southern Historical Society Papers: Volume 3 (1877)
Resources of the Confederacy in 1865—Report of Gen. I. M. St. John, Commissary General
|General Early's Valley Campaign →|
SOUTHERN HISTORICAL SOCIETY PAPERS,
Resources of the Confederacy in 1865—Report of General I. M. St. John, Commissary General.
[The following report of General St. John, from his original MS., with the accompanying letters, will form a necessary supplement to the papers on the "Resources of the Confederacy" which we published last year, and will be found to be of great interest and historic value. From these papers it appears certain that the Departments never received the letter written by General Lee requesting the accumulation of supplies for his army at Amelia Courthouse.]
Louisville, Kentucky, July 14th, 1873.
Hon. Jefferson Davis:
Sir—In pursuance of your suggestion, I have the honor to report, from the best accessible data, the closing operations of the Confederate States commissary service. As you are probably aware, many of the more important papers of the Subsistence Bureau were lost during the Richmond fire and the subsequent retreat. It accordingly became essential to verify in the most careful manner all statements herein resting simply upon personal recollection. This has been done; and hence the time which has been allowed to pass since the first intimation of your wishes.
Early in February, 1865, I received the order of transfer from the direction of the Nitre and Mining Corps to that of the Subsistence Bureau. A very brief inquiry into the available resources of the latter sufficed to disclose a state of affairs calling for extreme and indeed exceptional measures to meet immediate and very urgent requisitions. The more remote future I found too critically involved in the military operations, then progressing in Virginia and the Carolinas, to require more than general consideration. Beyond the most trusted confidential officers of the Executive and the War Department, few knew how far military events and hostile pressure had come to control the power of the Subsistence Bureau to execute its ordinary duties. I expected to find greater embarrassments in arranging a prompt and ample collection of supplies for the Southern armies, from the depreciated currency, the failing condition of the railroads and the general exhaustion of the country; but difficulties still more serious lay elsewhere. In every military department, and in the several districts of supply (which I examined), after the fullest allowance for all local obstacles, and all possible official shortcomings, the military status was still found to be the real measure of the ability of the Subsistence Bureau to collect at that time the required supplies. Cavalry raids, which at first only occasionally cut the more important lines of communication, had penetrated at the close of 1864 into the interior districts and had become very destructive. Travel and the movement of supplies were in several important instances (as officially reported to the War Department) suspended for days at a time on every leading railroad within our lines. Upon some of these roads communications were only restored with great difficulty, and on one important trunk line not at all. Interior depots of supplies previously deemed secure against all risk, were frequently captured and destroyed. Several of the more productive districts of Virginia and the Carolinas, which were relied upon for certain supply in last resort, had passed permanently into hostile occupation. All the remaining districts of supply (in February, 1865) were either directly menaced, or remotely disturbed by military preparations and movements for what proved to be our closing struggle.
Under these depressing circumstances, I found the army of Northern Virginia with difficulty supplied day by day with reduced rations. In the other military departments, however, the situation was better; and from several it was still possible to draw a considerable surplus for the Richmond and Petersburg depots, whenever transportation could be procured.
After a brief survey of the work to be done and of our remaining resources as before referred to, I at once proceeded to organize a system of appeal and of private contribution as auxiliary to the regular operations of the commissary service. With the earnest and very active aid of leading citizens of Virginia and North Carolina, this effort was attended with results exceeding expectation. Calls were made upon the Quartermaster-General in person, and the officers in charge of the corn and forage supply for combined action; and these calls were met to the extreme limit of their power. Requisitions were also made upon the reserve stores of the Nitre and Mining Bureau, which my successor (in hearty cooperation) arranged to meet without detriment to his own service. Still further to increase receipts of meat and other supplies from beyond the Confederate lines, requisitions for coin were approved by the President and the Secretary of War, and were met as called for by the Treasury Department. It would be an omission not to add in this direct connection that all aid and support possible under the circumstances were rendered to the Commissary-General by his superior and associate officers, and especially by the old corps of his predecessor.
With these combined agencies, it was found practicable during the ensuing three weeks to materially improve the collection of supplies for the Army of Northern Virginia and in part for their delivery: sufficiently so to become the subject of special note in the correspondence of the General Commanding (General Lee) with the War Department, to which reference is made in the appended letter of the late Secretary of War (General Breckinridge). On or before March 15th, 1865, the Commissary-General was able to report to the Secretary of War that in addition to the daily issue of rations to the Army of Northern Virginia, there lay in depot along the railroad between Greensboro' (North Carolina), Lynchburg, Staunton and Richmond, at least ten days rations of bread and meat, collected especially for that army, and subject to the requisition of its chief commissary officer: also that considerably over 300,000 rations were held in Richmond as a special reserve, and that the Post Commissary, Major J. H. Claiborne, had marked down and was prepared to impress a still larger quantity of flour and other supplies secretly stored by hoarders and speculators.
In the accompanying statement of the Assistant Commissary-General, Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas G. Williams (see appended papers), it will be further observed that there was collected by April 1st, 1865, in depot, subsistence stated in detail as follows:
At Richmond, Virginia, 300,000 rations bread and meat.
At Danville, Virginia, 500,000 rations bread.
At Danville, Virginia, 1,500,000 rations meat.
At Lynchburg, Virginia, 180,000 rations bread and meat.
At Greensboro', North Carolina, and vicinity, 1,500,000 rations bread and meat.
In addition, there were considerable supplies of tea, coffee and sugar carefully reserved for hospital issues chiefly. These returns did not include the subsistence collections by the field trains of the Army of Northern Virginia under orders from its own headquarters, nor the depot collections at Charlottesville, Staunton and other points upon the Virginia Central railroad to meet requisitions from the Confederate forces operating in the Valley and Western Virginia. South and West of Greensboro' (North Carolina) the depot accumulations were reserved first to meet requisitions for the forces operating in the Carolinas, and the surplus for Virginia requisitions.
This collection of supplies was reported daily, as it progressed, to the Secretary of War. The Quartermaster-General and his officers were also officially advised as occasion required. It is hardly necessary to add that every possible effort was made to secure from the Quartermaster Department prompt transportation from the railroad depots to the front; but the officers of that Department, owing to the rapid deterioration and, in many cases, the absolute failure of the motive power of the railroads, were unable to forward the collected supplies as fast as they were brought into depots. After every effort to move had been exhausted, the supplies not transported were placed in temporary sub-depots to await events.
Early in March, 1865, the questions arising out of the status thus set forth were carefully considered in a conference between the Secretary of War (General Breckinridge) and the General Commanding (General Lee), to which the Quartermaster-General (General Lawton) and the Commissary-General were called. After a general discussion of the army wants in clothing, forage and subsistence, the Commissary-General, in reply to the inquiry of the General Commanding, stated that a daily delivery by cars and canal boat, at or near Richmond, of about five hundred tons of commissary stores was essential to provide for the Richmond siege reserve and other accumulations desired by the General Commanding; that the depot collections were already sufficient to assure the meeting of these requisitions, and if the then existing military lines could be held, the Commissary-General felt encouraged as to the future of his own immediate Department. Upon the question of railroad transportation, the Quartermaster-General then stated that the rolling stock at command, and especially the engines, had become so much worn and otherwise deficient, and without means or provision for renewal, that the daily delivery in Richmond and Petersburg of five hundred tons of commissary stores in addition to other requirements of the general service and the demands of the resident population, could not be guaranteed. He engaged however, to make every possible effort to secure from the railroad companies the desired improvement in the condition of their rolling stock. These efforts were made; but at that late period of exhaustion the situation had passed all human power to amend.
The Commissary-General next submitted the question of military protection of stores in transit; but the Commanding General in reply dwelt upon the increasing military pressure upon his lines and his own diminishing forces. No better protection was to be looked for in the coming than in the last campaign.
From the date of this interview until the evacuation of Richmond, the Bureau effort continued to be directed to depot accumulations, and with the general result already referred to, and of which the annexed statements of the Assistant Commissary-General and of Majors Claiborne, Noland and Dudley, Confederate States Army, present details.
Upon the earliest information of the approaching evacuation, instructions were asked from the War Department and the General Commanding for the final disposition of the subsistence reserve in Richmond, then reported by Major Claiborne, Post Commissary, to exceed in quantity 350,000 rations. The reply—Send up the Danville railroad if Richmond is not safe—was received from the army headquarters April 2d, 1865, and too late for action, as all railroad transportation had then been taken up, by superior orders, for the archives, bullion and other Government service then deemed of prior importance. All that remained to be done was to fill every accessible army wagon; and this was done, and the trains were hurried southward. The residue of the subsistence reserve was then distributed among the citizens of Richmond, partly in a regular manner under the direction of the Post Commissary, and thereafter, what was left, after the evacuation had progressed too far for an orderly distribution, was appropriated by the crowd.
It may be added that on March 31st, or possibly the morning of April 1st, a telegram was received at the Bureau in Richmond from the chief commissary officer of the Army of Northern Virginia requesting bread stuffs to be sent to Petersburg. Shipment was commenced at once, and was pressed to the extreme limit of transportation permitted by the movement of General Longstreet's corps (then progressing) southward. No calls by letter or requisition from the General Commanding, or from any other source, official or unofficial, had been received, either by the Commissary-General or the Assistant Commissary-General; nor (as will be seen by the appended letter of the Secretary of War) was any communication transmitted through the Department channels to the Bureau of Subsistence—for the collection of supplies at Amelia Courthouse. Had any such requisition or communication been received at the Bureau as late as the morning of April 1st, it could have been met from the Richmond reserve, with transportation on south-bound trains; and most assuredly so previous to General Longstreet's movement.
On the morning of April 3d, the Commissary-General left Richmond with the Secretary of War, for the headquarters of the General Commanding near Amelia Springs. On the route efforts were made to press to the same point several trains of army wagons with subsistence, part of which was captured by hostile cavalry then operating immediately in the rear of General Lee's army near Clementon bridge of the Appomattox river, and the remainder were turned off towards Farmville. The party of the Secretary of War forced their way with difficulty through to Amelia Springs,long lines of army trains (headquarter and subsistence) still burning.
After personal conference, early on the morning of the 6th, with the General Commanding (at General Longstreet's quarters) as to the disposition of the remaining supplies at Farmville, the Secretary of War with the Quartermaster-General, the Chief of the Engineer Bureau and the Commissary-General, proceeded to Farmville, the latter officer awaiting notification from headquarters whether to hold at Farmville or to send down the railroad about 80,000 rations there held on trains for immediate issue. No return communication coming from the General Commanding or the corps commanders, couriers were repeatedly sent out: but the military events of the day were very adverse on the left. During that night and the morning of the 7th, the remnants of the army passed through Farmville taking but a portion of the rations there being issued. On the day before, the Commissary-General asked from the General Commanding, in the presence of the Secretary of War, instructions or suggestions as to placing these Farmville supplies at the most convenient points of temporary security, the presence of the enemy's cavalry having caused the supplies of other depots to be moved westward. General Lee replied in substance that the military situation did not permit an answer.
On the evening of the 7th the party of the Secretary of War again met the subsistence trains on the railroad at Pamphlin's station, twenty miles west of Farmville. From reports of hostile movements close at hand, the Commissary-General suggested that the cars be ordered further west, communicating, if possible, with the General Commanding, then six miles distant on the Appomattox road. It was, however, on consultation with the Secretary of War and Quartermaster-General, not deemed advisable, under the extreme uncertainty of information, to give special orders. The next morning these cars, or the larger portion, were captured, or burned to avoid capture. The surrender followed the subsequent day, April 9th.
From Pamphlin's depot, the Commissary-General accompanied the Secretary of War to Danville, and thence to Greensboro' (North Carolina), then the headquarters of General Joseph E. Johnston. At Danville instructions were given to Colonel T. G. Williams and Major S. B. French (ranking officers) to remain with Major B. P. Noland, Chief Commissary Officer in Virginia, and reorganize the commissary service in that State, should events permit.
The Bureau headquarters were continued in North Carolina until the surrender of that Military Department.
During the interval, preparations were made for the westward movement of forces as then contemplated. In these arrangements, the local depots were generally found so full, and supplies so well in hand, from Charlotte southwest, that the Commissary-General was able to report to the Secretary of War that the requisitions for which he was notified to prepare could all be met. The details of this service were executed, and very ably, by Major J. H. Claiborne, then and until the end Assistant Commissary-General.
The remaining duties of the Subsistence Bureau from that time until the final surrender of the Trans-Mississippi Department, consisted chiefly in arranging, so far as was permitted by our rapidly diminishing territory and resources, for the supply of returning troops and the hospitals.
Permit me in closing to acknowledge in grateful terms the very efficient aid of Lieutenant-Colonel T. G. Williams, Assistant Commissary-General, Majors French, Claiborne, Noland and Dudley, and of all Commissary officers who assisted in the execution of the duties indicated in this report.
I. M. St. John,
(Late) Commissary-General C. S. A.
Louisville, Kentucky, 1st November, 1873.
General I. M. St. John:
Dear Sir—I have read with great satisfaction your report of your administration of the commissariat of the Confederate States. The facts stated by you, and by those connected with you in your official duties as Commissary-General, accord with my recollections and impressions, as well as with your oral report to me soon after the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. Had your expressions been stronger than they are, they would but the more fully have corresponded with the oral report referred to, and with your statement as to the provision made to supply the troops under the command of General Johnston, had that army made the contemplated retreat.
With great regard and a grateful remembrance of your zeal and efficiency in the several offices held by you in the service of the Confederacy,
I am faithfully, yours,
Lexington, Kentucky, May 16th, 1871.
My dear General—My absence from home for some weeks has caused a delay in answering your letter in relation to the supplies for General Lee's army about the time of the evacuation of Richmond.
Without reciting the various points of your inquiries, I will answer them by a general statement.
I took charge of the War Department on the 5th of February, 1865. The evacuation of Richmond occurred the night of the 2d of April. When I arrived at Richmond the Commissary Department, from the cutting of the railroads by the enemy's cavalry, and other causes not necessary to mention, was in a very deplorable condition. I placed you, much against your wishes, at the head of the Department. Your conduct of it under all the disadvantages was so satisfactory that a few weeks afterwards I received a letter from General Lee, in which he said that his army had not been so well supplied for many months.
A few days before the evacuation of Richmond you reported to me that besides supplies accumulated at different distant points in Virginia and North Carolina, you had ten days rations accessible by rail, to and subject to the orders of his Chief Commissary.
I have no recollection of any communication from General Lee in regard to the accumulation of rations at Amelia Courthouse. If any came to me, it was probably by telegram on the day of the evacuation, when it was too late to comply.
You and I had daily interviews, and I am sure that all requisitions were promptly considered and filled when possible.
The second or third day after the evacuation, I recollect you said to General Lee in my presence that you had a large number of rations (I think 80,000) at a convenient point on the railroad, and desired to know where you should place them. The General replied that the military situation made it impossible to answer.
General Lee's letter to me, relative to the improved condition of the Commissary Department, is probably among the Confederate archives at Washington city.
I am, General, respectfully and truly,
General I. M. St. John, Louisville, Kentucky.
Richmond, Va., September, 1865.
At your request, I have the honor to make the following statement, from the best data I could obtain:
On the 1st of April, 1865, the Subsistence Bureau of the Confederate States, had available for the army of Northern Virginia: At Richmond, 300,000 rations bread and meat; at Danville, 500,000 rations bread; at Danville, 1,500,000 rations meat; at Lynchburg, 180,000 rations bread and meat; at Greensboro', North Carolina, and the vicinity of Danville, there were in addition not less than 1,500,000 rations of bread and meat; there were also at the points above named large supplies of tea, coffee and sugar, which were reserved chiefly for issues to hospital.
These supplies were held ready for distribution upon the requisition of the Chief Commissary of General Lee's army. No requisitions were then on hand unsupplied.
On the morning of 2d April, 1865, the Chief Commissary of General Lee's army was asked by telegram, what should be done with the stores in Richmond. No reply was received until night; he then suggested that if Richmond was not safe, they might be sent up on the Richmond and Danville railroad. As the evacuation of Richmond was then actively progressing, it was impracticable to move those supplies.
For many months previously the army wagon trains had been employed in collecting subsistence throughout the country and hauling directly to the army near Petersburg. No report of these collections was ever made directly to the Bureau; so no estimate can be made of the amount of stores held in that way on or about the 1st of April, 1865.
In reply to your question with regard to the establishment of a depot of supplies at Amelia Courthouse, I have to say that I had no information of any such requisition or demand upon the Bureau. During the month of March, and up to the 1st April, 1865, the combined exertions of our own officers and those of the volunteer commissariat kept all of the sub-depots on the lines of railroad in Virginia nearly always full. The means of transportation were constantly inadequate.
|(Signed)||Thomas G. Williams,|
|(Late) Lt.-Col. and Act. Asst. Comy.-Gen. C. S. Army.|
Richmond, June 3d, 1873.
General—Your communication, calling attention to difference in my statement of number of rations at this post at the time of the evacution of the city (400,000 rations of bread and meat) and that of Lieutenant-Colonel T. G. Williams, Assistant Commissary-General (300,000 rations of bread and meat), has been duly considered. This difference has evidently been caused by reports to the Bureau prior to the latest movements before the evacuation of the city, and I feel fully assured in reiterating my statement that I controlled the quantity claimed; and more, that I had under my eye stores put away by speculators and hoarders that could have been gathered in short time, and had been permitted to remain undisturbed until necessity demanded. I distributed a large number of rations on the day and night of the evacuation to every demand from army sources, to many of the citizens, and then, with the pressure of the evacuation, the supplies were taken possession of by the crowd.
No order was received by me, and (with full opportunities of information if it had been given) I have no knowledge of any plan to send supplies to Amelia Courthouse.
Under such circumstances, with transportation afforded, there could readily have been sent about 300,000 rations, with due regard to the demand upon this post.
During the retreat, supplies were found at Pamphlin's depot, Farmville, Danville, Salisbury and Charlotte: and being placed under orders as Assistant Commissary-General, I forwarded supplies from South Carolina to General J. E. Johnston's army, and also collected supplies at six or seven named points in that State for the supposed retreat of General Johnston's army through the State. This duty, with a full determination at the evacuation of this city to follow the fortunes of our cause, gave me opportunity of ascertaining the resources of the country for my Department. The great want was that of transportation, and specially was it felt by all collecting commissaries for a few months before the surrender.
|Very respectfully, your obedient servant,|
|(Signed)||J. H. Claiborne,|
|(Late) Major and C. S. C. S. A.|
|To General I. M. St. John,|
|(Late) Commy. Gen. of Subs. C.S.A.|
Middleburg, Va., April 16th, 1874.
Dear General—My absence from home for a month, and the consequent accumulation of business, imposes on me the necessity of making but a brief and hurried answer to your inquiries.
Had I the time it would give me pleasure to give you, as desired, a full statement of the organization and working of the Subsistence Bureau, and its condition when you were appointed Commissary-General in February, 1865. I have read with care your statement to Mr. Davis of the operations of the Subsistence Bureau during the dark and closing days of the Confederacy, when you were the chief of that Bureau, and so far as I was cognizant of them, or was at the time informed, I think the statement entirely correct. I was Chief Commissary of Virginia, with the rank of Major and Commissary, was stationed in Richmond, with my office in the same building with that of the Commissary-General, and was in close association with him. I think the plan adopted by your predecessor, Colonel Northrop (which was continued by you), for obtaining for the use of the army the products of the country, was as perfect and worked as effectively as any that could have been devised.
Each State had its chief commissary; was laid off in divisions, with an officer in each, and the divisions subdivided, with agents in each of them. All these officers had the authority to impress supplies; and with this power and the money which was furnished them without stint, all supplies which could be spared from the support of the non-combatants were obtained for the use of the army. The accumulations at the supply depots were regularly reported by the subordinate officers to the Chief Commissary of the State, and by him to the Commissary-General, who, either by general or special order, directed their disposition.
I recollect well when you took charge of the Bureau, that our condition was almost desperate, not because our supplies were exhausted (though exhaustion at a not remote future was looked to and seriously apprehended), but because our transportation from points where supplies were accumulated had almost entirely failed us. All the railroads were in bad condition, and several of the most important ones had been so damaged by the enemy's cavalry as to be unavailing for the transportation of supplies for weeks at a time.
Your action was prompt, energetic and efficient. Your appeal for temporary aid from private resources was nobly responded to by the people. The damaged roads were speedily repaired, and very soon we felt, as I well recollect, in a comparatively comfortable condition; and thus we continued until the evacuation of Richmond. I have no means of stating the quantities of supplies on hand at my several depots at or about that time, for all my official papers were burned, but I know that in Richmond, Danville, Lynchburg, Staunton, Charlottesville, &c., the accumulations were large. I left Richmond at 1 o'clock of the night Richmond was evacuated, with orders from you to make Lynchburg my headquarters, and be ready to forward supplies from that point to the army. I never heard of any order for the accumulation of supplies at Amelia Springs. If such order was given it must have been after the evacuation of Richmond was determined on, and when railroad transportation could not be had; prior to that time such order could readily have been complied with.
Regretting that I cannot make a more full and satisfactory response to your inquiries,
|I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,|
|(Signed)||B. P. Noland,|
|(Late) Major and Chief Commissary for Virginia, C. S. A.|
|General I. M. St. John, (Late} Commissary-General C. S. A.|
January 1st, 1876.
General I. M. St. John,
Late Commissary-General Confederate States:
Dear Sir—I have read your report of July 14th, 1873, to Hon. Jefferson Davis, giving an account of the operations of the Confederate States commissary service, with great interest, and am confident of its correctness and accuracy in every essential particular. While you filled the office of Commissary-General, and during your predecessor's administration of that Department, I was president and in charge of the Richmond and Danville railroad and the Piedmont railroad, and conversant (except for a short interval) with many matters connected with the commissariat at Richmond. My relations with two of the Secretaries of War and with Colonel Northrup, as well as the principal officers of his Department, were numerous, and frequently confidential. I had official as well as personal relations with them at all times, and their views and actions on the subject of transportation were frequently communicated to me. I was familiar with the wants of the Government, and when the city of Richmond was selected as the Capital of the Confederacy, I was consulted as to the best plan for systematising the transportation over all the railroad lines within its limits; and being president of the Richmond and Danville and Piedmont railroads, some times the only ones open to the city of Richmond, great responsibility was devolved on me. The difficulties of obtaining supplies were very great, particularly when the roads under my charge were cut and transportation suspended on them, which was the case upon one or two occasions for several weeks. Engines and cars and machinery generally on these roads were insufficient and inadequate from wear and tear, to accomplish the amount of transportation required by the Government, barely sufficient to meet the daily wants. Every other route for obtaining supplies outside of the State of Virginia was closed long before the surrender, but after you entered on the discharge of the duties of Commissary-General, the Richmond and Danville and Piedmont railroads were kept open, and about that time we added largely to its rolling stock, by procuring engines and cars from the different roads on the route of the Virginia and Tennessee railroad west. Starvation had stared the Army of Northern Virginia in the face; and the Commissary Department organized an appeal to the people on the line of the Richmond and Danville railroad for voluntary contributions of supplies, and a number of gentlemen of influence, character and position, including the most eminent clergymen of the State, addressed them in several counties, urging them to furnish the supply wanted.
No one who witnessed can ever forget the result. Contribution was universal, and supplies of food, sufficient to meet the wants of the army at the time, were at once sent to the depots on the road, until they were packed and groaned under their weight; and I affirm that at the time of the evacuation of Richmond, the difficulty of delivering supplies sufficient for the support of the Army of Northern Virginia under General Lee was solved and surmounted for I know that abundant supplies were in reach of transportation on the Richmond and Danville railroad, being massed in Danville, Charlotte, and at other points; and from the increased motive power above referred to, they could have been delivered as fast as they were required. Moreover, sufficient means—not in Confederate currency, but in specie—just before the evacuation of Richmond, had been furnished me by Mr. Trenholm, Secretary of the Treasury, to meet the exigency and pay all pressing demands on the company. At the time of the evacuation of that city, there were ample supplies in it, as well as on the railroad west of Amelia Courthouse, to have been delivered at the latter place for the retreating army, if its numbers had been double what they were. No orders were ever given to any officers or employee of the Richmond and Danville railroad to transport any supplies to Amelia Courthouse for General Lee's army, nor did I ever hear that any such orders were sent to the Commissary Department on the occasion of the evacuation of Richmond, until after the surrender of the army. On Saturday, the day before the evacuation of the city, I was officially informed by the Quartermaster-General (Lawton), by direction of President Davis, that the Government had no purpose to evacuate the city at that time, and no reason to expect it, and that I could leave Richmond for a fortnight or more, if I desired to do so, without feeling any apprehension of its being evacuated in the meantime. This information was given me in answer to a communication that I wrote to President Davis on Friday night, asking full information of the purpose of the Government, in order that I might meet the responsibilities of my position. He not only directed the Secretary of War to give me all the information possessed by the War Department, but to procure any information that I might ask for from General Lee himself. Being assured that there was no reason to apprehend an evacuation of the city, I went on that evening to my home in Amelia, and returned next day, upon being informed by telegraph of the proposed evacuation. Neither the superintendent of the road nor myself, up to the time that the trains left the city, ever heard of supplies being wanted at Amelia Courthouse, although I had a long interview with the President and Secretary of War alone in my office in reference to the route to be taken by the wagon supply train, and a still longer conversation with the President on the cars during the night on his way to Danville. I have never believed that any orders to place supplies of food at Amelia Courthouse were received by the Commissary Department at the time of the evacuation of the city, because from Richmond, or from the upper portions of the railroad if required, they could at once have been transported without any delay or difficulty. Neither the road nor the telegraph was cut or disturbed until the day after the evacuation of the city. If orders were sent to the Commissary Department, I presume they were intercepted or otherwise miscarried.
|Respectfully and truly yours,|
|(Signed)||Lewis E. Harvie.|
Baltimore, Md., July 7, 1873.
My Dear General—I have read carefully the statement you have submitted to the Hon. Jefferson Davis of the closing operations of the Confederate States Commissary Department, and I write to say that my recollection of the events of that troublous time entirely concurs with your own.
My duties as assigned by yourself gave me full knowledge of the effort inaugurated at that time to avail of the influence and labors of distinguished private citizens, and I distinctly remember that the results were such as you indicate. With the accumulation of supplies at the general depots I had no official connection, but I am quite convinced that the statements of yourself, Colonel Williams and Major Claiborne are entirely accurate.
|Very respectfully and truly yours,|
|(Signed)||T. U. Dudley, Jr.,|
|(Late) Major and C. S. C. S. Army.|
General I. M. St. John, (Late) Commissary-General C. S. Army.