Southern Historical Society Papers/Volume 02/August/Resources of the Confederacy in February, 1865

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Resources of the Confederacy in February, 1865.

Continuing our publication of the confidential reports of the heads of departments in response to the circular of General Breckinridge, Secretary of War, we give next the


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Confederate States of America,
Subsistence Department,
Richmond, February 9, 1865.

Hon. John C. Breckinridge, Secretary of War:

Sir—In response to your circular of 7th instant, received yesterday, I have the honor to submit, for your consideration, the papers herewith enclosed with the following remarks:

During the past fifteen months it has been my duty to make many and most urgent representations to the War Department of the danger of want impending over the troops of the Army of Northern Virginia, and also of the stringent necessity (for the safety of Richmond, of the State of Virginia, and probably of the Confederacy), that accumulations of supplies should be made in this city.

The obstacles in the way of this, and the plans to surmount those obstacles, have been pressed repeatedly, and the needed requirements urged. In my communications and endorsements to the Secretaries of War and the Treasury, and to others, I have fully set forth these difficulties, as indicated by circumstances, and urged, with pertinacity, the adoption of measures to overcome them. The arguments used by me have been, in my judgment, incontrovertible, but have had little effect, and the army of Virginia has for several months suffered the consequence of their non-adoption, during which period it has been living literally "from hand to mouth." The other armies of the Confederacy have been differently circumstanced, and do not, for the present, so much suffer from local deficiency, or insufficient means of transportation.

During the whole of the year 1864, consumption has been much more rapid than collection, and accumulations already made, instead of being increased, were consumed. During the first three months of that year a larger amount of money (in "old issue") was turned into the treasury by the officers of the commissariat than was issued by it to them in the new, and since that time only a part of what was due has been paid. As a consequence, their indebtedness has become overwhelming until everywhere credit was lost, and supplies, which might have been obtained for the subsistence of the army, passed into other hands. The same state of affairs, to even a greater extent, exists now in the period of collection, and, as a consequence of the lack of money and credit, not one-fifth of the hogs which could have been secured, have been or will be obtained for the army. Supplies which had been purchased at the islands to bridge over to the incoming crop of meat, have not been brought in, and are not now available. Repeated orders for their shipment were without effect, and plans proposed by this bureau to secure that object have not been permitted, or have been frustrated by circumstances beyond the control of the bureau.

The retention of many thousands of prisoners of war in this city caused the consumption of our reserve of flour, deficient transportation preventing their entire subsistence on corn from the South as had been intended.

The supply of the Army of Northern Virginia requires special consideration, for the ravages of the enemy in the country in which it operates, have left not a full supply even for the non-combatants. Hence its bases of supply are very remote, and that supply must be contingent on the means of collecting in those remote localities an excess over the wants of the troops there operating.

This army is also sustained by various contrivances to draw supplies from beyond our lines by barter, and by secret arrangement, with the enemy turning on their anxiety to get cotton. For both these purposes funds and credit are both necessary, hence it is obvious that the subsistence of the army rests on a most precarious foundation.

The instant passage of the amendment to the Tythe Bill, and its active execution, the exercise of authority to impress teams along the line of roads to bring supplies forward, the furnishing of some coin, and sufficient funds to purchase articles of barter, and to pay for 4,000 bales of cotton immediately, and to purchase supplies throughout, the land, are all indispensable at this juncture.

It is also necessary that the management of the Danville and Piedmont Railroad shall be rendered efficient, and that we shall hold the southwestern counties of Virginia, and those in North Carolina lying adjacent. In that section of country arrangements have been instituted by Major Shelby, to send forward supplies to this army. This is especially important since the loss of East Tennessee, where operations had been set on foot of a most promising character.

I make no suggestions here as to the alternation of impressment and uniformity of prices on the one hand, or, on the other, of taxation so heavy as to compel the sale of supplies and prevent hoarding either by agriculturists or dealers. I have, under existing laws, given my judgment on these points to the Secretaries of War and the Treasury heretofore. I suppose these matters are now well matured in the minds of those whose business it is to deal with them. I, however, present my circular of 5th September, 1864, which could not be made effective by me.

The arrangements and organization of this bureau are believed to be complete, at least I cannot devise any more effective to glean the whole country. I would here suggest that officers of the "tax in kind" be directed to report no district "impracticable" until after conference with the Chief Quartermaster and Chief Commissary of the State in which it lies.

The only substitute for the system of this bureau is the contract system, which is impracticable, when the only competition existing is one between buyers anxious to convert depreciating currency into appreciating commodities. Moreover, contractors, having no certainty of sufficient transportation, or suitable employees, could not be relied on to fulfil their obligations.

This bureau system requires agents who are zealous, indefatigable, physically enduring, intelligent, acquainted with the laws and regulations of the bureau and possessing tact. They must have a personal interest in doing well, such as the alternative of serving advantageously, or being conscripted. Cripples and feeble men, cannot be made to work beyond what their feelings prompt, and exempts, with the requisite qualifications, can do much better for themselves in the employment of individuals, and, if they stay in the service, will not be controlled.

This bureau and its officers have been harassed, and their time (and that of the Secretary of War) consumed in vain in correspondence with the enrolling officers for necessary detailed employees, and in the consideration of applications of captains of companies for the return of their men so detailed.

If the chief of the bureau cannot be trusted to do all in his power to put men in the field consistently with his duty of feeding the army, then he had better be substituted by some one who can.

The ravages of the enemy destroying the fruits of the earth, the appliances for production and stock animals, persisted in by them in order to starve us, and to exclude us from all territory entered by them, is an impediment to subsistence, which I have (from their first experiment to test our endurance on this point) represented to be fatal, if permitted; but which can always be stopped by that side, when the necessity to check it becomes stronger than the stimulus to the atrocity.

The worst feature of the condition here is the deficiency of bread stuff, which is due to the failure of the War Department to enforce firmly a suggestion often made by me, for two years past, to stop all travel and private freight, and continue that expedient until our supplies were forwarded.

This was promised by the Secretary in January, 1864, but not tried until March, when it was eminently successful. Had this been fully carried out, an accumulation of corn in Georgia, ready for shipment, could have been stored here. Repeatedly has this been urged in vain, until now, the connection being broken by Sherman, places that supply beyond our reach. From the beginning of the war this bureau has had a policy in reference to the main principles necessary to effect the objects for which it was created.

1st. It has limited the number of officers to its actual needs. As an officer of the Provisional Army holds his appointment only while his services are needed, this bureau has claimed that when an officer proved to be unsuitable, he should be declared "relieved from all duty," and thereby out of commission. In this way only can so vast and complex a machinery be managed with the same economy and advantage as the business of a private individual. When excess of officers has occurred, it has been occasioned by appointments made independently of it and by assignments made without its knowledge.

2d. As this war would be necessarily conducted on and along railroad lines, these should be harmonized and kept up to their highest point of efficiency and capacity of repairs in road-bed and rolling stock. I therefore proposed a plan and expedients for obtaining this end. This subject requires instant attention.

3d. I have always had (and urged) general principles respecting the rapid conversion of funds into commodities, to the full extent of appropriation, the faster the better; and that funds should be furnished, if possible, irrespective of their apportionment in the ratio of time.

4th. A policy in respect to gathering stores from beyond our lines, and from exposed outlying districts.

5th. I have always maintained trading in cotton with the enemy, or through the enemy's ports, and the necessity of promptly meeting our engagements in cotton, with the liberty to make such contracts as the bureau should think expedient, all based on the supposition of being furnished with ample funds to procure the cotton needed.

Time, and repeated congressional investigations (on several subjects) have, in every case, vindicated the policy of this bureau.

I therefore claim to be competent to speak with information well based, and to affirm that, unless suitable men, unembarrassed by fears of removal (except for inefficiency), ample funds, and (for the present) coin in sufficient quantity to keep the army of Virginia in beeves (which being at present driven from beyond our lines can be obtained by coin alone) are furnished, and the means of transportation from the South increased, this bureau cannot perform its functions.

And this brings me finally to the inquiry you make as to the ability of a chief of this bureau to effect the purposes for which it was created. I observe, then, that, in my judgment, it cannot be done except under an administration of the other branches of service (whose operations underlie those of this bureau) different from the past. The treasury must supply funds as needed. Transportation must be found, both wagon and rail. Over neither of these subjects can this bureau exercise any control except by application to the treasury for the one, and to the Quartermaster Department for the other. This latter has its own supplies of forage to gather, and, as controlling transportation, its officers naturally serve that department first, especially in wagon transportation for hauling in from the country.

The Secretary of War must be a centre of unity to all the subordinate branches of his department. Had this been effectively acted on, it is probable that the supplies of this bureau now at the islands would have been brought in.

Without the appliances to buy, fabricate and transport, necessary results cannot be achieved, and where those appliances are not furnished in a measure commensurate with requirements the essentials of food must be first sought. And when the means to procure even these are not adequately supplied, then the distribution of that which is procurable must be proportionately restricted.

I illustrate by stating that the adherence of this bureau (under the embarrassments referred to) to the reduction of the meat ration, notwithstanding the urgent application of General Lee, has alone enabled it to furnish meat thus far. And, foreseeing the inevitable deficiency ahead, I asked the Secretary eight months ago to put the bread ration at one pound. He refused, and I did it on my own responsibility. This continued for some months, and General Lee at length urgently applied for increase. The Secretary of War also pressed it. I refused unless positively ordered in the face of my declaration that it was absolutely necessary to keep it at that point, without due funds and improved transportation from the South. On 14th December, I recommended the reduction by general order, and he then reluctantly assented. Without this proceeding on my part, this army would absolutely have been destitute. I mention this fact to exhibit the straits to which this bureau was driven, under the embarrassments referred to above.

Very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
(Signed)L. B. Northrop,


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memorandum of papers herewith enclosed.

[1]1. Statement of contracts for supplies from enemy's lines since December 1st, 1863, made by Major B. P. Noland, Chief C. S. for Virginia.
2. Circular of Commissary-General of date September 5, 1864, with remarks.
3. Statement of meat en route to Richmond, prepared by Major S. B. French, C. S. with remarks of Commissary-General.
4. Statement of bread stuff en route to Richmond, prepared by Major S. B. French, C. S.
5. Report of Captain J. M. Strother, A. C. S. of financial operations of Subsistence Bureau since January 1, 1864.
6. Letter from Major James Sloan, Chief C. S. for North Carolina, of 8th February, 1865.
7. Telegram from Major R. J. Moses, Chief C. S. forGeorgia, dated Augusta, February 7, 1865.
8. Letter of Major J. J. Walker, Chief C. S. for Alabama, of date 25th January, 1865.
9.Letter of Major James Sloan, Chief C. for North Carolina, of date 2d February, 1865.
10. Report on supply of salt.
11. Report on supply of beeves.
12. Report on Government Fisheries.
13. Letter of Major French, of January 12, 1864, as to difficulties of transportation.
14. Letter of Lieutenant-Colonel Ruffin, of February 11, 1865, as to contracts.}}

enclosures in report from bureau of subsistence.

No. 1—[Withdrawn from the file, probably before the Government left Richmond.]

(No. 2.)

Bureau of Subsistence, Richmond, February 13, 1865.

This paper is respectfully referred for the information of the Hon. Secretary of War in connection with report of Commissary-General of 9th instant.

(Signed)L. B. Northrup, C. G. S.

(Copy of printed extract from printed circular.)

{{fine block|XIV. When enacting laws for impressment Congress could not have expected impressing officers as a class to be competent to settle the meaning of the words "value or just compensation," since jurists and political economists have been unable to determine on a definition or principle of ascertaining the just value of an article. Under these circumstances, Congress enacted that commissioners jointly chosen by the Confederate and State Executives should at intervals fix the value of commodities, as the best mode of settling what was just compensation, and thus fulfilling the constitutional requirement in cases of impressment. The schedules fixed by these boards for the respective States monthly, were objected to by certain parties, and the objection sustained on the ground that value at the time of the impressment could not be determined by rates fixed anteriorly; consequently, in any case of impressment, whether of property in the hands of speculators or producers, the appraisment by neighbors selected by both parties is required, and either party, if not satisfied with the award, can appeal to the joint commissioners. In cases where one-half of the meat, which a party had secured for the subsistence of those dependent on him, was impressed, in accordance with the law promulgated in General Orders No. 39, the necessity of promptly supplying him with an equivalent, settled the principle that just compensation required the local cost of the article; and such appraisement by neighbors, mutually selected, was made final, without appeal.

Whenever the local appraisement of a man's surplus exceeds the price fixed by the last schedule of the commissioners in the State by an amount more than to be understood by any superiority of the special articles to the ordinary standard, and no extraordinary changes in the condition of the country have occurred since the last schedule was fixed, then the impressing officer is advised to appeal from the local appraisement to the commissioners, as the legally appointed tribunals to settle value, and as, in the order of reason, the most competent, they having been constantly studying the circumstances, which might modify conclusions on this mooted question.

When a party refuses to give information to an impressing agent who exhibits his credentials, the officer shall apply to the officer in charge of the nearest reserve organization, who will be required to enable him to examine into the stock of supplies in the possession of the party refusing information.

When notice of impressment has been given, and the business is only awaiting settlement, if the holder, instead of retaining it for the Government, refuses to deliver it, or disposes of it otherwise, then the same reserve force shall be invoked, and the impressed property seized, or an equal quantity taken from the party on the ground that he has not alienated what was the Government's, but what he considered his own.

Officers will proceed to impress all the surplus available as rapidly as they can.  *   *  Bonded agriculturists are as much in the service as they would have been if not conditionally exempted.

Whenever one of these is found bartering any of his supplies, or selling to any other than the Government, or the families of soldiers, or at rates other than those prescribed, or is not strictly devoting his whole attention to the production of supplies, evidence of the fact must be at once furnished to the appropriate enrolling officer, and the name of the party, and the enrolling officer, sent to the Bureau of Conscription. The district attorney shall be furnished with the information preliminary to a prosecution of the offender on his bond. Officers will also ascertain from the bonded farmers with whom they deal, the amount of meat they have contracted to deliver, and how much surplus subsistence they have, and see that one-half goes to the Government.

The Secretary of War will direct that the order to the enrolling officers and commandants of reserves be given; also that directions to the district attorneys be sent to prosecute promptly all who have not fulfilled the terms of their bond.

If any man liable to military service, who has not been detailed or exempted from such service for any purpose whatever, is found engaged in speculation in articles of army subsistence, or engaged in any other business prejudicial to the interests of the Government, it is your duty, as one of its officers, promptly to report him.

(Signed)L. B. Northrup, C. G. S.
(Signed)J. A. Seddon,
Secretary of War.

(Circular Subsistence Bureau, 9th September, 1864.)}}

So far as this circular treats of impressment &c., and its bearing on the treasury and on this bureau, the subject was brought by me to the attention of Mr. Trenholm, last summer, and it was urged that Government should make it a subject of instant consideration, that the alternative was then before us of unlimited exaltation of prices and destruction of the currency, or of sustaining the views set forth. To enforce these, I wrote this circular, showed it to him, and again maintained that the law of impressment being sustained by no penalty, the Government, having been entrusted with its execution, had the duty of enforcing it, there being no alternative but to call Congress to act in a matter vital to the currency and the subsistence of the army.

(Signed)L. B. Northrup, C. G. S.

Bureau of Subsistence, Richmond, February 12th, 1865.}}

(No. 3.)

Statement of Meat en route to Richmond.

From Charleston, through blockade: rations.
2,018 cans meats, 72 pounds, 145,296 290,592
1,105 barrels pork, 200 pounds, 221,000 663,000
439 tierces beef, 304 pounds, 133,456 266,912
casks bacon, 600 pounds, 29,400 88,200
From Georgia:
60,000 pounds bacon 180,000
From Weldon, North Carolina:[2]
80,000 pounds bacon. 240,000
At Greensboro':
4,000 pounds pork 12,000
500 boxes, 36,000 pounds, meat 72,000
At Richmond:
30,000 pounds pork 90,000
En route from interior:
25,000 pounds pork 75,000
From Georgia, contingent upon communications being preserved:[3]
200,000 pounds bacon 600,000
Total number of rations as at present advised 2,577,704

{{fine block|Note by the C. G. S.—The very large importation before the war, into the South, of meats, soap and candles, rendered it obvious, in view of a long war, that all of these must be scarce; hence was adopted the saving of grease by every means, and dripping of lye and making soap and candles was instituted at ports and directed in camp when practicable; and in 1862 arrangements to import soap, candles, coffee and tea from abroad were made, and all the sugar possible collected on both sides the Mississippi and brought to this side. It is due to these arrangements that there has been any supply of these commodities and that the hospitals have been supplied and that the soldiers of the army have had a small allowance of coffee and sugar to help out the diminished ration.

When corn was plenty in the summer of 1862, arrangements were made in Georgia for a sufficient supply of whisky for issue under circumstances of exposure and fatigue and for conversion into vinegar, which had to be manufactured by this bureau. The impossibility of private individuals getting barrels excluded the collection of vinegar to any extent from household and private contractors.

The opposition of the Legislature of Georgia prostrated this plan. Similar opposition in other States, and the growing deficiency of funds even for the purchase of the essentials of food, has rendered it impossible to get an adequate supply; but it has been furnished, to a considerable extent, nevertheless.

Want of barrels, coopers and money has prevented the collection of sorghum to the extent intended as a substitute for sugar and meat.

This bureau has allowed no contract for the conversion of any grain fit for consumption by man or beast to be converted into liquor within this State, and necessity has, therefore, compelled the impressment of apple brandy, but in very limited quantities.

(Signed)L. B. Northrup, C. G. S.

This paper is respectfully referred for the information of the Honorable Secretary of War, in connection with report of Commissary General of 9th instant.

(Signed)L. B. Northrup, C. G. S.

Subsistence Bureau, February 13th, 1865.

(No. 4.)

Statement of Bread Stuffs en route to Richmond.

At Charlotte Junction, 470 sacks, 940 bushels corn 47,000
At Greensboro', North Carolina, 2,840 sacks, 5,680 bushels corn 284,000
At Greensboro', 270 bags flour 27,000
From Florence, South Carolina, 4,000 bushels corn 200,000
From Augusta, Georgia, 400 sacks flour 40,000
From Charleston, South Carolina, 2,000 bushels corn 100,000
From Greensboro', North Carolina, 400 bushels wheat 20,000
Reported by Major H. Crunston, Augusta, Georgia, as purchased by him along Savannah river, near Augusta, 80,000 bushels corn 4,000,000
Reported by Major A. M. Allen, Columbus, Georgia:
On hand January 2d, 80,000 bushels corn 4,000,000
Number of rations 8,718,000

Note.—Major Isaac Shelby, Jr., in Southwest Virginia, reports his ability to procure 100,000 bushels corn and wheat in that section and East Tennessee, if money and transportation be provided.

About 500,000 pounds of sugar and large quantities of rice, ordered from South Carolina, a portion of which is now en route to Richmond.

full rations.
In depot at Richmond, 30,000 pounds coffee 500,000
In depot at Richmond, 42,000 pounds sugar 350,000

(Signed)S. B. French,
Major and Commissary Subsistence.

This paper is respectfully referred for the information of the Hon. Secretary of War, in connection with report of Commissary General of 9th instant.

(Signed)L. B. Northrup, C. G. S.

Bureau of Subsistence, February 13, 1865.

(No. 5.)

Confederate States of America,
Subsistence Department,
Richmond, February 9th, 1865.

Colonel L. B. Northrup, Commissary-General C. S. A.:

Colonel—I respectfully submit the following report of the financial operations of this bureau since January 1st, 1865. Requisitions have been made for $20,000,000, as follows:

For purchases in Virginia $4,700,000 00
For purchases in North Carolina 1,600,000 00
For purchases in South Carolina 600,000 00
For purchases in Georgia 6,900,000 00
For purchases in Mississippi 1,250,000 00
For purchases in Alabama 1,000,000 00
For purchases in Florida 280,000 00
For Army of Northern Virginia direct 2,000,000 00
Remainder for hospitals, &c., including $600,000 for Camp Lee, for commutation of returned prisoners expected 1,670,000 00

The amount of requisitions answered at the treasury since 1st January in currency, is $15,000,000, as follows:

For Major R. Tannahill, Southeastern Virginia $2,500,000 00
For Major R. J. Moses, Georgia 4,000,000 00
For Southwestern Virginia 2,000,000 00
For this Bureau 1,000,000 00
For Major R. W. N. Noland, Northeastern Virginia 750,000 00
For North Carolina 800,000 00 | For South Carolina 800,000 00
For Alabama 900,000 00
For Mississippi 800,000 00
For Tennessee (Bristol) 500,000 00
Remainder for hospitals, tobacco and the miscellaneous service of the department 950,000 00

The money to meet these drafts has not been furnished, and probably not more than one-sixth of this amount in available funds has been furnished. For example, of the $2,000,000 for Southwest Virginia, there are drafts here for collection for considerably above half. In North Carolina most of the officers have funds to their credit, which they could not obtain, and hence it was useless to add to an idle balance.

I am, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
(Signed)John M. Strother,
Captain and A. C. S.


Bureau of Subsistence,
Richmond, February 13, 1865.

This paper is respectfully referred, for the information of the Honorable Secretary of War, in connection with report of the Commissary-General of 9th instant.

(Signed)L. B. Northrup, C. G. S.

(No. 6.)

Office Chief Commissary of North Carolina,
Greensboro', 8th February, 1865.

Major S. B. French, C. S., Richmond, Virginia:

Major—Herewith I hand semi-monthly statement of subsistence stores on hand in the State on 31st ultimo. Pork and bacon commences to come in very freely in the eastern counties, but for the want of funds our officers and agents are greatly hindered in purchasing and collecting the same. With money in hand to purchase, they could secure large supplies.

I am, Major, very respectfully,
Your most obedient servant,
(Signed)James Sloan,
Major and Chief Commissary.

(No. 7.)

Telegram from Major R. J. Moses, having relation to present contingency.

(Signed)Northrup, C. G. S.

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Augusta, Georgia, February 7, 1865.

Colonel L. B. Northrup:
Shipments not allowed on South Carolina road. Sending stores to Washington. As I have no means of shipping, I will reduce prices down to the schedule soon. Leave to-day for Washington, to arrange warehouse room. Return here Wednesday.

I have no idea that Lee's army can get anything from here.

(Signed)R. J. Moses,
Major and Chief C. S. for Georgia.


(No. 8.)

Office Chief Commissary for Alabama.
Mobile, 25th January, 1565.

Colonel L. B. Northrup, Commissary-General, Richmond, Virginia:

Colonel—On the 15th of December, Major French dispatched me that the Secretary of War had authorized payment of local value for all supplies delivered before the 1st of February, and that money would be forwarded.

On the authority of this dispatch, I issued an appeal to the planters, urging immediate delivery of their surplus, promising that the first deliveries should be first paid, and stating that I had the highest official assurance that the funds would be promptly remitted.

The appeal failed to produce any effect, because the people did not believe it. They no longer credit any promise made by Government officials, and I regret to say that this effort only confirmed their incredulity, as the funds were not forwarded.

I am fully aware that you have done all in your power to procure funds, and I dislike to annoy you on the subject, but the district commissaries urge the matter so strongly upon me, that I again call your attention to the helpless condition in which we are placed for want of funds. To show how much we have lost in the past, and how hopeless is the prospect for the future without funds, I make the following extract of a letter just received from Major Guy at Montgomery. *****

"0ur present indebtedness is no less than two millions of dollars. I am entirely destitute of credit, and therefore can procure nothing without money, as the fruitlessness of the recent appeal to the planters, as suggested by you, fully testifies. And I am now without a dollar for hospital or any other purposes; cannot even pay off the employees of the office, and believe that my receipt of stores in the last ten months have been cut short, say, 200,000 pounds bacon, 1,500 head beeves, 10,000 bushels wheat, and other articles in proportion, to say nothing of 12,000 head pork hogs, which I think could have been procured for slaughter in the district, if I had been furnished with money. The new bacon crop will be large, but cannot be controlled without money. There is now about $4,000,000 due on my requisitions for the two last quarters 1864, and my estimate for the present quarter has not yet been acknowledged."

These remarks apply with equal force to the Mobile district, and in great measure to the other districts in the State.

The case may be briefly stated: the Government has lost the confidence of the people, and can get no further credit from them, and without money your Department must inevitably break down.

It is not probable that the authorized issues of the Treasury will even be sufficient to pay past indebtedness and cover future purchases, but the people would be satisfied if the certificates of indebtedness held by them to a certain period were made receivable in payment of taxes, and then all funds received by disbursing officers could be used for future purchases.

Is such a measure feasible, or is there any near prospect of relief from the present extreme and dangerous embarrassment touching the subsistence of our armies?

Very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
(Signed)John J. Walker,
Major and Chief C. S. Alabama.

P.S.—I beg to offer the suggestion that the authority given by the Secretary of War to pay local value till 1st February, be extended indefinitely, or at all events until the new Macon crops is disposed of.

(No. 9.)

Office Chief Commissary of North Carolina,
Greensboro', 2d February, 1865.


Colonel L. B. Northrup, Commissary-General, Richmond, Virginia:
Colonel— *   *   *  "My officers are without funds, and their efforts to secure subsistence are paralyzed in consequence of same. Producers are refusing to sell even at market prices, because they say the Government will not pay. Something should be done by the Treasury Department to meet the drafts which have been passed to their credit at the depository at Raleigh, but for which not one cent has been sent forward to meet same. Outside purchasers have money, and are buying largely, while our officers and agents have to take a back seat and await the arrival of funds."  *   *

(Signed)James Sloan,
Major and Chief C. S.

(No. 10.)

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The supply of salt has always been sufficient, and the Virginia works were able to meet the demand for the army; but in view of the possible loss of the Country in which they are situated, arrangements were made at the beginning of the war for its supply in different States of the Confederacy, and the supply thus obtained has enabled us to use, for the purpose of barter, a large quantity received from the Virginia works.

The mine in Louisiana, and the works in Georgia, have been lost by the movements of the enemy.

The contract made with Messrs. Stuart, Buchanan & Co. was for 45,000 bushels per month in excess of the estimated demand for the army. This was made in view of the foreseen deficiency of money to obtain meat, by supplying salt for barter. After the contract was made and approved by the Honorable Secretary of War, he, in spite of my remonstrances, and, in my judgment contrary to the interests of the Government, annulled it. Believing this to be unjust and prejudicial to the interest of the Government, I refused to take any action in the matter, and he then assumed the making of a contract with the State of Virginia, which I had considered and declined to make. Respectfully,

(Signed)L. B. Northrup,
Commissary-General C. S. A.


(No. 11.)


The sources from which beeves in large numbers were to be gotten were Texas and Florida, and complete arrangements were made for securing a supply from both States, and large numbers have been obtained from both, together with a large quantity of pickled beef from Texas. Arrangements were made in 1862-3, to bring cattle from those States and put them on the grass lands of Virginia and Tennessee, but the long drive, want of good grass on the way, caused the attempt, which was made with a few droves, to fail.

Some thousands of beeves have been obtained within the past few months by swimming the Mississippi, and when the river is again in a suitable state and the season admits of it, the proceeding should be continued. From Florida many have been obtained, and the plans and means to continue the supply are complete. Twenty thousand more are expected. The marvellous accounts of the hundreds of thousands of beeves in Florida are believed to be idle, as this bureau has received accurate information of the number.

The operations of the enemy may, however, defeat our expectations, but it is proper that the War Department should have this source in view. Respectfully,

(Signed)L. B. Northrup,
Commissary-General C. S. Army.

(No. 12.)

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While recognizing the possibility that our fisheries would be destroyed by the enemy, it was still deemed advisable to establish them on our coasts and bays.

Accordingly, they were arranged in a number of places on the rivers of Virginia and North Carolina, on the Gulf coast, and at Mobile, and have afforded a supply of fish both fresh and salt.

As was anticipated, they have been frequently interrupted by the movements of the enemy, and many of them entirely broken up.

Much may be expected from those in Florida, if unmolested, and from them some results may yet accrue.

Respectfully,L. B. Northrup,
Commissary-General C. S. A.


(No. 13.)

Bureau of Subsistence,
Richmond, January 12th, 1864.

Colonel L. B. Northrup, C. G. S.:

Colonel—Herewith I beg leave to submit for your consideration the following extracts from letters and telegrams received at this bureau from officers of this department in relation to the collection and shipment of corn from the Southern States:


December 16th, 1863—Major Allen, Columbus, Georgia: "Shipping slowly for want of transportation. Have received eight cars per day. Will now go forward more promptly."

December 18th—Major Love, Charlotte, North Carolina: "Shipped one car load corn to-day."

December 19th—Captain Francis, Augusta, Georgia: "Seven car loads went forward last night. Seven car loads remain. Will go forward as soon as possible."

December 19th—Captain Cunningham, Macon, Georgia: "Fifteen car loads corn leave here to-day by 'special messenger;' more on the way; will be forwarded on arrival."

December 23d—Captain Francis, Augusta, Georgia: "Twenty-five (25) car loads corn here will be shipped to-morrow." Cause of delay reported in letter as follows: "But one line of railroad from Augusta, over which two passenger trains per day are run, and no freight train on Sunday."

December 24—Captain Francis: "Quartermaster has promised to ship fifty-six car loads corn this week."

December 29—Captain Francis: "Four thousand three hundred and sixty sacks corn left yesterday for Commissary Department in Virginia, 1,254 sacks leave to-morrow."

December 26—John S. Cole, Special Messenger: "Thirteen car loads corn for Commissary Department detained here six days waiting transportation."

February 8, 1865—"Unless transportation is increased much subsistence will be lost in Charlotte, N. C."

E. M. Love, Major and C. S.

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December 19—Major Love, Charlotte, North Carolina, advises that he had "shipped two car loads of his own corn," and that "three car loads belonging to Commissary Department await transportation."

December 18—Major A. M. Allen, Columbus, Georgia, states that "he has invoiced 40,000 bushels corn to Quartermaster at Macon," and has "sent competent parties to put it through. Great difficulty in procuring cars from Augusta. Fifteen car loads corn went forward last night from Americus for Major Claiborne. Fifteen loaded will go to-day from Montgomery and Marshalville. Shipped to-day 1,000 sacks to Major Claiborne. On the twentieth will ship 2,000 sacks more from here; also shipped 1,000 bushels peas to Major Claiborne."

December 16—Major Allen: "Transportation agents lean to Quartermaster and not to Commissary Department. Have arranged for eight cars per day, &c."

December 29—H. Cranston, Augusta, Georgia: "From 21st to 28th instant, 4,888 sacks corn went forward."

From the foregoing you will note that the movement of corn for this department has been large and continued actively during the month of December, yet I am compelled to announce the surprising and unaccountable fact that, notwithstanding the shipment enumerated, this department has received no corn from the South during the last thirty days.

This condition of affairs has left us without any supply for the daily wants of the troops in this State, to say nothing of the necessity of reserving flour to be converted into hard bread for active movements during the spring campaign, which, under existing circumstances, is impracticable, as our limited stock of flour on hand will be entirely consumed to meet immediate wants, and with little or no prospect of further accumulations this season. Foreseeing from the shortness of the wheat crop of 1863, that sufficient flour could not be collected for our wants during 1864, I addressed you a letter on the 3d September last, in which the need of corn was stated, and showing that a deficiency of nearly 50,000 bushels existed between the amount shipped by Major Allen, at Columbus, Georgia, and that received by Major Claiborne, at Richmond, which up to this time has never been accounted for.

Early in December I advised you that we were not receiving corn enough for the wants of General Lee's army, regardless of other and equally pressing demands upon us for subsistence, and stating that there was an ample supply of corn in the country, if it were rendered available, by reforms in the management of transportation.

On the 17th December I again addressed you a letter, stating that the receipts of grain in Virginia were reduced to nothing, and that we must rely wholly upon the South for our supplies, and recommending that Captain Welford be sent to Georgia to expedite matters, and that the Secretary of War give precedence in transportation to supplies for this department while the emergency existed. Captain Welford proceeded to Georgia, and the activity that succeeded his efforts in that State can be viewed in the large movement of grain towards Augusta, which seems to have been "swallowed up" somewhere between that point and Richmond, for we have but little trace of it.

On the 9th instant I advised you that all the corn arriving here was waybilled to Major Maynard, and was being appropriated by the Quartermaster Department without regard to the marks which indicated that it was destined for the Subsistence Department, there being no other method under existing regulations of distinguishing it, and on the same date (9th January) urging that it was of vital importance that there should be an immediate reduction in the number of passenger trains, so that the railroads could give their full capacity to the movement of freight trains, which, if not increased, it seemed to me impossible that our armies in this State could be fed.

I have been thus particular in giving a partial review of the operations of this department in relation to the collection of bread-stuffs, that it might be seen that the difficulties of collecting grain were fully appreciated, and could not be removed while our railroads failed to transport Government supplies in preference to increasing their receipts by running two passenger trains per day.

The wants of the department in this State have been fully made known to Major A. M. Allen, C. S., at Columbus, Georgia, who replied that the amount of corn required, 75,000 bushels per month, could be furnished by him; and nothing remained in the way of our success but the obstacle of "transportation," which, if the proper steps be taken, I feel assured that our condition can be immeasurably improved.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
(Signed)S. B. French,
Major and C. S.

P.S.—Since writing the foregoing, a report has been received from the Chief Commissary of Alabama, dated January 4th, 1864, in which the supply of corn and peas is stated to be "abundant."}}


Richmond, January 17th, 1864.

Only 1,000 bushels of the corn referred to has arrived to this date, and the receipts at this place compared with the invoices from Columbus, Georgia, show a deficit of between eighty and ninety thousand bushels, 50,000 bushels of this quantity having been shipped since December 1st, 1863.

(Signed)S. B. French.


Respectfully referred to Secretary of War in connection with my report of the 9th. Many instances have occurred during the year and reports made on them, now on record. Only recently, stores were burnt at Charlotte, because not removed; between here and Wilmington recently there have been great delays in moving supplies, and the stores now at Charlotte are liable to loss for want of transportation.

(Signed)L. B. Northrup, C. G. S.

(No. 14.)

Bureau of Subsistence,
Richmond, February 11, 1865.

Colonel L. B. Northrup, C. G. S.:

Sir—In response to, your query as to the contracts made in this bureau for supplies from abroad, I have to state, generally, what I have elaborated recently at some length in written testimony to a joint committee of both houses of Congress, that all the contracts that I have made have failed for various reasons. At this time I understand that the Bureau has no power, under a recent order, to make contracts for supplies payable in cotton in the Department of Alabama, Mississippi and East Louisiana.

Very respectfully,
(Signed)Frank G. Ruffin,
Lieutenant-Colonel and C. S.

Foreign Supplies.

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Bureau of Foreign Supplies,
Richmond, Va., February 9, 1865.

General John C. Breckinridge, Secretary of War:

General—I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your circular of the 7th instant, asking for "a succinct and clear statement of the means and resources on hand for carrying on the business of my bureau, and what impediments exist, and what is necessary for success."

Under the orders of the War Department, I have been charged with the purchase, repairing, compressing and shipment of cotton for the Government, the proceeds of said shipment passing into the Treasury, and subject to requisition of the several bureaux and departments of the Government, with the purchase and receipt of foreign supplies to be paid for in cotton, and, incidentally, with most of the foreign correspondence of the War Department.

The cotton on hand, and that which may be purchased with $15,000,000, estimated and asked for through the Secretary of War, together with the usual transfers through the Treasury Department, and, if required, that to be procured by requisition through the several bureaux of the War Department, will be sufficient to make all purchases of supplies for the War Department, and shipments for the Treasury Department, through the blockaded ports.

The fall of Fort Fisher, and the loss of Wilmington as a port, will diminish the receipt of supplies and shipment of cotton through the blockaded ports. The quantity of these supplies and shipments cannot be approximated, because it will depend upon the number of ports held by us and the effectiveness of the blockade. The Secretary of War has, upon my application, directed the attention of the Engineer Bureau to Georgetown, South Carolina, to see if it can be so protected with guns and works as to secure the safety of vessels entering and departing. The Secretary of the Navy has directed his officers to render aid in protecting vessels coming into Saint Marks, Florida. The matter is of such importance now, I think, as to justify the department in assigning a good engineer officer to the special duty of examining that other ports or inlets may be made available, with power immediately to provide whatever is necessary for the protection of vessels entering them.

The introduction of supplies, and providing vessels with cotton at such ports and inlets remote from railroads, will require the hearty co-operation of the Quartermaster's Department in furnishing transportation. With protection to the vessels, and transportation to provide cotton and remove supplies, these ports and inlets will be availed of to the utmost extent, and will, I trust, insure considerable success. Within the last few months the question has been much discussed whether cotton should be used across the enemy's lines to procure through their lines coin for the Treasury and supplies for the army. The question being settled affirmatively, John S. Wallis, Esq., was placed on the general duty within the department of Lieutenant-General Taylor, purchasing all necessary supplies, to be paid for in cotton, and delivering the same to the officers of the various bureaux for distribution. Intimations have been recently given of the early delivery of large supplies of meat, shoes, blankets, &c., along the Atlantic coast, and in Alabama, from Pensacola.

I think the trade should be limited to supplies indispensable to the army. In close connection with the sale of cotton for supplies, the Honorable Secretary of the Treasury is selling for coin, and there is entire accord and co-operation between the War and Treasury Departments in these transactions. The cotton required for purchase of supplies can be provided from the sources already named.

In conclusion, I beg leave to say that, unless the trade across the enemy's lines is prohibited, I think all general supplies, such as meat, shoes, blankets, &c., can be obtained. Articles specifically contraband under Federal Treasury regulations will have either to be smuggled in through the trade, or introduced by extraordinary inducements along the Atlantic and Gulf coast. Arrangements are already in progress to secure lead, saltpetre, sheet copper, leather, &c., along the Florida coast.

In view of these facts, I would respectfully recommend that proper guns and works be placed at Georgetown, South Carolina, at the mouth of the Santee river, and at Saint Marks and Apalachicola, Florida; that an engineer officer be designated to examine other inlets or places on the coast where vessels may enter, and to provide protection for them; that the Quartermaster-General be instructed to direct his officers to furnish transportation for cotton and supplies when called upon by the agents of this bureau.

I have the honor to be,
Very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
Thos. L. Bayne,


  1. Missing. Probably withdrawn before evacuation of Richmond.
  2. This bacon was received under contract for delivery of cotton in exchange. Considerable receipts are expected from this source if cotton be promptly furnished and transportation for same provided.
  3. Large supplies, contingent upon money and transportation, expected from this State.


    L. B. Northrup, C. G. S.