I inclose several blank authorities, to be filled up with the names of such agents or officers as Major Harman may select to obtain from the valley the leather reported to be there. Some I have signed and others go unsigned, as it is my impression that general orders, if not the law, require that all impressments made for the immediate use of an army shall be authorized by the commanding officers of the army or some detachment thereof. I hope that, through energetic and discreet agents, Major Harman may succeed in procuring large quantities of leather from the valley and other accessible points, and that your expectations in connection with it manufacture into shoes by the men available in camp may be fully realized. I will do all in my power to assit you. I have ordered a lot of shoemakers' tools just received at Mobile to be sent forward, and it may be that Major Dillard, at Columbus, Ga., will be able to spare some leather. I look for his report daily.
You desire to be informed in regard to the prospects for the future. As to the article of blankets, we are entirely dependent upon the foreign markets for our supply. There is not a solitary establishment within the limits of the Confederacy where they are made, nor is there one, since the destruction of Crenshaw's, at this place, by fire, that possesses the appliances for making them. In view of this, would it not be well to require the men to turn them in for reissue just as soon as approaching summer will justify, as at that season these articles are wasted? The Department is also, owing to the great scarcity of wool, somewhat dependent upon the receipts from abroad for the heavy woolen cloths essential for winter war. In the important item of shoes, I believe we are now laboring under our greatest difficulties, and that the coming spring will bring great relief. I do not allude so much to the relief incident to the season itself as that which will result from our increased resources. Besides the shoe establishment here, there are two other large ones in Georgia, at Columbus and Atlanta, and minor affairs at other points. Arrangements have been recently entered into for the introduction of machinery, which, with limited details, will enable two of these workshops to turn out 1,000 pairs of shoes each daily. Major Dillar has also in hand a very large number of hides that have been for some time in the vats, and which he reports will be available in the spring. A small portion of that material would relieve, if available now, the wants of the army.
In your letter of the 30th ultimo you remark that the army is in great distress for shoes and clothes, and that the requisitions sent in are unanswered. This carries with it, I think, some injustice to the Department. At the beginning of the present month the first consolidated requisition for supplies for the Army of Northern Virginia was received. Theretofore the practice had been to send partial requisitions, approved by the chief quartermaster, some time for divisions, sometimes brigades, and at other time for regiments even.
While all called for has not been sent, and that would be difficult to do, between our limited resources and the liberal character of the requisitions, surely the supplies forwarded, embracing thousands of pairs of shoes, blankets, and suits of clothing, must be have filled some of the requisitions. I will forward to you, at an early day, a report showing the extent of the issue made.
A. R. LAWTON,