supply of meat. Nothing can be sent nearer to you than the Narrows and Jackson's River Depot, nor is it possible to furnish more transportation. Your last return shows a large quantity. I hope the grass will soon improve the condition of the stock. Would it not be best to send the unserviceable wagons and stock to the rear as soon as practicable?
I have directed every effort to be made to supply your wants. I know your difficulties. Mean time we must be as economical as possible. The quartermaster and assistant commissary of subsistence should look closely into their departments. Unless the quartermaster has a competent set of wagon-masters, who attend strictly to their duties, not even grain and hay can keep up the stock.
I hope to see you soon.
JOHN C. BRECKINRIDGE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, April 25, 1864.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 22nd instant, with reference to detailing men from this army.
I have no doubt that the reasons assigned by you will account to some extent for the fact of the excess of details from this over those from other armies. There is, however, another circumstances to which I think it worth while to call your attention, from which I think the applications for men in our ranks in some measure proceeds. I refer to the assignment to local duties of officers who reside at or near the place where those duties are to be performed. I have known instances of officers so assigned, when they required assistance, making application for the detail of men from the same neighborhood, friends or relatives perhaps, when it appeared to me that the aid required might easily have been obtained in some other way.
This army being composed of men from nearly every State, the number of calls upon it for details is, I think, much increased in this way, as there is scarcely an officer assigned to local duty anywhere that requires assistance who cannot find some friend or neighbor among our soldiers are not so disposed themselves they are operated upon by the solicitation of friends.
To prevent this I would respectfully suggest that when it is practicable officers should be selected for local service of the kind that is likely to require details from among those who are not residents of the place where that service is to be performed.
I think that the observance of this rule will not only relieve this army and all others to some extent, but secure a stricter attention to duty on the part of the officers themselves, who will be free from the temptation to neglect their business to which those are exposed whose families and friends reside at the place of their assignment.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,