HEADQUARTERS LOCAL DEFENSE BRIGADE,
Chaffin's Farm, October 27, 1864.
Major T. O. CHESTNEY,
Headquarters Department of Richmond, Va.:
MAJOR: I have the honor to transmit herewith a list of men who have deserted from my command to the enemy since the 4th instant.* You will see by an inspection of the list that most of the men are mechanics, some of them workers in iron, of very great value to our Government. It is the opinion of many of the battalion and company commanders that most of the desertions are due to recent orders of the Adjutant and Inspector General's Office directing that certain classes of men heretofore exempt from military duty in the field, in which are included mechanics and others necessary tot he Government, in the several departments, shall be sent to the field. Pains have been taken to inform the men that hose necessary to the Government will not be sent to the field, and constant efforts are made to allow no intercourse with the enemy's pickets and to prevent men from deserting the picket-line, in which way most of the desertions occur; but desertions still continue at the rate of two or three class which has no interest in our cause, and who conditions of our people are subjected, and they would probably leave us upon every favorable opportunity. The orders referred to hereinbefore probably help their conclusions, and they now have the opportunity. I have deemed it my duty to put you in possession of these facts, and have the honor to be,
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. W. C. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF RICHMOND,
October 31, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded for the consideration of General Lee. We cannot spare these men from the front just now, but as soon as Virginia reserves in sufficient numbers arrive they ought to be released and returned to their labor (such as are left), where their services are important.
R. S. EWELL,
October 31, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded for the information of the Department. General Ewell has been informed that as soon as a sufficient force of reserves can be obtained to return these men to their shops.
R. E. LEE,
*List of forty-five names omitted.