WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A., Richmond, Va., December 4, 1862.
General R. E. LEE, Commanding:
GENERAL: Your three letters, two of the date of the 1st and the other of the 2nd instant, have been received. The Department regrets its inability at once to supply your call for arms and shoes for the army. Two thousand three hundred arms, including 1,000 sent the day of your call, have been forwarded, and the head of the Ordnance Department confidently expects to dispatch the balance of your requisition of 3,000 in a few days. I cannot so nearly approximate your demand for shoes; 600 all, that the Quartermaster-General had at immediate command, were at once forwarded, and I gave orders to obtain without delay, by impressment even, if necessary,all suitable shoes that could be found in the city. I have been, since assuming the duties of this Department, deeply impressed with the necessity of adequately providious the army with shoes, as also with blankets, of which I find there is a very inadequate supply, and I have authorized contracts (which, under less stringent necessity, I would not have tolerated) to provide, I hope, adequate supplies of both during the next two months. These supplies ought to begin to come on during the next two or three weeks, but the first received may of necessity be applied to the urgent necessity of one of our Western armies. The wants of your command, however, shall be kept in constant remembrance, and no means in my power shall be left unapplied to furnish you adequate supplies.
The Quartermaster-General gives me flattering assurance that, from domestic sources, through instrumentalities he has been arranging and has now brought into operation, he will from this time forth be more and more able to provide these indispensable articles, especially shoes. I trust it may so prove.
Your recommendations to give more efficiency to the cavalry force in your command, and, with this view, to make a general regulation, have been made the subject of conference with the President. Your views, as they were approved by my judgment,so they met his general concurrence; but he suggests a doubt whether, consistently with the engagements of the men and the observance of good faith with them the dismounted men of the cavalry, without their own consent, could be permanently disbanded and incorporated with the infantry, as it is supposed is contemplated in your suggestions, or the men in the infantry service, without like consent, be permanently assigned to cavalry.
Your purpose to form a corps of guards and couriers is fully approved, and the President regrets that it has not been in your power heretofore to have organized it. He is likewise satisfied that the detail and employment of cavalry as couriers for general and staff officers are injudicious, and should be stopped. This may be done by an order from yourself, or by a general regulation here, if you deem it advisable, before the formation of your contemplated corps of guards,&c.
I may have misapprehended your purpose of permanently transferring cavalrymen, when dismounted, to infantry organizations, and of detailing infantry to cavalry service without their consent; and if it can be managed without infringing on the implied contract, as the President conceives it, of the enlistment in the respective branches of the service, it would have concurrence and co-operation by an order of the Department.
In conclusion, I beg to invite your free communication to me of all