to go away from Mobile, and to keep away, but the population has continued steadily to increase by natural and other processes, and my observation while at Vicksburg, and the history of the siege of Charleston, do not justify the expectation that non-combatants will go away before the enemy actually commences operations.
With regard to the ammunition, it is not in the Confederacy. I have omitted to means of procuring it. The Secretary of War has sent me assurances I shall have as much of it as possible. Yesterday the Chief of Ordnance telegraphed me to the same effect. During the time I have commanded this department, Mobile has been threatened several times and the subject of its defense has been fully laid before the authorities at Richmond. The force here must be greatly increased before it will be sufficient to hold the place against a besieging army. Supplies must be thrown in and the non-combatants be removed. To do these things it will be necessary to secure the use of the railroads and rivers; this I must look to you for.
I understand from Major Barnewall that he has received instructions from the chief quartermaster of your command relative to the quartermasters' stores which have been brought in by the ships.
An officer of my staff has just returned from Richmond, and reports to me that every effort will be made to fill my requisitions.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
DABNEY H. MAURY,
CONFIDENTIAL.] CAMP, ORANGE COURT-HOUSE, January 16, 1864.
Lieutenant General J. LONGSTREET:
GENERAL: Your letters of the 10th and 11th instant were handed to me by Captain Goree last night. I am glad that you are casting about for some way to reach the enemy. If he could be defeated at some point before he is prepared to open the campaign it would be attended with the greatest advantages. Either of the points mentioned by you would answer. I believe, however, that if Grant could be driven back and Mississippi and Tennessee recovered, it would do more to relieve the country and inspirate our people than the mere capture of Washington. You know how exhausted the country is between here and the Potomac. There is nothing for man or horse. Everything must be carried. How is that to be done with weak transportation on roads in the condition we may expect in March? You know better than I how you will be off in that respect in the west. After you get into Kentucky I suppose provisions can be obtained. But if saddles, &c., could be procured in time, where can the horses or mules be? They cannot be obtained in this section of country, and as far as my information extends not in the Confederacy. But let us both quietly and ardently set to work; some good may result and I will institute inquiries.
There is a part of your letter that gives me uneasiness; that is in relation to your position. Your cavalry, I hope, will keep you informed of any movement against you. After the completion of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad you will be able to retire with ease, and you had better be prepared in case of necessity. If the enemy follow, with the assistance of General S. Jones you may be able to