HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
January 12, 1865.
TO THE FARMERS EAST OF THE BLUE RIDGE AND SOUTH OF JAMES RIVER:
The recent heavy fresher having destroyed a portion of the railroad from Danville to Goldsborough, and thereby cut off temporarily necessary supplies for the Army of Northern Virginia, an appeal is respectfully made to the farmers, millers, and other citizens to furnish, with all possible promptness, whatever, breadstuffs, meat (fresh or salt), and molasses, they can spare. Such citizens as Major Robert Tannahill may select are asked to act as agents in purchasing and collecting supplies through the various officers connected with the commissary department on the lines of railroad. Arrangements have been made to pay promptly for all supplies delivered under this appeal, or to return the same in king as soon as practicable.
R. E. LEE.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
January 16, 1865.
Honorable SECRETARY OF WAR,
SIR: I have inquired into the evils alleged to proceed from the contraband trade in North Carolina in the letter of Mr. Wilson, forwarded to the Department by the Honorable W. N. H. Smith and referred to me. I find that traffic is carried on to a large extent without authority, and that the effect are demoralizing in their tendency. I inclose a copy of a report of Captain George, assistant commissary of subsistence, to Major Morrison, commissary of subsistence at Goldsborough, and beg leave to call your attention to his suggestion as to the purchase or impressment of the cotton between the Chowan and Roanoke for the use of the Subsistence Department. If the contracts now existing be carried out to the extent anticipated, the Commissary of Subsistence Department will need large quantities of cotton, and I think that of the Department possesses the power it would be well to acquire that which is most conveniently situated for being used in the illicit trade. I also think it would be advisable to forbid cotton being brought east of the Roanoke, except by Government agents. I have issued an order forbidding the transportation of contraband articles across our lines, but the force available to compel the observance of the order and the slow forms of proceeding under the law to condemn such property when seized, render all efforts to restrain the illicit trade nearly abortive, unless a personal penalty be attached to it besides the confiscation now provided by law. I fear it can not be repressed. In view of the loss of the port of Wilmington for obtaining supplies, we should endeavor to make the traffic across the lines as productive as possible, and this illegal trade is very injurious to that conducted on Government account, besides its other bad effects.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,