to which they belong, and that such of the infantry as are fit for mounted service, and can provide themselves with serviceable horses, may be, upon application, transferred to the cavalry. Besides giving us more men for service in the field, it will make the cavalrymen more careful of their horses, and urge them to greater exertions in procuring remounts.
At present many of the cavalry are detached from their regiments as couriers for general and staff officers of the army. Couriers are necessary for an army serving in the field, and I had hoped to supply the places of the cavalry by a corps of guides and couriers authorized to be raised by the President under the laws of Congress, to the command of which Colonel Richardson, of Virginia, has been assigned. This corps has not yet been brought into service, and I cannot now say when it will be; but if the general officers were authorized to mount a few men of their own commands to act couriers, and cavalry were prohibited by regulations from serving in the capacity, several hundred men would be returned to the ranks for their legitimate service. I think both of these objects can be better accomplished by a general regulation of the War Department (if it meets with your approval) than by special orders of the commanding generals, and therefore recommend that such be adopted.
I have the honor to be, with great respect,your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, December 2, 1862.
Hon. SECRETARY OF WAR, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: I have the honor to represent to you that there is still a great want of shoes in the army, between 2,000 and 3,000 men being at present barefooted. Many have lost their shoes in the long marches over rough roads recently made, and the number forwarded was insufficient to meet the necessities of the troops. I am informed that there is a large number of shoes now in Richmond, in the hands of extortioners, who hold them at an extravagant price.
The quartermaster of General Jackson's corps, in which there is the greatest want of shoes, received a proposition from a person in Richmond to furnish 1,300 pairs at $15 per pair. Whether these shoes are to be purchased at the prices demanded by the extortioners, or whether any plan can be devised for taking them at a fair price, I submit to your consideration; but I earnestly hope that some effectual means may be adopted to supply the wants of the army as speedily as possible, and avert the sufferings that threaten the troops during the approaching cold and wet weather.
I hope that the Quartermaster's Department will avail itself of every means to supply the present necessities of the men, and to meet the wants that will naturally arise, particularly if active operations continue during the winter. I also respectfully suggest that, in purchasing shoes, care should be taken to prevent imposition, as I am informed by the officers who received last forwarded that many of them were of a very inferior character, and unfit for service.
I am, with high respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
66 R R-VOL XXI