section of country, and to endeavor to check the advance of General Burnside thorough East Tennessee into Southwest Virginia. General Burnside was checked, and I pushed my troops farther into East Tennessee and held that portion of country until, in the course of military operations, Lieutenant-General Longstreet came with his command east of Knoxville. The troops that I carried into East Tennessee are very essential to the defense of this department, and I never for a moment supposed that by moving them temporarily into that section of the country I thereby lost the command of them.
Lieutenant-General Longstreet has informed me, much to my surprise, that by authority, as the conceives, of the President he commands that portion of my troops that he found in East Tennessee.
If those troops have been placed under his command the order has never been communicated to me. I respectfully and most earnestly ask that all the troops I carried from this department to that be restored to my command. I shall be glad to use them, as I have heretofore done, to give all the aid in my power to the commander of the Department of East Tennessee, but if I am expected to protect this section of country and the important line of railroad passing through it I must have control of all my troops.
I may remind you that since I was assigned to the command of this department the Twenty-ninth, Fiftieth, Fifty-fourth, and Sixty-third Regiments Virginia Infantry, all of them large regiments, and all of Brigadier-General Marshall's command, including seven field batteries, have been taken from me, or rather from this department. After so heavy a draft on it I cannot think the War Department wishes to take from it the troops that I carried into East Tennessee to meet a temporary and pressing emergency.
May I ask an early answer to this?
With great respect, your obedient servant,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
January 18, 1864.
Brigadier General A. R. LAWTON,
Quartermaster-General, Richmond, Va.:
GENERAL: The want of shoes and blankets in this army continues to cause much suffering and to impair its efficiency. In one regiment, I am informed, there are only 50 men with serviceable shoes, and a brigade that recently went on picket was compelled to leave several hundred men in camp who were unable to bear the exposure of duty, being destitute of shoes and blankets. I have no doubt you are making every exertion in your power to supply our wants, but the condition of affairs makes me desirous to know the prospect for the future, as it is useless to bring more men into the field than we can equip for active duty. The supply by running the blockade has become so precarious that I think we should turn our attention chiefly to our own resources, and I should like to be informed how far the latter can be counted upon. I do not thin that we now receive enough shoes and blankets to supply those worn out or lost in service, so than the evil is increasing upon us. I desire to aid the Department in every was in my power. I think I can do so to advantage if the material for making shoes can be furnished me.