Now, as to the deduction from these facts, I would respectfully suggest that either by the voluntary act of the farmers, in county meeting assembled, or by law, as has been done to some extent in the article of meat, the negro ration of breadstuff be reduced to the same amount as that furnished by the Army, and that each farmer urge and encourage the production of roots and vegetables (the usual diet of the laboring class in other countries) to the greatest possible extent, for the supply and use, not only of his own hands, but for non-producers. By these means the surplus of breadstuffs would be vastly increased without any detriment to the profit or comfort of the farmer or his hands.
The late Congress authorized the "impressment of one-half the usual quantity of meat reserved by each producer for his own use. " This law, as far as I have been able to learn, was executed with but little if any dissatisfaction or difficulty, because believed to be necessary and uniform.
The suggestions made above are but another step toward putting the whole country upon rations, or a regulated allowance. Could this end be accomplished, I feel assured that your main difficulties would be removed.
Very respectfully, yours,
P. A. WELLFORD,
Captain and Assistant Commissary of Subsistence.
[FEBRUARY 24 and MARCH 2, 1865. - For correspondence between Lee and Vance, in relation to the disaffection of North Carolina troops, and Vance's action and recommendations with a view to inspire confidence and public spirit, see Series I, VOL. XLVII, Part II, pp. 1270, 1312.]
WAR DEPARTMENT, ENGINEER BUREAU,
Richmond, Va., February 27, 1865.
Hon. J. C. BRECKINRIDGE,
Secretary of War:
SIR: On recurring to the files of this Bureau I find that General Gilmer on the 11th instant estimated the amount needed for construction and repair of railroads for military purposes during the current year at $ 21,000,000, triplicate copies of which I have the honor to inclose. *
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. L. RIVES,
Colonel and Assistant to Chief Engineer.
AN ACT to provide for the employment of free negroes and slaves to work upon fortifications and perform other labor connected with the defenses of the country.
Whereas, the efficiency of the Army is at times greatly diminished by the withdrawal from the ranks of soldiers to perform labor and duties which can as well be done by free negroes and slaves:
The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That all free male negroes between the ages of eighteen and fifty years shall be held liable to perform any labor or discharge any duties