RICHMOND, VA., February 6, 1865.
Honorable BENJAMIN H. HILL,
Senator, Macon, Ga.:
The commissioners have returned. They met Lincoln and Seward at Fortress Monroe; were informed that neither the Confederate States nor an individual State could be recognized as having power to enter into any agreement prescribing the conditions of peace. Nothing less would be accept than unconditional submission to the Government and laws of the United States, and that Congress had adopted a constitutional amendment for the emancipation of all the slaves, which disposed of that question.
HEADQUARTERS ARTILLERY CORPS,
February 7, 1865.
[Colonel A. H. COLE:]
COLONEL: Colonel Thomas H. Carter, the distinguished commander of General Early's artillery in the Valley during all the latter part of the late campaign, was here a few days ago, and conversed with me fully in relation to horses in the Valley. He mentioned a suggestion of Colonel Michael Harman, of Staunton, which he thought might be turned to good account, viz, that the worn-down horses of the Government might be turned over to citizens, and good horses impressed from the latter. Harman, besides having many horses on his farms, runs an extensive line of stages, and he expressed his willingness to share in the operation for the common good. Colonel Carter thinks quite a number of good artillery horses would thus be gotten in Augusta, Rockbridge, and other counties, and as illustrating the supply and the bad policy of leaving them unused, he told me that Sheridan had taken out of Rockingham County alone some 1,700 horses, notwithstanding all the previous drain of the war.
I conversed with General Lee on the subject, and he requested me to write to you as in charge of the horse business, and get you to do whatever might be practicable. Worn and feeble horses can, I think, be much better cared for by farmers, a few in one place, and as individual property, than by Government agents having charge of droves of them with no special interest in them, and horses however saved are now important to the country. It would even by better, I believe, to give the condemned horses to farmers and get good ones by impressment, than to consume so much of our scant stock of forage in the country in the public recruiting depots. The law provides, I think, for the sale of condemned animals, and this might furnish the authority for such arrangements in the premises as you deem best.
There are serious evils, some of them no doubt unavoidable, in the mode of getting to the rear condemned horses. They are accumulated in certain receptacles, until everything is ready for their removal. There little forage can be had and scarcely an attention can be given to particular animals, and the consequence is many die in those pens and the rest become more and more exhausted. I have again and again witnessed this.
The question of our horse supply is hardly second to that of supplying men for the army, or food for the men, and it is of great importance that all measures be adopted, both for keeping up the stock in the Confederacy, and for having strong teams in sufficient number for our