HEADQUARTERS FIRST CORPS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Near Centreville, October 25, 1861.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.:
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a communication from the War Department, dated 19th instant, which, setting out with the assumption that an order of that Department had not been obeyed, calls for an explanation of the obstacles which have prevented "compliance with its orders," and in reply to which I have to state, for the information of the Department, as follows:
Although satisfied that there were no arms in the hands of troops of this corps not required that there ultimate wants of the several regiments to which they had been issued, that is, which would not be needed by the returning sick and recruits, I directed the acting inspector-general of the corps-a field officer-to look after these alleged surplus arms, which he has done, so far as was practicable, and thus far with the result anticipated; that is, no really surplus arms have been found.
The constant shifting of regiments, however, their incessant occupation with outpost duties, and the daily engrossing incidents and engagements of the service of this army corps at this time, in the presence of a powerful enemy, making the exacting of the order difficult, have led me not to give as much thought to this investigation as I might otherwise have done, and have perchance unduly diminished its importance in my mind. I shall, howere, detail another field officer to take up this investigation, and collect any arms he may find not in hands of men who require them. Meanwhile, in order that I may carry out the wishes of the Department as well as the letter of the orders in questions, permit me to ask whether it is designed that arms of the absent sick shall be sent Richmond or left to me (for my corps), to be disposed of under the existing practice; that is, according to the orders a copy of which I append.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,.
G. T. BEAUREGARD,
HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE, SECOND CORPS, A. P.,
Centreville, October 25, 1861.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War:
SIR: In reply to your letter [of 21st instant] informing me that I have been assigned to the command of "the Valley District of the Department of Norther Virginia," I have the express my grateful acknowledgment of the honor conferred, and my readiness promptly to comply with the order when received, though it separates me from the brigade which I had hoped to command through the war.
Availing myself of your kind offer to receive suggestions from m respecting the defense of that section of the State, I would, before visiting that region of the State, and ascertaining what troops, stores, and other means of defense are on hand, barely request that, if you have a good and available engineer officer, you would direct him to report to me, and that you will, as far as practicable, send me troops for the war, and keep the supplies, especially of arms, beyond the immediate wants of the forces. Men are more ready to volunteers when told that they can be immediately armed and equipped.