HEADQUARTERS WESTERN DEPARTMENT,
Bowling Green, January 12, 1862.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War:
SIR: Adjutant-General Whitthorne, of Tennessee has inclosed to me a copy of the order issued by Acting Assistant Adjutant-General Groner, directing that no twelve-months' volunteer company, battalion, or regiment shall be mustered into the service of the Confederate States unless armed, and also giving notice that General Carroll had been directed to muster out of service Colonel Gillespie's regiment.
Believing as I do that the public interest requires that the department over which you preside should fully comprehend the practical operation of this order, I beg leave to state the facts in the midst of which I have had to discharge the duties of a commander in raising forces to repel the threatened invasion.
Tennessee is generally sparsely populated. For this reason it is often impracticable to raise even whole companies in the same neighborhood; hence squads have sometimes to be transported to some common point to form a company. The people, too, are both unwilling and often unable to subsist themselves at their own expense after they have left their homes as volunteers and are awaiting organization and arms; nor will volunteers long remain together unless put under the control of law. This fact is attested by the experience of every one who has commanded volunteers.
For these reasons it was sometimes necessary to transport, subsist, and muster into service volunteers as they presented themselves. Neither the Confederate Government nor the State of Tennessee were in possession of public arms to put in the hands of the men, so as to make the arming and mustering in coincident. Indeed, in the great scarcity of public arms, the Legislature of Tennessee found it necessary to pass an act by which the private arms in the State could be impressed and afterwards paid for. The Governor of that State and myself conferred together upon the subject, and both concluded there was but one mode by which it was possible to get the volunteers and arm them, and I am happy to say that both the Governor and the Legislature of Tennessee have most zealously and patriotically co-operated with me.
These arms have been and still are being gathered in from the people. Those fit for use are at once put in the hands of organized volunteers, and those arms requiring repairs have been and are being repaired with all possible dispatch. Whilst this was going on the volunteers were being collected at the rendezvous for the purpose of being organized and armed.
These squads, companies, and battalions were not brought together as independent organizations, but with the distinct understanding and for the express purpose of consolidation, organization, and arming.
The Government thus secured their services; otherwise they could not have been procured, and the time between mustering in and arming was profitably employed in giving the men all practicable instructions in their duties as soldiers. This it will readily be perceived was quite as necessary to their efficiency in the field as placing arms in their hands.
If the mustering-in of these volunteers had been postponed in every instance till arms were ready to be placed in their hands or such regiments as had been mustered in without arms had been on that account mustered out of service and disbanded, we would to-day have been with