CONFEDERATE CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.
[FEBRUARY 2, 1862.- Requisition made by the Confederate authorities upon Texas for fifteen regiments "for the war." The requisition and resulting correspondence appear in Series, IV., Vol. I.]
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF TEXAS, Houston, Tex., February 5, 1862.
Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: I have the honor to transmit copy of instructions issued to the different commissaries of this department by the chief commissary of subsistence, by direction of the Commissary-General at Richmond.
I am inclined to believe that a strict compliance with these instructions will much trammel the operations of the Subsistence Department.
This military department is a large one and the posts far apart. The headquarters of the chief commissary are at San Antonio, and the general commanding, considering himself in the field, is obliged to establish his headquarters where he thinks his presence most needed, and at this time within striking distance of the seaboard,exposed at any moment to the attacks of the enemy. This necessarily must frequently, if not always, place the general commanding and chief of subsistence at different and distant stations.
The instructions require that receipts and certificates given by subcommissaries be approved by the commanding general, and then to be presented to the chief commissary of the department for examination and payment. This is very inconvenient. For instance, troops on the Rio Grande or at the distant frontier posts may run short of provisions. In this event the difficulty of purchasing supplies upon certificates, which, to be paid, would oblige the holders to first find the general commanding to get his approval,and then to repair to San Antonio to have these accounts examined and paid of refused payment, as the case may be, is very apparent.
The sub-commissaries report to me that it will be impossible to obtain supplies these difficulties, as parties selling would be unwilling to be put to the expense, trouble, and traveling involved in getting paid by the Government.
Besides, it imposes more or less commissary duties upon the general commanding in a department, were the duties are already very onerous on account of its vast geographical extent, the number of its posts, and one where, owing to many causes, the general commanding is obliged to almost create resources and means of defense.
Again,it subjects receipt and and certificates approved by the general commanding to the examination and approval of an inferior officer, the chief commissary of the department.
I would, in conclusion, respectfully remark that these instructions shift responsibility from the chief commissary and his assistant, disbursing officers,to the general commanding, who in most cases will be unable, especially at distant posts,to judge of the nature and necessity of supplies purchased by the different commissaries.
Respectfully calling the early attention of the Secretary of War to the subject of this communication, I have the honor to be, very respectfully, his obedient servant,
P. O. HEBERT,
Brigadier-General, P. A., Commanding Dept.of Texas.