the Department in relation to them. The contract were course made reluctantly, but under a strong conviction of the necessity of resorting to such means of obtaining adequate supplies, especially of shoes and blankets, for the army.
When I assumed direction of this Department I fold that internal respourences of supplies for these articles has either not been judiciously managed or were deficient; that of late export from abroad had been so interrupted by several captures by the enemy as to render that mode of supply too precarious for reliance, and actual suffering was being experienced by the Army of Northern Virginia, in Tennessee, and I was informed by an officer of General Price's staff, them visiting Richmond, in the Southwestern Army likewise, from the want of Adequate supplies of such articles.
Resolving that the armies were to be maintained in comfort and efficiency at any cost or sacrifice. I embraced their irregular modes of supply as the only resource. Since, greater success in running the blockade has diminished the imperative need existing and apprehended at the time; but still supplies without the aid expected from these contracts must prove scant and precarious. They must, therefore, if practicable, be carried out to the extent made, both from the want they supply and from the faith of the engagements made by the Department; but since hearing of the mischievous effects you suppose to have followed from them, I have abstained from making any move. I very much fear, however, it will be absolutely necessary for the subsistence of the army that contracts for the supply of meat (bacon and pork) of a similar character must be entered into if they can still be made available, to a considerable mouth. In deference to your views, I shall forbear from them as long and kale them as small as necessity will allow; but should they be made shall expect from you such co-operation and countenance as will make them effective.
I am add that, in your laudable desire to prevent all illicit trade especially in cotton, with the enemy, you may have given an exaggerated influence to the effect of these contracts. In truth, in a country where cotton is almost the sole product for sale, and is habitually looked to as the means of supply of all comforts and necessaries, it is impossible to except that trading it with the enemy will not be indulged in to a considerable-extent. Even the most loyal people are apt to yield to the pressure of want, to the extent at least of supplying their families and plantations. To this cause, and not to the influence of a few contracts made by the Government for army supplies, with all deference, I think the trade so deprecated by you is ascribable. It would have equally occurred without them.
I learn, however, that you fear the privilege accorded of passing the cotton, to be paid for by the received, will be abashed and made the cover for carrying into the enemy's line much larger quantities. I cannot see how this can well occur, as the parties contracting are known; do not purchase the cotton at all, but only received it when delivered in payment by the officers of the Government, and then are allowed to remove only that quantity under special permit which may even limit the quantity at such transmission. The moral influence may by injurious, but surely due precaution will effectually guard against abuse or extension of the permit. I shall be pleased, however, to have your views fully on this subject, and any suggestions you de advisable to guard against abuse, in case further contracts for meat become indispensable.
With high consideration and esteem, very respectfully,
J. A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.