ENGINEER BUREAU, October 25, 1862.
Major SAMUEL W. MELTON,
I have respectfully to state that this Bureau is particularly anxious to act in concert with the commanders of the troops in the military districts of the Department of Northern Virginia. As chief engineer of that department, and at the earnest solicitation of the congressional delegation from North Carolina, I sent Colonel Water Gwynn, a civil engineer of great experience and a graduate of West Point, to examine promptly the question of obstructing and defending the rivers of Eastern North Carolina, with authority to engage negro labor and materials for the works; to report his action at once to this Bureau; also to Brigadier-General French, commanding, &c., and ask of him protection and support, if needed.
On the 11th instant I asked of Major-General Smith that instructions be given to the district commanders to give every assistance and protection possible with their troops in furtherance of the works-works for which I as chief engineer of the department am responsible. I feel sure Colonel gywnn will keep Brigadier-General French informed of all his selections of sites, the character of the works proposed, their progress, &c., as he has been directed. As the question of defending the rivers of Eastern North Carolina is strictly one for the engineer, I must have the control and direction of the officers engaged in the labor, but in such direction I have and will order them to act in full concert with Brigadier-General French and other district commanders.
J. F. GILMER,
Colonel of Engineer and Chief of Bureau.
EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, C. S. A.,
Richmond, Va., October 27, 1862.
His Excellency Gov. ZEBULON B. VANCE:
SIR: I am directed by the President to inform you that your letter of the 20th instant, suggesting the employment of heavy cotton stuffs for army harness and the devotion of leather to the exclusive manufacture of shoes was referred to the Quartermaster-General, who reports that very inconsiderable contracts are made by the Quartermaster's Department for harness in North Carolina. The contracts to which you refer are probably for the Ordnance Bureau. The suggestion is a good one, that the practice of using leather be discontinued as far as possible for the manufacture of anything else than shoes; but the Quartermaster-General thinks that while cotton serves very well for plantation harness it is unfit for the wear and tear to which harness is necessarily subjected in the army.
Your letter has been forwarded to the Secretary of War with directions to secure the leather of the country as far as practicable for shoes.
I have the honor,sir, to present you the compliments of the President.
Your obedient servant,
BURTON N. HARRISON,