Colonel Griffin, together with communication from Lieutenant Harvie, whom I sent down to inspect the courier line.*
The conduct of Captain Nichols' company on two different occasions has been disgraceful in the extreme, and I must either have authority to appoint competent officers to this and other companies in Griffin's as well as Claiborne's regiments, or the companies requiring them must be disbanded. It is not entirely the fault of the men, and I feel sure with proper commanders I would not again be subjected to the mortification and disgust occasioned by the misbehavior and cowardice of these men, who have been taught nothing by their officers unless it be to run from the enemy. The proceedings of boards of examination forwarded to Richmond have never been heard from and probably never will be. In such cases (I mean where officers are found incompetent and inefficient) please inform me what I must do when no action is taken by higher authority.
Nichols has tendered his resignation and his other officers are incompetent . Can I not appoint officers to this company? I should like to put Captain Wright in command of it at once. Situated as I am I should be permitted to act promptly when occasion requires, and I should like to be informed if you will sustain me in taking the steps necessary to place these regiments in a state of efficiency without loss of time-without waiting to hear from the Department at Richmond. In case all the officers of a company are worthless the power to appoint is admitted; but the action of the Department is first necessary as regards those reported incompetent. If nothing is ever heard from their decision surely no charge can be made according to the requirements of the law. I send the small courier as requested.
With the mounted men of the three disbanded companies I am forming a company of couriers as arranged. If upon examination they do not appear sufficiently intelligent I shall substitute if for one of Claiborne's more suitable for such duty. Unless you object I shall relieve Captain pitt and order Colonel Griffin to take charge of that line as heretofore. It is very important that Claiborne's whole regiment should be disciplined. Owing to the scarcity of forage and the arrival of Pettigrew's brigade I shall have to move in a few days. Where shall I go? As soon as I can straighten the command I now have here, finish with an examining board now in session, &c., I shall report to General Longstreet, as I presume Ferebee is his way to Blackwater, although you did not tell me.
Please answer at your earliest convenience.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. H. ROBERTSON,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Cavalry.
WAR DEPARTMENT, ENGINEER BUREAU, C. S. A.,
Richmond, Va., April 20, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: I have honor to make the following report as suggested by His Excellency the President, and requested by you in a recent indorsement on a communication by the honorable Secretary of the Navy, + requesting
* Not found.
+ Of April 10, 1863, p. 976.