2nd. I ordered the battalion quartermasters to desist from attempting to supply their commands with forage,and directed them to rely on my brigade quartermaster. I directed him to weigh or measure, and, if possible, to agree on price and quantity he took anything.
3rd. The next day I ordered the whole mounted force in this vicinity into one camp, near this place; put a strong camp guard on; prohibited any man from riding his horse out of camp unless he was on duty, under a commissioned officer, and I put on duty a mounted patrol of 30 men, under a commissioned officer, with written instructions to put in jail any soldier caught in a garden or corn-field, and to arrest any caught out of camp after 8 o'clock at night, under any pretense whatever, and to use such force as was necessary to execute my instruction. Indeed, I told this guard, if any one resisted them, or attempted to escape when arrest was made, to fire upon such without hesitation. I am bound, sir, to say your informants were fully aware of all these instructions. I leave it to you, then, to characterize the representation made at the Department as to my bearing when informed of the grievances of which complaint was made.
Never since I held a commission have I, here or elsewhere, given the slightest countenance to any depredation upon the private property of any man; and always when the citizen has come before me with complaint, if he would make affidavit to his loss, I have satisfied his demand; if I could find out the regiment which burned the farmer's rails, I have directed the amount to be presented to, and collected from, the erring command. But the fact is, these people about here are not so much oppressed by what is taken as from the sense that they are not getting the highest speculators' price for what they have to spare; and they don't want a force about here at all, because they want to sell what they have at artificial prices, which are perfectly absurd on their face, and which, if tolerated, must ruin the currency in which all must be paid.
The price of produce must have a due relation to the value of land, and e converso. The price of corn and hay hereabouts would fix the price of land at $1,000 or $1,200 per acre. Pork at $25 per hundred weight, corn at $3 per bushel, hay at $2 per hundred weight are of such prices, and, for one, I give them no countenance, nor do I esteem it a sound or patriotic reply to say that such prices are offered and can be had. I think I disclose what is the real gist of the offending in making this expose. When I received your telegram I looked into the matter immediately. I called up my commands and quartermasters, and gave the pointed directions, and did not limit my action to the cold reply which has been transmitted to you. I gave my disbursing officers instructions to pay $1.50 per bushel for corn and $1 per hundred weight for hay, and, if the articles could not be constructed for at those prices, to report the matter to me, and not to take where there was any doubt whatever of the ability of the owner to spare without inconvenience to his family, stock, or property. In two days after this order, the report was made that corn could not be purchased at my prices, and some 800 horses lived one of those days on two pounds of dry hay each, the next day on about five pounds or dry, and the third day, rather have any difficulty by pressing what my eyes told me grew plentifully on the farms about here, I moved the mounted force away from the vicinity, so that some forage at least could be procured for the poor animals that were literally starving in the midst of abundance.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully,&c.,
26 R R-VOL XX, PT II