HEADQUARTERS DEFENSES OF WASHINGTON,
Washington, January 14, 1863.
General J. G. PARKE,
Chief of Staff, Army of the Potomac:
GENERAL: We have in the convalescent and stragglers' camp some 1,200 men, and more are constantly arriving. Under the present system of first arming these men, it is impossible to send the men away as rapidly as they accumulate. The following proposition which I made to the Secretary of War and General-in-Chief meets with their approval, and I am instructed to send on the men at once, and they can be armed with their regiments. It is supposed that, as more men leave daily their regiments than accumulate here, there can be no great difficulty in this plan. There may be a few in each regiment who will not get the arms they want; but, as there are always a number of men in every regiment who do not ever take the field, all that are effective will be equipped. As to clothing, canteens, haversacks, and knapsacks, all will be fully equipped.
I am directed to inform you of this arrangement, and, if there is no insuperable objection,it will be continued.
Major Wood has been here nearly a fortnight, and has not been able, with all the aid I could give him, to send off over 200 men armed. You will readily perceive that men would only accumulate here.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. P. HEINTZELMAN,
P. S.- I inclose a copy of a report of an inspection, which is more in detail. These men are so unreliable here, almost without officers, that I have to detail a regiment to act as guards to those camps.
HEADQUARTERS DEFENSES OF WASHINGTON.
January 14, 1863.
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
MAJOR: On the 13th, I inspected the new convalescent, camp, and made an examination of the progress being made in sending the well men to their regiments.
I find that during the week about 1,000 will be quartered in the new barracks, and that barracks for 5,000 will be completed within ten days.
There are about 1,500 men in the distribution camp well enough to be sent forward.
In the camp of recruits there are about 200.
In the convalescent camp, proper, there are now 8,108 men. At least one-third of them are will able-bodied soldiers, fit for duty. The troops are generally well clothed. There is plenty of clothing in the camp to clothe the whole command. At least 1,000 a day can be got ready for the field if sent unarmed.
I am informed by Major Wood, assistant provost-marshall, that up to the present time he has been unable to send off any men equipped. To-day he will forward to the Army of the Potomac only 200 men. I am confident that unless an ordnance department is established at or in the neighborhood of the camp, it will be impossible to keep the number in