be subsisted; and that the best remedy for this which this Bureau could devise (not having the direction or control of the transportation of the country) was the collection of large supplies of flour and other subsistence stores at many convenient points, ahead of immediate wants; and that the system of living from "hand to mouth" must result in serious disaster, if not absolute ruin; and I returned to express the opinion that unless all the departments of the Government and all the officers of the Government zealously co-operated in the collection of supplies, General Lee would see his army melt away for the want of subsistence; and that the questions which I had been directed by you to submit to General Lee, for his consideration, in a personal interview, were of vastly more importance to the country than the entire and utter annihilation of Burnside's army, desirable as that would be.
The result, however, of my whole interview with General Chilton was that, so far from any anxiety being displayed in regard to the important questions which I was directed by you to submit to General Lee's consideration (but which I had not the opportunity of doing, for the reasons hereinbefore alleged), there was not, as far as I could see, even interest exhibited. General Chilton, in closing his interview with me, suggested that probably I had better see Colonels Corley and Cole on the subject. I told him, of course, I would go to see them (for I was determined to omit nothing on my part to carry out your wishes on the subject), but I could not see any good to be accomplished thereby, as they must refer me back to General Lee. I immediately went to see Colonels Corley and Cole. Colonel Corley, chief quartermaster of General Lee's army, said that, if active operations were to be carried on, he could not spare any transportation; but that if active operations were to be suspended, he should have to send at least 200 wagons to some other section of the State, in order to procure good forage and feed for the horses; and these wagons could do all that the Subsistence Bureau desired, and, when this was accomplished, the wagons could be returned, with the horses vastly improved in condition; but that he could, of course, do nothing without an order from General Lee. Colonels Corley and Cole, however, seemed to appreciate the importance of the question, but were both powerless to afford assistance.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAMES R. CRENSHAW.
SUBSISTENCE DEPARTMENT, January 13, 1863.
It is needless to dilate on the importance of speedy and comprehensive action in collecting wheat. To avoid the delays incidental to arranging preliminaries by writing, an officer of this Bureau, who had been the commissary-general of Virginia, and was better fitted for the duty than any one known to me, was selected to go from Richmond and see General Lee. The purport of his mission is within described.
To secure that attentive consideration which such a mission was entitled to, especially from the general commanding the department which was to be the theater of the operations proposed, and likewise commanding the army whose subsistence was particularly involved, I obtained a letter from the Secretary of War to General Lee, which was borne by Colonel Crenshaw. The officer thus accredited to him was not allowed an interview, it being first put off, and then declined, without understanding the business he had gone to see him on, as was manifested by