I learn here that he has not given this important subject his personal attention, further than by sending agents into some of the neighboring counties, without reporting the fact to the chief commissary of the department.
These agents have a list of maximum prices, authorized by you, which have been published, announced rather, as ordinary. These are about double those given by the quartermaster's and commissary departments of this army-prices which satisfied the people of the country. These agents are furnished with State money also. In the single article of corn, our expenditures will be increased by at least $18,000 a day, on account of these changes.
I have just suggested to you, by telegraph, to annul the list of prices, and forbid the use of any but Confederate money within the country we hold.
The persons who still hold provisions are, of course, less friendly to us than those who have been supplying the army, so that the disloyal and least loyal will receive about twice as much for the same articles as we have paid our true friends. Allow me to say, most respectfully, that fair prices of the products of this district can be better ascertained here than in Richmond.
I hope that Major Cummings may be punished for disobedience of the orders of Colonel Northrop.
The feeding of this army seems to me a matter important enough for the services of some of the most efficient officers of the Subsistence Department. If they cannot be spared for such duty, I hope that the agents of Major Cummings may be recalled. They have furnished nothing as yet.
Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. E. JOHNSTON,
SHELBYVILE, March 21, 1863-8.30 a. m.
The following dispatch from General Wheeler has just been received, dated Fosterville, March 20:
GENERAL: I intend driving in the pickets on our entire front early to-morrow, unless otherwise directed.
MARCH 21, 1863-8 p. m.
General LEONIDAS POLK,
GENERAL: My scouts run the pickets in from Jordan's Store, and followed near College Grove. Citizens told the captain that there were two regiments (infantry) on this side of the river, besides one cavalry [regiment].
I am off to that place immediately, to try and find out all about and attack them, if practicable.
P. D. RODDEY,