HEADQUARTERS POLK'S CORPS, ARMY OF TENNESSEE,
Chattanooga, July 21, 1863.
Adjutant and Inspector Genera;l, Richmond, Va.:
GENERAL: You will remember when I was in Richmond, in November last, I submitted to you, in conversation, a programme for increasing our armies and accumulating reserves. The existing condition of our affairs calls for efforts in that direction more than at any previous time and the perils which surround us require that whatever is done should be done quickly. I therefore venture to recall to you the plan proposed. We are all agreed that there are men enough in the Confederacy capable of military service, and subject to military duty, to build up our armies to a point strong enough to defy our enemies and achieve our independence, if the could be reached and brought into the field. Efforts are being made to accomplish this, but they are entirely inadequate. Something more concentrated, direct, and stringent is required, and the plan proposed, it is believed, will meet the case.
My proposition was to establish a department or burner, to be called the department or burned of reserves, to be either a separate organization or under the direction of the Adjutant and Inspector General's Department to which the work proposed should be directly and exclusively intrusted. At the head os this there should be a general officer of high grade, of competent capacity and aptitude. His field should be the whole of the States of the Confederacy. This chief of the department should be supported by a sufficient number of officers detailed from the different armies in the fields-picked of capacity and energy, with such other qualifications as should fit them for that duty. His headquarters should be at some accessible point near the geographical center of the Confederacy. He should be required to subdivide his field into convened parts or subordinate districts, and to place competent officers at the head of each. In this hands should be placed all the machinery of conscription, and he should be held directly responsible for turning out into the field enemy man liable to military duty. Besides the duty of conscripting, he should be charged with that od recovering volunteers absent without leave and deserters, and restoring them to their several commands. To accomplish these duties thoroughly, he should be intrusted with powers-all that could be given him under the law. He should be charged also with exercising a general and special surveillance over all officers and soldiers absent from their commands, and, in short, be the chief of the military police of the Confederacy-to arrest and return all stragglers of every grade, whether in town or country. To these duties might be added that of supplying commanders of armies or military strongholds with negro laborers, to be employed either as teamsters or to be employed on public works on the requisition of such commanders. Negroes so employed would be equal to an addition of so many effective to each army corps.
I beg leave also respectfully to submit that the practicability of such a plan is no longer a matter of speculation. It has been or several months past in practical and successful operation in the department commanded by General Bragg. he has organized such a bureau for his own department, at the head of which he has placed a general officer (Brigadier-General Pillow) who has shown himself in every way eminently competent for the discharge of the duties assigned him, and the very remarkable results following and flowing from his labors have demonstrated its feasibility, and the eminent value of such an organization.