War of the Rebellion: Serial 036 Page 0289 Chapter XXVI. GENERAL REPORTS.

Search Civil War Official Records

[W. A.] Broadwell, agent of the Commissary-General and also for my department, under my immediate instructions:

Purchase bacon for this department; if possible, buy several million pounds. Also send, if you can, a few thousand live hogs to Port Hudson and Vicksburg. If the present navigation should be interrupted, try to get thee hogs across the river, so that they can be driven to the interior of the State and rendered available for the use of the troops. If nothing better can be done, you will contract with energetic men to get from Texas 200 or 300 wagons loaded with bacon, the meat to be paid for by the chief of subsistence of this department, the transportation settled by the quartermaster, and the wagons and teams taken at fair valuation by the Government. You had better attend to salt first, to bacon next, and to sugar afterward. You are properly accredited to commanding generals elsewhere, who are requested to assist you in accomplishing my wishes as herein indicated.

I was extremely desirous at this time to procure a sufficient supply of salt to enable me to cure bacon, and with that purpose an order was issued prohibiting the exportation of hogs from the department. The difficulty of obtaining salt in sufficient quantity at the proper season prevented the success of this plan to any great extent. Though extremely anxious at this time to purchase all the meat possible, I did not think it advisable to make large purchases of corn from the TransMississippi for Vicksburg and Port Hudson, and Lieutenant-Colonel Broadwell was so notified. It has already been shown that the large amount at Port Hudson had not been properly secured, and more was still being delivered. The enemy's attempt on Vicksburg via Chickasaw Bayou had just signally failed, and his troops been withdrawn and re-embarked.

Before January 1, supplies from Deer Creek and Sunflower could not be brought down, owing to the low stage of water, and when the rise of those streams admitted of their being landed at Snyder's Mill, the character of the soil and the roads over which the wagons must pass was such as to render transportation almost utterly impracticable. I had, however, appropriated 100 wagons for that especial purpose.

In a communication dated February 26, General Stevenson says:

During wet weather we cannot use the dirt road from Haynes' Bluff to this point (Vicksburg). The passage of our train of over 100 wagons would render it impassable in one day; besides, not being able to haul more than a quarter load, it would prevent its being kept in good order. To relieve it at such times, grain should be obtained by railroad, but it, as now managed, cannot be relied on.

There was an abundance of corn in the department, but in very many instances planters refused to sell except for cash payments, and the great delay in forwarding funds embarrassed me exceedingly.

On January 20, I telegraphed as follows to the honorable Secretary of War:

Unless funds are sent immediately to Major Theodore Johnston, chief commissary of subsistence of the department, the army cannot be supplied. Estimates have been forwarded. Please have money sent at once.

During this time stores in large quantity were being rapidly collected at various depots, but the difficulty of transportation, owing to the wretched condition of the Southern railroad, the obstacles that were continually thrown in the way by railroad authorities, and the clamor raised at any attempt of mine to make private interests subservient to Government necessities, had the effect of preventing effectually the rapid accumulation of supplies. Positive prohibition had been issued from the War Department against the interference of commanding generals or other officers with railroad transportation. Immediately on the re-