OFFICE CHIEF OF SUBSISTENCE,
Canton, May 29, 1863.
Major A. P. MASON, Assistant Adjutant-General, Canton:
MAJOR: I inclose herewith a communication from Dr. H. P. Atkins,
a very reliable and responsible citizen of this State, who has lately visited the northern counties to ascertain what amount of subsistence stores could be obtained from that portion of the State. It will be seen from the statement inclosed there still remains in the hands of planters a large quantity of bacon and corn, both of which articles this army very much needs. In view of the fact that the region of country indicated is one upon which we must in a great measure rely for supplies, I respectfully request that the general commanding give such consideration to the suggestions of Dr. Atkins as he may deem proper.
I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
CANTON, MISS., May 27, 1863.
Major THEO. Johnston:
SIR: In obedience to your request, I beg leave to make the following statement in relation to the commissary supplies in Northern Mississippi, especially in the counties of Panola, De Soto, Tunica, and the western part of Marshall:
There is now in the country of De Soto at least 600,000 bushels of corn over a bountiful supply for the citizens. There is probably as many as 1,000 head of beef-cattle, and a considerable quantity of bacon could be very well spared by the citizens, and would be if what they retain for themselves was protected by an adequate force from the frequent raids of the Federals in that country, which raids are more for the purpose of destroying the supplies, stealing horses, &c., than for any purpose of just and honorable warfare. The wheat crop in the county of De Soto is very large and exceedingly fine. I am informed by old citizens of that country that such a promising yield was never before seen. In the county of Panola the wheat crop is also very good; also a godly number of beeves can be had in that county. In the county of Tunica there is a large surplus of corn, beeves, and bacon. In Marshall there will be a considerable surplus of wheat . The wheat crop in the above-named counties is now being harvested, and will in a very short time (say, two weeks) be ready for sacking and shipment if the citizens of those counties could be protected from the frequent raids of the enemy. In my opinion, an effective force of 5,000 men, placed along on the line of Mississippi and Tennessee, would be ample protection and, by proper energy on the part of an agent, in three or four weeks' time all the supplies could be brought out from those counties if teams and wagons were sent in sufficient numbers. By placing the number of troops mentioned at the point designated, sufficient protection would be given to the Mississippi and Tennessee Railroad to enable the running of that railroad to Coldwater Depot, which is in De Soto County, thereby shortening the transportation by wagons 32 miles. In some few instances impressment might have to be resorted to in order to get the supplies that the parties could well spare, and I think they ought to be impressed, for such parties have been smuggling cotton into Memphis and otherwise trading with the Yankees, until they now estimate our currency by the Yankee standard greenbacks. In fact, to say in moderate language, they are demoralized.