HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, February 11, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON, Secretary of War:
SIR: I feel very much obliged to you for the consideration which you have given to the subject of subsisting this army. From the reports brought by Lieutenant-Colonel Cole, chief commissary, I understand that the principal reliance for meat is based upon the present supplies at Atlanta and in Tennessee, and that the chief difficulty will be in its regular transportation by rail to Richmond. Will you allow me to suggest that energetic agents of the Quartermaster's Department be at once detailed, if it has not already been done, to attend to the transportation of this meat from Atlanta to Richmond.
I have not heard whether the bridges destroyed by the enemy on the Tennessee and Virginia Railroad have been reconstructed. If any aid is required to transport the provisions over the broken part of the road, if necessary I will detail an officer and men to repair thither for the purpose. I will suggest, too, that the transportation of other articles on that road, not of primary importance, be suspended until the meat in question has been placed within the control of the Commissary-General, at Richmond.
About the 19th ultimo, I directed the chief quartermaster of this army to apply fifty wagons of its transportation train to convey the wheat which might be purchased by the agents of the Commissary Department at Richmond, in the counties lying between the Rappahannock and the Pamunkey Rivers, to the Central Railroad at Hanover Court-House, and requested that the Commissary-General might be informed of this arrangement. I wrote to His Excellency the President on the subject, and suggested, in addition, that all the spare wagons in Richmond, Gordonsville, Charlottesville, &c., be collected and applied to the conveyance of the wheat in Green, Madison, and Culpeper Counties to the railroad, for transportation to Richmond. It is probable that this arrangement is being carried out, though I have not as yet heard of anything being accomplished. All the wheat which has been collected on the Fredericksburg road, I am informed, has been forwarded to Richmond, but no new supply is coming in to the road.
I have now directed the different commissaries of this army, while engaged in collecting supplies for their respective commands, to purchase all the wheat they can, and cause it to be transported to the railroad, for conveyance to Richmond. I must again earnestly invite your attention to this subject.
I have the honor to be, with much respect, your obedient servant.
R. E. LEE,
I send this in the first instance to you, as it may be in your power to inform me whether such officers as are suggested from the Quartermaster's Department should not be sent, or whether you would find it better to leave the matter to your agents.
J. A. S.,
OFFICE COMMISSARY-GENERAL OF SUBSISTENCE, February 16, 1863.
The battle of Fredericksburg was on the 13th. So soon as it seemed settled that no farther advance of the enemy was to be expected, all