for the double purpose of transporting company cooking utensils and foraging battery horses." For a four-gun battery this gives one wagon alone which can be strictly used as a forage wagon, for one must never go far from the battery, else the company will lose their cooking utensils in the event of being ordered to move while the wagons are out foraging. My own past experience satisfies me that no battery can be foraged with less than three wagons. By fixing this as the rate, you will reduce most of the batteries one wagon, which is a reduction of one-quarter in the transportation - a considerable saving. Three wagons to the battery is, I am sure, not too much. I believe it hardly necessary to increase this for a six-gun battery, for one wagon is practically lost for foraging purposes. It must carry cooking utensils and frequently company rations; besides, when battery horses are lost and not immediately replaced, the harness has to be transported. The battalion ordnance wagon can only do this when the batteries are not separated, to say nothing of the fact that it can carry but little, as its appropriate contents should be spare collars, traces, harness oil, grease, &c. Two wagons are thus left to forage the battery. At the outside, one wagon can carry but 6 barrels corn, that is, 168 rations of 10 pounds each, or only two days' rations of corn for the battery. More frequently it can carry but 5 barrels. The other wagon is left to collect forage. A battalion of artillery marching in the general column, with infantry in front and rear, cannot collect forage on the road. It gets into camp but a short time before sunset, and then, if it has to unload and start its wagons off 5 or 6 miles for forage, they return about 1 or 2 o'clock in the night, the teams broken down, but compelled to go through the same thing next day, while the battery horses are irregularly fed. The three wagons to the battery, allowing two forage wagons, will either carry four days' rations, or else one can go out on the side roads, and, collecting forage during the day, come into camp shortly after the battery, the horses not being overworked.
One wagon should carry cooking utensils, company papers, horse medicine, and company rations, and will be compelled to remain with the battery, frequently having to transport harness and the knapsacks of sick and broken-down men. When batteries were attached to brigades or divisions, they could and did draw subsistence stores from the brigade and division commissary trains; now they have to draw from the chief commissary of their army corps by battalions. His train is always in rear. After everything gets out of the road into camp, wagons have to go back, draw supplies, and come up. This need not be done every day; how often, depends on how many days' rations can be carried, but it has to be done every two or three days. Therefore the wagon remaining with the battery should carry the company rations, so as to be provided against a sudden order to move or a temporary separation for two or three days from its battalion, as will frequently happen.
I am perfectly aware of the very great necessity for reducing the number of animals in the army, but the very scarcity of forage demands greater activity in securing it, and, therefore, these means of providing it should not be reduced to so low a standard as to rapidly wear out and break down the teams employed in this work, besides the great necessity for providing well for the horses we keep. Please let me hear from you soon on this matter.
Day before yesterday Colonel [R. L.] Walker came up from Richmond, and brought with him the commissions for the field officers of artillery. I at once sent them on to General Lee, and I expect they will get to you