HEADQUARTERS NORTHERN SUB-DISTRICT,
Bonham, Tex., November 3, 1863.
Captain STEPHEN D. YANCEY,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General:
SIR: Yours of October 29, Numbers 928, has just reached me, and I assure the major-general that I was greatly surprised and wounded at its tone.
I had written the major-general fully with regard to the condition of this country, and had kept him fully informed by my letters of what I was doing with the State troops, and had every reason to believe that my course was fully approved by him, as he had upon more than one occasion remarked that I must use my judgment to a great extent in many matters connected with the administration of affairs in this sub-district.
It is emphatically true that I had furloughed one-half the State troops to sow wheat, and that, too, after I had seen Special Orders, Numbers 1818,* I believe, but did not suppose for a moment that I was disobeying it or Special Orders, Numbers 153,* both of which you refer me to, when I furloughed those men, as I had received special authority from General Magruder in a letter written by his assistant adjutant-general, Captain E. P. Turner, Numbers 646, dated September 29, 1863#, in these words:
In regard to furloughing men of the army to see to sowing their crops in your sub-district, I am directed to say that such furloughs may be granted by you from among the State troops only. You will not allow men who are enlisted in the Confederate States service for the war to be furloughed for any such purpose.
I furloughed one-half, because I had proposed that number to the general in my letter to which this was a reply, and because I believed the interest of the country required it,and from reliable information that the enemy would not, within the twenty days for which these men were furloughed, advance upon Northern Texas, in which I have not been mistaken.
The general does not seem to complain at details, although you mention them, and for fear he should conclude that I have transcended my authority with regard to them, I will quote from same letter referred to above:
You will also make details and grant furloughs, when you deem it necessary, from among the State troops, to operate thrashing-machines and mills.
I earnestly hope that the major-general will not realize any embarrassment from these furloughs; that the enemy may not come so strong that he cannot meet and drive him back successfully. Should it occur, however, the general can only blame me for my recommendations, which may have led him to adopt a policy which he now seems to think very objectionable, but certainly will relieve me from the charge of disobeying orders in this particular.
And I find myself peculiarly situated with regard to another matter. In getting the deserters out of the brush, they were destitute, many of them, of clothing, shoes, blankets, &c., and we had none on hand with which to supply; they said, by giving them a furlough of twelve or fifteen days they could return pretty well supplied with these articles, and, I through my messengers, agreed to do so, and am compelled, in order to keep my promise to them, to do so, which I hope the general will not construe into disobedience of his orders.
The circumstances surrounding me here have been and are exceedingly embarrassing, and I have had to assume responsibilities that I
#See inclosure, p. 388.