prompt compliance with all our obligations, I would respectfully suggest some legislation by Congress by which our military authorities will be relieved from this duty, and the adoption of such measures as will inspire confidence in all our transactions. I am ratified to find that a bureau composed of citizens of undoubted integrity and capacity has been organized at this place, having entire control of all transactions based upon cotton. This will doubtless have a tendency to restore confidence, and their action will meet with my hearty co-operation.
I would also respectfully suggest the necessity of depriving all officers of the right of making contracts for army supplies other that the products of the country.
While on duty at Brownsville, contracts made at Richmond, and by Major S. Hart, quartermaster, involving millions of dollars, all payable in cotton on the delivery of the goods, were presented to me for payment. I had never been advised of the existence of these contracts, and, of course, no preparation had been made to pay them. The result is, that our credit with foreign houses is so impaired as to prevent our receiving additional supplies, except at the most exorbitant rates. I will give you one or two instances. On the 16th of July, 1862, Mr. Nelson Clements, of this place, addressed a letter to Major Hart, quartermaster, proposing to purchase 20,000 Enfield rifles, blankets, shoes, hats, and cloth, not to exceed &1,000,000, to be delivered at Matamoras, Mexico, at an advance of 100 per cent. on cost and charges, for which Major Hart agreed to pay him on delivery in cotton at 30 cents per pound, on shipboard. Major Hart indorsed this letter, "I accept the above proposition," and General Magruder approved it. Of this I knew nothing until, in August or September last, Mr. Clements' agent notified me that the goods were ready for delivery, and submitted the contract. I referred him to Major Hart's agent, who replied that he had no cotton, and had received but 86 bales up to that time. I represented these facts to General Magruder, and the order authorizing the impressment of cotton was issued.
I called on Mr. Clements' agent for his invoices, and, upon examination, found that shoes which I had purchased a few days previous, of the same quality, at &2.25 per pair, payable in cotton at 12 1/2 cents per pound in San Antonio, would cost within a fraction of &9, and other articles in proportion. I remonstrated, but it was decided that no price being specified in the contract, I had no right to object, but must comply with the obligations of the Government.
A board of survey was called by me to examine this cargo, most of which was pronounced unfit for service, thus relieving the Government of this swindle to some extent. Of the 20,000 stand of arms to be delivered, the Government received about 4,000, the remainder having been captured by the French. I was absent from Brownsville when these arms arrived, and General Bee, who was in command, ordered Major Hart's agent to turn over cotton to meet the payment-estimated quantity required, 1,200 bales.
On the 10th of November, after the evacuation of Fort Brown, I called on Mr. Clements' agent at Matamoras to ascertain how much cotton he had received on account of these arms, and he reported between 500 and 600 bales. I also requested him to furnish me an invoice of the arms, which he subsequently did at Monterey, charging the Government 150 per cent. advance, to which I objected, as the contract only provided for 100 per cent. He handed me the original of a letter from Major Hart, quartermaster, of which the following is a true copy: