want of confidence in the Government, which must, if not changed for the better, end in making it absolutely impossible to procure a single article necessary to the maintenance of the army in the field. I do not seek to discredit the motives or actions of any officer, but ascribe the general failure to a lack of uniformity of action, and the pressure of conflicting military orders with reference to cotton, which rendered them, in many instances, powerless to effect the good they otherwise might have accomplished.
I would suggest to you the necessity of representing to the War Department that all contracts payable in cotton in this department should be left to the cotton office. We are and will be much hampered by these contracts if continued to be made at Richmond, and it must occur to you that we should be allowed to determine how the cotton in our hands is to be disposed of, otherwise we may have demands made upon us which it will be impossible to comply with. We will make the best possible disposition of the cotton, and, as far as possible, see that all the wants of the various departments in this section are supplied. Any surplus cotton might be applied to payment of contracts made at Richmond, but it is certainly more judicious to avoid making any contracts there based upon cotton which we may not have possession of. Very large amounts of cotton are already required to pay for goods delivered and in process of delivery, and our first duty is to supply the cotton.
Trusting I may rely upon your co-operation in securing the legislation necessary to place this office on a firmer basis, I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. J. HUTCHINS,
Lieutenant-Colonel, and Chief.
January 8, 1864.
Major J. P. JOHNSON,
C. S. Army:
MAJOR: I regret that severe indisposition has prevented me from making my report* as full as I desired, and preparing several documents that I intended should accompany it, but I have suffered so much that I have been almost incapacitate for everything; in addition to which nearly every moment of my time has been occupied with the cotton bureau, and arranging my matters preparatory to my departure for Eagle Pass. You shall, however, hear from me at an early day, particularly in regard to transportation, which I think can be obtained in Mexico, thus leaving all Texas transportation within our lines for army and agricultural purposes.
I leave this morning for the Rio Grande, and will at Columbia copy my official report to the assistant adjutant-general, to which I allude in my report, and send it to Shreveport immediately; hope it will reach you before leaving. The young man who was to copy it disappointed me.
If any points additional should suggest themselves upon which I can inform you, please address me at Eagle Pass.
Wishing you a pleasant and safe return, I have the honor to remain, your obedient servant,
*Of January 1, 1864. See pp. 566-570.