War of the Rebellion: Serial 045 Page 1038 N. C., VA., W. VA., MD., PA., ETC. Chapter XXXIX.

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[Indorsement.]

JULY 27, 1863.

Respectfully submitted to the Secretary of War. Measures have been taken to send the convalescents, absentees, &c., within referred to, to their commands.

S. COOPER,

Adjutant and Inspector General.

RICHMOND, July 24, 1863.

General R. E. LEE,

Bunker Hill, via Winchester:

Colonel Singeltary`s regiment, Forty-fourth North Carolina, has been ordered from Hanover Junction to Gordonsville, there to await your orders.

S. COOPER,

Adjutant and Inspector General.

WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A.,

Richmond, Va., July 25, 1863.

General R. E. LEE,

Commanding Army of Northern Virginia:

GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your other of the 17th instant, in regard to the organization from your army of the First Regiment of Engineer Troops, in accordance with the act of Congress, approved March 20, 1863; and also the inclosed copy of your Special Orders, Numbers 176*, suspending, for the present General Orders, Numbers 66, Adjutant and Inspector General`s Office, relating to the same. The reasons urged by you for your course are clear and forcible, and your Special order, being understood to be temporary in its effect, is approved; but as you admit on general grounds the value of engineer troops, I have thought it well to review and remove, if possible, some of your objections to the proposed organizations. A very prominent one seems to be that the companies are to be collected together in battalions or regimentally, and, therefore, will not be on hand for service when needed by the division commanders. Is this objection well founded? In order to give dignity to the service, as well as esprit de corps to officers and men, will it not be eminently proper, whenever the army is encamped for any length of time, and no immediate movement or attack anticipated, that the companies should be brought together regimentally? It seems to me it is only thus that the field officers can have sufficient control and influence; only thus, in great emergencies, that these troops can be made to act harmoniously together in large numbers, and that they can ever be of service as armed soldiers.

If they are to be kept simply and always in company organizations, subject exclusively to the orders of the major-general commanding the division, the probability is great that they will rapidly degenerate into mere drudges, scarcely better than camp-followers, to be employed in menial service, burying the dead, & c. As a natural consequence, the better class of officers (and great efforts have

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*See p. 1020.

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