In casting around for the means of avoiding the effect of this restriction, he finds another clause of the impressment law reposes in commanders in the field the discretion of unlimited impressment when necessity requires, and believing, as he insists, that such necessity is actually existing, he wishes what was intended as a power for casual exercise should be brought into general and immediate operation. Considering that the discretion was reposed by law in the generals commanding to be determined on their convictions of the necessity existing, I have not felt at liberty to prohibit the Commissary General from presenting his view of such necessity and suggesting the exercise of the discretionary power referred to.
At the same time I have declined myself to command, or even recommend to the generals in the field, the general use of the unlimited power of impressment given them by the law. I do not wonder at the reluctance which is, felt by ou to the employment of such summary means, and I certainly think they should be foreborne unless upon information possessed by yourself or communicated by officers of the commissariat, who have ampler means of judgment than I can possess, your conviction of the necessity should make it imperative.
Impressment as a mode of supply for the army, even with the restrictions imposed upon the Department, is unequal and odious, and I shall earnesly urge at the approching session of Congress the expediency of adopting other modes of supply, or of so tempering and regulating this as to make it less harsh and more equal in its operation.
Yours, with esteem,
J. A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.
HDQRS. ARTY. CORPS, ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
November 20, 1863.
General R. E. LEE,
GENERAL: In obedience to your instructions I have carefully reconsidered all the recommendations for promotion in the artillery service with this army, availing mysefl of the matured counsels of General Long, chief of artillery, Second Corps, and Colonel Walker, chief of artillery, Third Corps, and of General Stuart for the batteries serving with the cavalry. The result I have now the honor to report.
The legitimate armament of batteries actually in the field with the army, including those attached to the First Corps and those with the cavalry, amounts to 276 guns. At present there is a deficiency of guns in some of the batteries, owing to the fact that Napoleons have not been supplies in sufficient numbers to replace all the 6-pounders and howtizers turned in to be recast, and the additional fact that casualties in action and the war and tear of service have deprived us at this juncture of some pieces and teams, for the replacing of which arrangements are in progress. The existing icomplete number thus produced is 244.
As all the elements of our oganization, companies, battalions, and corps groups, are based upon the legitimate number expected tob e restored as soon as practicable, it is believed to be the proper standard by which to adjust our legal proportion of field officers. This num-