HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
December 7, 1863.
Colonel L. B. NORTHROP,
Commissary-General, C. S. Army, Richmond, Va.:
COLONEL: I have considered your letter of the 22nd ultimo, and am unable to take the view entertained by you of my powers under the impressment act. I have not time to state the reasons that govern me more fully than was done in my former letter. The power that yo desire rests, in my opinion, with the War Department; was intended by Congress to be exercised by the Department excepting in casual emergencies provided for, and can be more uniformly and judiciously exerted than by the commanders of the armies.
I regret to learn that the necessity for impressment by commanders of armies has, in your opinion, arrived. I shall endeavor to collect all the supplies for this army that I can legitimately do, and keep it in the best condition I can. But unless it is supplied with food, it will be impossible for me to keep it together.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
OFFICE COMMISSARY-GENERAL OF SUBSISTENCE,
December 9, 1863.
Respectfully referred to the Secretary of War.
The power of meeting the present crisis, as far as is possible, rests somewhere, because that necessity is absolute which has no law to limit it.
L. B. NORTHOP,
I know, as an officer, no greater necessity than to obey the law.
J. A. S. [SEDDON,]
HEADQUARTERS HAMPTON'S DIVISION,
December 7, 1863.
General R. E. LEE,
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following suggestions, which are prompted by an earnest desire to place my command in the best condition before the opening of the spring campaign:
Two of the brigades of my division are composed of troops from the two Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Owing to the great distance they are from home, the men in these brigades find great difficulty in keeping themselves well mounted, and horses have reached such prices that I greatly fear many of my best men will be forced to go into the infantry. If these two brigades can be spared this winter, I advise that they be sent to the Roanoke River, near Weldon, where forage is abundant, and where they will have an opportunity not nly of procuring fresh horses, but of doing good service by protecting a very valuable portion of our country. The North Carolina brigade could be largely augmented if it was allowed to winter in its own State, and I feel sure that the other brigades would also be increased in numbers. I recommend that