the army and the country. Having done this much-and I can safely point to the record to sustain me-I now request that I be freed from the interference of the chief engineer between me and my subordinates. I have mentioned the matter several times to him, but I cannot see that my doing so has been of any practical avail. I claim that no one has a right to order my subordinates but myself, and that all orders to them shall come through me. I think it hardly worth while to argue so obvious a principle military law, custom, and justice.
In reference to the present emergency, I am ready at any time to give my own services, or those of any man under me, to any work the general commanding may desire, but at the same time I insist on my right to be consulted and to be the one who shall order my subordinates on other duty than that for which they were appointed. I wish the general commanding to understand distinctly that I wish to advance the interests of this army in every way possible, but that I feel bound to protest against any and every attempt of the chief engineer to override me or my subordinates.
I send in this communication at this time as I understood the chief engineer to say to the general commanding that he proposed ordering all the topographical engineers to report to him to-morrow morning for duty in directing the fortifications. No consultation was had with me, nor have I been requested to issue the order. If the general commanding desires the topographical engineers to go on such duty, I will most cheerfully and willingly issue such an order, but I earnestly protest against General Morton doing so of his own authority and without consulting me or having the order issued from my office. I trust the general commanding will cause such instructions to be given in writing to the chief engineer and to myself as will forever set at rest this annoying and most unfortunate conflict.
I am, general, respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. E. MERRILL,
Captain of Engineers, Chief Topographical Engineer.
September 28, 1863-12.20 p.m.
Heavy columns of dust 20 degrees east of south, 3 miles distant, moving in a southwesterly direction. Can see some cavalry in it.
Acting Signal Officer.
SIGNAL STATION, CAMERON'S HILL,
September 28, 1863-1 p.m.
Captain J. MERRILL:
Seventy degrees east of south a regiment of infantry is tearing down a board fence and carrying boards northeast into the woods about 3 miles from here.
H. W. HOWGATE,
Lieutenant and Acting Signal Officers.
58 R R-VOL XXX, PT III