As the war has progressed these causes have increased and the results have become intensified, so as to be obvious to ordinary intelligence; and the prudential suggestions flowing therefrom have been continuously pressed on the War Department. In the fall of 1862 an elaborate statement of the whole situation submitted and occupied the attention of the Government for weeks.
Finally, many secret contracts of various kinds, in which the proposers assumed success, were made to get meat from over the borders in many directions. The watchfulness of the enemy has foiled them all. Other arrangements to introduce meat via Europe, Bermuda, and Nassau have been pressed with some success, but small compared with the necessity; and a system of collecting all the food that could be obtained in our country established so complete that those who do not raise it for their own use fear they will find, in some instances, insuperable difficulty in supplying themselves, and the other departments requiring supplies, make such complaints, and the reduction of the meat ration has been several times pressed.
General Bragg and his chief commissary, so far as these papers indicate, seem to think that the statements of Majors Cummings and Wilson are necessary to convince the Secretary of War of the want now impending.
General Bragg's indorsement states that the paper touching a matter of such vital importance is submitted to the War Department, and that the morale of his army is being seriously injured by this cause principally, and that deserters, some to the enemy, are not uncommon.
General Bragg has fallen into a delusion. His army has probably many Tennesseeans and inhabitants of districts in Mississippi and Alabama which have been yielded to the enemy from the Mississippi east, and the loyal East Tennessee having entered the army, and perhaps also many lukewarm, if not disloyal, consider that their families are virtually in the hands of their domestic enemies. Those from the rest of Tennessee and North Alabama and Mississippi know that their homes are actually so. That army has been sufficiently fed to keep the men in good condition. Witness that of the Army of Virginia, on less, never was more healthy or efficient than last winter. But the causes above enumerated have been working, and will cause demoralization always, except only when troops are actively engaged in attempting to drive the enemy from their homes. Even without those causes an army of men having homes and families not well provided for will be demoralized, while an army with far less rations than his army has had, if operating actively, will not become demoralized.
General Bragg admits serious demoralization in his army; he attributes it to the prospect of impending want of subsistence one month ahead; consequently his judgment of the true causes is legitimately contested by my judgment in support of a different explanation. The reserves at Atlanta were intended for the east, it being justly supposed that the armies of the west and southwest could hold the country, which was amply sufficient to subsist them. General Bragg's army has chiefly depended on these reserves, and 125,000 pounds of bacon have recently been sent to General Johnston's army.
For twice within two months the stores at Jackson, Miss., have been destroyed, to which I especially ask the attention of the Secretary of War.
L. B. NORTHROP.