I was able to see but one regiment of General Ferguson's, Second Alabama, which presented a fine appearance. From the general's statement, in which I have perfect confidence, his command may be considered to be reliable, though very indifferently armed and equipped. His supply of ammunition is quite limited, and one regiment, Twelfth Mississippi Partisans, is mostly without accouterments. Besides the commands mentioned, there are certain State troops, viz, Lowry's regiment and Ham's battalion (cavalry), supposed to be under General Ferguson's command, some of the companies being near the Charleston and Memphis Railroad, while others are below Okolona and partially disbanded. General Ferguson states that he has not been able to control these troops as he has not been able to find them.
With reference to the State troops there exists much misunderstanding between the Confederate States and State officials as to their status, and to such and extent has this misunderstanding existed, that the efficiency of these troops has been almost destroyed.
It appears by an agreement understood by the President, the Governor, and General Pemberton, the upper tier of counties and onehalf of the second tier, being considered outside our military lines, were exempted from conscription, and State and partisan companies were authorized to be raised and the conscripts in them were not to be interfered with. The State troops mentioned in Chalmers' and Ferguson's commands were considered as turned over to the Confederate States authorities, with the understanding that they were to be paid and retained by the Confederate States, though they were never mustered by Confederate States officers, nor their rolls even verified. Threats were made to seize the conscripts with the State regiments, causing many of the men to desert. Many of these troops have been demoralized, more from the fact of their position not being well defined and understood.
The Governor informed me recently that these troops were mustered in for twelve months, and he showed me the assurance of the President that the conscripts were not to be interfered with in their regiments. At my request the Governor is to inform General Johnston by letter of these different organizations and their status, that no further misunderstanding may exist, which is absolutely essential to their efficiency. It would be to the interest of the service that these troops be regularly transferred to the Confederate States service as they are composed of men of conscript age; but for them to be efficient even now they must be accepted by a Confederate States officer and the rolls verified.
The discipline of the troops in North Mississippi is not good of both Chalmers' and Ferguson's commands. This I attribute mainly to their not being paid regularly (some of the troops having six or eight months' pay due them), to the unhealthy state of political feeling among the people, and the disorganizing element of numerous independent companies in process of organization by individuals under authority from Richmond, the Governor, and different generals. These unformed companies, and the State troops in their present unsettled state, are but harbors for deserters and persons trying to companies is being abused by individuals for their personal advancement and as a shelter to skulkers.
The different organizations are interfering with each other,
37 R R-VOI XXX, PT IV