of course desire a large command where it is to the interests of our cause, and I now consider it essential that some check be put on these new organizations. They are all brought about by ambitious men striving for command and position. If the cavalry now in service in Mississippi be made efficient, it is ample for all military purposes. As to the difficulty of making the new organizations efficient, I have barely to refer to the troops in North Mississippi, scarcely yet efficient after all the labor which has been expended on them for over a year. It may be well to get these men out as cavalry and then dismount them; if this be the object it is very well. I would ask special directions with reference to the State troops. If they are to be transferred I ask to be informed at once, so an officer may be detailed to legalize the transfer and make these troops efficient.
Some control should be exercised over troops being raised under authority from the War Department. Heretofore, I have not considered them as under my jurisdiction till the organizations are complete. Many irregularities are committed, or rather reported, of several of these new commands. I refer particularly to a regiment now being raised in North Mississippi by a Colonel Collins under orders or authority of the Secretary of War. I ask instructions on this point. I hope this communication will not be deemed out of place, particularly that part with reference to the new cavalry organizations. As the conscript law is practically working it will largely increase the cavalry to the detriment of the infantry, and these new organizations will require time to make them efficient.
S. D. LEE,
GRENADA, November 23, 1863.
General J. E. JOHNSTON:
The civil authorities in North Mississippi are issuing writs to recover wagons and teams captured trading with the enemy. Am I to regard these writs? Trading is being carried on largely, and urgent and prompt measures are necessary to stop it. I advise that all captures be confiscated to the Government at once. Will hold property till I hear from you.
S. D. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS CHALMERS' CAVALRY, Oxford, November 23, 1863.
Maj. G. W. HOLT,
MAJOR: The orders from General Johnston and Major-General Lee to confiscate all wagons and mules captured while transporting cotton toward the enemy's lines, and to seize all goods coming from the enemy and sell them at auction, have been received and will be obeyed as far as I can have it done. I wish, however, to place myself right on the official records of the country, and therefore desire to be permitted to say, without disrespect, that these orders are, in my opinion, contrary to law and may bring the officer who executes them into trouble if the civil law should ever again be enforced in this country.