stores available at prices much below those for which they could be gotten in States south.
The repairs of the bridge over Elk Creek, on the railroad from Columbia to Athens, would have enabled us to drain that fertile region. No delay should have occurred, for one month's use would have repaid any expenditure. On February 4, 1863, this work not having been attempted, and time passing, on the representation of Mr. O. C. Brane, an agent of this bureau, as to its importance, efforts were made by this bureau to have the work done. From the correspondence herewith furnished it appears that two months before this bureau had any knowledge of the necessity for the bridge General Bragg's engineer had examined and reported upon the subject. Yet during the two months following no effective action was taken by General Johnston in a matter so vitally important after the battle of Murfreesborough. About this very time General Johnston was asking for the meat which had been collected that fall and the previous winter at Atlanta, to be supplied to troops on the waters of the Atlantic, and on which they were dependent. These facts occurred before the present system was inaugurated.
The unnecessary destruction of public property, consequent upon some of the military movements made by General Johnston, indicates that his judgment in such matters is of doubtful value, and his opposition to the system while commanding in Mississippi, persisted in now, shows that he then gave no aid in removing obstacles in the way of what he is now advocating, and attacks the present system by contradictory action.
As his attacks on the present system are general, the evil consequences deprecated by him will equally affect all our armies, because under the present system his army has as much territory to depend on as any other. He must have some alternative plan to be proposed by which the armies may be supplied with meat.
I request that Your Excellency will direct him to report on this question, specifying his objection to the present system and propositing a better one.
The records of this and of the engineer bureau will furnish evidence to substantiate the foregoing statements.
L. B. NORTHROP.
RICHMOND, March 20, 1864.
The statement of the Commissary-General in his comments on the telegram of General Johnston are, so far as they relate to his (General Johnston's) refusal to give Major Dameron's collecting parties military protection, absolutely incorrect. Major Dameron applied, so it was then understood, for troops to be placed at his disposal, or that of his agents, civil employes for the most part, to be sent with his agents wherever they might choose to go. This was refused by General Johnston's directions. A communication was made by me to Major Dameron in which he was informed that troops would be sent for the protection of any expedition of his on application to General Johnston, if it was considered safe. Of this in all cases General Johnston was to judge.
BENJ. S. EWELL,
Formerly Colonel and Asst. Adjt. General, Dept. of Mississippi.