delegation, the Secretary of War directs me, through you, to communicate the views of the Government respecting these troops.
The difficulty of assembling the commands where their services were most needed has heretofore prevented it, and the necessities for their service in Tennessee at this time are not less urgent than heretofore.
The Government sympathizes deeply with the wish expressed on the part of these gallant troops, whose invariable good conduct, courage, and self-sacrificing spirit entitle them to the warmest commendations and gratitude of the Government and the country; and it is not doubted that they will appreciate and yield to the public need for their continuance in their present positions, where they have already rendered inestimable service.
If the exigencies of the service permitted, the wishes of the memorialist would be cheerfully complied with, but their own sense of duty, as well as the immeasurable injury which the cause must suffer by acceding to their petition, will, it is confidently believed, furnish sufficient inducement to these troops to cheerfully acquiesce in the wishes of the Government.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
SAMUEL W. MELTON,
Major and Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF WESTERN VIRGINIA, Dublin, March 8, 1864.
Commanding Department of East Tennessee:
GENERAL: Under the orders of the honorable Secretary of War, I am charged with guarding the salt-works just on the border of Washington and Smyth Counties and within the limits of my department. A glance at the map will, however, show you that the main approaches to this point are through the three gaps in the mountain ridge dividing the counties of Russell and Washington, and within your command. I therefore respectfully ask that you will inform me whether you have made any arrangements for picketing these roads and obtaining early information of of the approach of the enemy upon these roads, and, if so, what they are. The importance of the salt-work at this juncture will be readily perceived, and I shall be very glad to received any information that you may deem useful, and to have your co-operation in guarding that point from raids of the enemy.
Very respectfully, general, your obedient servant,
JOHN C. BRECKINRIDGE,
P. S.-I have only one regiment of infantry (600 effectives) and some artillery at Saltville.
OFFICE CHIEF COMMISSARY, Savannah, March 8, 1864.
Colonel L. B. NORTHROP,
Commissary-General, Richmond, Va.:
COLONEL: Under date March 2, Major Cummings informed me that the requirements of General Johnston's army are 7,000 rations