laughed soldier, conscripts, &c., coming into the army every day by hundreds? I thank you, general, for writing to me freely. I will always be pleased to hear from you, and will respond to your calls whenever it is possible.
A. R. LAWTON,
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF WESTERN VIRGINIA, March 9, 1864.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, C. S. Army:
GENERAL: I have this morning been informed by Colonel Browne, commanding the Forty-fifth Virginia Regiment at Saltville, that his regiment and the few remaining troops at that point are claimed by Lieutenant-General Longstreet as belonging to his command. I presume the claim is founded on the fact that Saltville is just on the line between the counties of Smyth and Washington, of which the latter has been assigned to the Department of East Tennessee.
I am informed by my assistant adjutant-general, Major Stringfellow, who has been on duty here since December, 1863, that in the special order of the Department assigning Major-General Jones to this department, issued 25th November, 1863 (a copy of which cannot now be found), that the line of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad and the salt-works were specially mentioned as objects of his particular care and attention. He further informs me that although the six southwestern counties of Virginia, including Washington, were cut off from this department long before General Jones left it, up to this time no claim has been made by commanding officers of the Department of East Tennessee that Saltville was regarded as under their command; that Generals Jones and Backner, impressed with the inconvenience arising from having so important a point directly on the dividing line of their respective commands, entered into a correspondence with each other and with Richmond for the purpose of having it distinctly decided who should be held responsible for its safety, with the understanding that the officer to whom this point should be particularly intrusted should ask for a strong local force for its defense. Major Stringfellow says that he has no knowledge of the distinct settlement of this question by the Department on that occasion, but that General Jones always continued to regard himself as mainly responsible for the safety of Saltville, and was strengthened in this opinion by a telegram from the honorable Secretary of War, in reply to one from General Jones, asking whether he should assist General Buckner with troops from Saltville, in which the Secretary directed General Jones to be governed by his own judgment, adding, however, that the protection of the salt-works was his special care.
Under these circumstances I respectfully submit the question for your division, with the request that it may be forwarded at an early day.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN C. BRECKINRIDGE,
P. S.-In case Saltville shall be placed under the control of the commander of the Department of East Tennessee, I respectfully re-