and the acting chief of the Engineer Bureau upon the points presented in your letter, which refer to the departments respectively of which they have charge.
The remarks of these officers are herewith transmitted in full, that you may have the most accurate information as to their views upon the subjects to which you refer, and may give to them the consideration they deserve.
Having the honor to express to you His Excellency's best wishes, I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. W. C. LEE,
Colonel and Aide-de-Camp.
Richmond, March 9, 1864.
Respectfully returned, through the Commissary-General of Subsistence, to His Excellency the President.
The system of purchase and supply proposed by Lieutenant-General Polk is at variance with that which has always prevailed, and with the very existence of organized departments, if introduced generally. If every commander is to control the resources of his military department, what field of operation is left for the various bureaus supposed to be essential to efficiency of the service?
This plan involves, too, the necessity of each separate military department being self-sustaining, as there would be no controlling authority to direct the transfer of a surplus in one district of country to another, or in any way equalize the distribution of the scanty stores at our command. Vicious as this plan is regarded, still if General Polk will undertake to make his department self-sustaining further objections might be waived.
A. R. LAWTON,
OFFICE COMMISSARY-GENERAL OF SUBSISTENCE,
March 12, 1864.
Respectfully returned to His Excellency the President.
So far as the inclosed letter relates to this department, it shows that Lieutenant-General Polk does not comprehend the system of obtaining supplies now in operation. The evils complained of by him do not attach to this system, but experience shows them to be abundantly consequent upon the one he proposes to substitute.
This bureau knows of no order making it necessary for a requisition to be approved at Richmond before it is filled. On the contrary, officers acting under orders from this bureau are instructed to fill requisitions made upon them as far as possible.
The present system contemplates a hearty co-operation between the purchasing agents of the bureau and officers attached to armies in the field, and provides an ample sphere for the exercise of the functions of the latter without the slightest conflict. Under the plan proposed by General Polk, the agents and officers of an army in a country whose resources are expended must invade the territory of others; hence conflict of authority and competition of purchasers in the same interest without possible remedy, instead of the settled arrangement for co-operation provided by the present system.