SPECIAL ORDERS, ADJT. AND INSP. GENERAL'S OFFICE, Numbers 5.
Richmond, Va., January 7, 1864.
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XVIII. Brigadier General William Preston, Provisional Army, C. S., is relieved of the command of the Abingdon District and will proceed without delay to Shreveport, La., and report to Lieutenant General E. Kirby Smith, commanding, for assignment to special duty.
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By command of the Secretary of War:
HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT,
Shreveport, La., January 7, 1864.
Major General JOHN B. MAGRUDER:
GENERAL: The attention of the lieutenant-general commanding has been called to your circular "to the planters and farmers of Texas," dated Rugeley's, 7th December, 1863, a copy of which is inclosed. In reference to this subject he instructs me to call your attention to General Orders, Numbers 138, Adjutant and Inspector-General's Office, Richmond, Va., 1863, October 24. By a comparison of your circular with this order you will see that in conflicts with its second, third, and fourth paragraphs. In calling for labor on fortifications this order should as nearly as possible be followed, and, except in a great emergency, not more than one-fifth per cent. of the male slave population between the ages of seventeen and fifty should every be called for.
The wisdom of calling for a larger proportion than one-fifth per cent., scattered over a wide, extended territory, is greatly to be doubted. They can but rarely be all needed or used judiciously, and when thus called out are necessarily withdrawn from their labors upon the farms and plantations, and as a consequence there must be a corresponding decrease in the grain and other productions which are essential to the subsistence both of the army and the citizens, thus lessening the power of endurance, which must now be one of the main elements of our success, and nursing the spirit of disaffection that may be amongst us. For these and other obvious reasons such a call for labor as the one inclosed, unlimited in its duration, sweeping in its provisions, and drawing upon so large a proportion of the slave population and over such an extent of country, for the defense of points so distant from each other, seems to be injudicious, and if still necessary should at least be modified so as to conform to General Orders, Numbers 138, above referred to, and relaxed even more if it can be safely done. Such portion of the circular as embraces the counties of Red River, Lamar, Bowie, Delta, Marion, Harrison, Titus, and Upshur will be revoked, as these counties have already been called on for their full quota to complete the defenses of upper Red River.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
C. S. WEST,
Captain and Assistant Adjutant-General.