abundance of the Texas harvest, ten days' rations of flour is all the troops have received during about seven months. Last spring at Natchitoches I had a conversation with the present chief quartermaster of this department on this subject of supplies, suggesting that light flats might be prepared to transport supplies whenever the river was too low for steam-boat navigation. Perhaps this method had been tried. Not one ounce of salt provisions has been received this fall or winter for the troops under my command. Beefcattle are not fit for food at this late period of the year, and their condition is unusually bad now, owing to the severity of the weather. The supply of this bad food has become very uncertain. The officer in Texas charged with the purchase of cattle for the Government utterly failed to furnish them.
Under instruction from department headquarters, I have recently sent an officer into Texas to try and procure and adequate supply. Mean time necessity has compelled me to impress all the cattle I could find on the prairies, much to the discontent of the inhabitants, who have since, as far as they were able, driven their cattle to the enemy. As intimately connected with the subject of the supply and quality of beef-cattle, I beg to inclose copy* of an extract received from Brigadier-General Mounton. I trust this officer is mistaken in supposing that there was an intention to censure his conduct, or that the doctrine has been established that nothing less than the starvation of his troops will justify a commander in the field in diverting food from the object contemplated by the chief commissary of the department. The censure of our superiors, when, as is the case in this department, they are entitled to all respect as well as prompt obedience, is exceedingly painful to officers striving to do their whole duty.
To obviate this, I most respectfully ask for full instructions regarding the rights and duties of officers of the general departmental staff and of those commanding troops in the field. A recent decision in this matter has so overturned the preconceived opinions of my life and shown me to be so much in error that I am entirely without rule to guide my own action or that of my subordinate officers. I most earnestly hope that this question of supplies will meet the early attention of the lieutenant-general commanding, for if some relief is not granted we must withdraw from this whole lower region. I also beg to inclose a copy of a report from Colonel Vincent, commanding on the Teche, which will exhibit to the lieutenant-general commanding the condition of affairs in that quarter. It may be added that the last communication from Franklin village was signed by Brigadier-General Emory, commanding U. S. forces.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
HDQRS. DIST. TEX., N. MEX., AND ARIZ., Numbers 21.
Houston, January 21, 1864.
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II. Green's division of cavalry will at once, on the reception of this order, proceed to Virginia Point, dismounted.
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