HDQRS. DIST. SOUTHWEST MISS. AND EASTERN LA.,
Camp Dick Garnett, January 29, 1864.
Major General S. D. LEE,
GENERAL: Your letter of the 16th instant was received on the 26th instant, on my return from Livingston Parish, and in compliance with it, I have to state that the condition of this command is as follows, viz: Wingfield's battalion, Ninth Battalion Louisiana Cavalry, 350 total present; Powers' regiment, Ninth Louisiana Cavalry, 67 total present; Carter's battalion, Eighteenth Battalion Louisiana Cavalry, 253 total present; Greenlee's company, Fourteenth Confederate Cavalry 42 total present; total, 712.
You will thus perceive that only one company of what is called Power's regiment has been mustered in, the other companies not having the minimum number required by law. I can neither muster them in nor arm them, except in case of emergency. My impression is that six companies more can be mustered into Power's regiment in the course of two weeks, as they now have from 40 to 50 men present, and are increasing gradually. An attempt to consolidate two of the smallest has already resulted in the dispersion of one of them, and as we have no hold on them till they are mustered in, I am convinced that it is better to work along patiently that to attempt to force them without the means of doing so. There are also two more companies nearly full in Carter's battalion, which will make in the aggregate thirteen companies of at least 60 men, 780 new troops.
That number of men can be raised and probably kept while the command remains here, but should it be moved or compelled to fall back, I cannot answer for back, I cannot answer for them. The condition of Wingfield's battalion is really worse than that of the new organizations, inasmuch as many of the officers (all except 17) are now prisoners of war, and no field officer present. About 400 of this command, horses, &c., were captured at Port Hudson, and when paroled turned loose to go home, where the majority of the command have been ever since that event. From what I have heard and seen of this command, the officers, with one or two exceptions, are utterly worthless, and have allowed (and set the example to the men) effect license. I feel that I cannot trust them to picket the roads or obey any orders until a through reorganization can take place; and to this end, I have asked General Polk (and hope you will push the matter for me) to procure the appointment of Captain John C. McKewen as major, while I have written to Major George O. Watts, of General Buckner's staff, to ask for orders to report to me for the command of that battalion. Major Watts graduated at West Point and is a competent officer, and Captain McKeween is one of the most dashing and energetic men I know. I need them both badly. I have not recommended field officers for the two battalions now forming under Carter and Powers, as I cannot think of any officers, I hope you will assist me to find such. I will say to you as to General Polk, that I can do little without a force to picket the roads, drive in Yankee raiding parties, and arrest the vast number of paroled prisoners, stragglers, and deserters that prowl in the vicinity of the Yankee lines, as well as through the whole country. Should the enemy occupy East Lou-