HEADQUARTERS CAMP OF INSTRUCTION,
Columbia, S. C., April 9, 1863.
Lieutenant Colonel G. W. LAY,
Asst. Adjt. General, Bureau of Conscription, Richmond, Va.:
COLONEL: I respectfully return the inclosed paper, and in pursuance of your indorsement thereon report:
That as early as the 15th January and the 1st and 5th February, informed the Bureau of the probable partial assignment of conscripts int he State under the operation on circular order 8th January, and the order of the general commanding limiting the selection to regiments in this department.
I now beg leave to ask your especial attention to my letter of the 20th February, in which the whole matter is fully represented; to my report of the 1st March, in which it is more explicitly stated, and to my letter of the 7th April, returning the reference on the application of Colonel Hamilton, First Regiment South Carolina Volunteers.
In these various communications I have earnestly set forth the fact that no regiment of South Carolina volunteers outside of this military department has received any benefit from the pro-rata distribution enjoined to be observed by General Orders, 82, of 1862, and the causes therefor: First, the operation of circular order 8th January, which was not corrected until too late; second, and mainly, the forcible assignment of eight-elevenths of the conscripts of this State to regiments in this department by order of the general commanding. This latter proceeding has glutted regiments and companies which have never been in battle to an extent not known elsewhere, in the service. I have failed in no effort to prevent this injustice by timely and earnest representation.
As you will perceive in the communications referred to, I went so far as to suggest a reversal of the order which perpetrated it, and I have rigidly and peremptorily forbidden recruiting officers in this military department (except those whose companies were absent at the time of the forcible assignment) from approaching my camp, while I have done everything to encourage such officers from South Carolina regiments in Virginia to communicate with conscripts and to induce the conscripts to select them.
I respectfully suggest that I be ordered not to assign one conscript to a regiment which was serving in South Carolina on the 5th day of February, 1863, and to make pro-rata distribution to those serving in Virginia and Tennessee, and that the officers commanding these latter regiments be required to furnish me forthwith a statement of their actual condition, which, although repeatedly solicited, has not been done.
Please return me the inclosure.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO. S. PRESTON,
Colonel, A. A. G., Commandant of Conscripts.
BUREAU OF CONSCRIPTION, C. S. A.,
Richmond, Va., January 15, 1864.
General R. E. LEE,
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 13th January. I am using every possible exertion to