from the Veteran Reserve Corps, under Captain P. W. Stanhope, Twelfth U. S. Infantry, has been very effective both in securing stragglers and guarding prisoners. Stragglers-enlisted men, and officers the latter with their buttons and straps cut from their coats, per order to me from Lieutenant-General Grant-have been sent to you guarded. I am unable to make you a full return of stragglers, as Captain Hoysredt, one of General Patrick's staff, has failed to report me the number of men he has secured. Re-enforcements are sent you twice a day, guarding trains, as per General Grant's orders, which say, "When it is practicable, send re-enforcements along to guard the trains, "which start from here at 5 a.m. and 4 p.m. Old troops are ordered forward first. The raw troops (some of them are 100-days' militia) come to me wholly untrained in the manual of arms, and should have at least forty-eight hours for drill.
J. J. ABERCROMBIE,
White House, Va., June 8, 1864.
General M. R. PATRICK,
Provost-Marshal-General, Army of the Potomac, Cold Harbor:
MY DEAR GENERAL: I must commence by saying you know me too well to suppose for a moment that I would throw any obstacle in the way of any officer of your department while in the execution of his duty. All I desire is to know the nature and extent of their authority, and every facility will be afforded him to carry it out. Captain Hoysredt says he has no written instructions,but informs me his special duty here is to prevent all persons from going to the front or leaving for Washington or elsewhere without proper authority, and presumes to decide what constitutes the proper authority, it seems, without reference to yourself or anybody else. For instance, a number of discharged me have been sent from here with the necessary papers showing the fact, whom I have directed the quartermaster to furnish transportation with papers vied by the provost-marshal. I understand he objects to their being shipped. If he is right, I have nothing more to say otherwise, as I have certain duties assigned to me by the War Department and General-in-Chief.
I am not disposed to allow any subordinate within the limits of my command to place his own constructions upon the intentions and extent of his authority, unless clearly defined by yourself. In order to be prepared for the transportation of the sick, wounded, and prisoners, it is necessary to watch the opportunities for embarking condemned horses and discharged men so, as to prevent an undue collection here, which is always embarrassing, shoving obstacles in the way of their embarkation, only retarding operations here. I am instructed by the general commanding to report all stragglers from the army. All that have been apprehended by the post provost marshal can be reported. Captain Hoysredt, considering himself entirely independent from my authority here, has failed to report those taken up by himself, which renders it impracticable for me to comply with the instructions I have received.
J. J. ABERCROMBIE,