HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, near Atlanta, Ga., August 4, 1864.
As some confusion and misunderstanding has occurred relative to my orders as to newspapers and newspaper carriers, I will repeat that it is a small business for me to attend to it in the midst of an active campaign, and one that ought never to reach my notice. The military railroad is to carry supplies for the army. It cannot carry all the supplies allowed by law and usage, and therefore preference must be given to some things over others: First, ammunition; second, clothing; third, provisions for men; fourth, forage for horses; and as I cannot in person supervise the bills of lading or loading of trains, I leave this to the quartermaster at Nashville, who was the best knowledge of the state of supplies forward and at the depot, as well as the capacity of the cars. Newspapers are a kind of freight, and as such I do not object to the quartermaster at Nashville shipping any number of bundles consigned to any of the posts forward, because they occupy little space, and the bulk of such newspapers cannot materially affect the quantity of provisions shipped; but newsvenders, like any other merchants, must not travel in the cars to sell their good any more than grocers or hucksters. They may send bundles of their papers in the cars by consent of the quartermaster who loads the cars. Every army command can send his mail messengers daily each way, and these may carry papers as a part of the army mails, and the orders of Generals Thomas, Howard, and Schofield for offices and men are military orders of transportation that quartermasters will respect the same as mine. Passes to citizens as far as Chattanooga, in very limited numbers, may be granted by the authority of either of these army commanders, and they may send to the rear car-loads of prisoners, refugees and citizens, without limit, but I have ordered that on no pretense must citizens come this side of Chattanooga, for I find them useless mouths that we cannot afford to feed. My orders also are that offices must live on the soldier's ration; yet if the quartermaster at Nashville can keep our supplies up, and also send supplies to officers above the rations without interfering with the regular freight, he may do so. In other words, I hold the officers of the quartermaster's department responsible that the army stores take precedence of all other stores, and if he sends anything else he cannot allege it a s reason for a failure to keep up the regular supplies. The railroad has supplied us well, better than I expected, and I am willing to continue to trust the regular quartermasters who thus far have managed the business well. There is and can be no conflict of orders. No one can question my orders when they are positive, but I do not choose to make orders touching freight absolutely positive, save in large articles, such as cotton and produce, that would, if attempted, soon absorb our cars, and thereby diminish the ability of our railroad to handle the vast amount of supplies on which we depend. All I order as to newspapers is that no monopoly should be allowed, and officers can be supplied as in other mail matters, and venders may get the quartermaster at Nashville to carry their bundles, but not their carriers. These are superfluous.
W. T. SHERMAN,