War of the Rebellion: Serial 086 Page 0785 Chapter LIII. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.- UNION.

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commanders they want to keep what they have and get all they can. This will not be the case with Dodge, who has been appointed to command Missouri, nor will it be with Pope.




New Orleans, La., December 7, 1864.


Washington, D. C.:

SIR: Mr. Cutler, the purchasing agent of the Treasury Department, appointed under the authority of the eighth section of the act of Congress approved July 2, 1864, has just handed me a copy of an Executive order, dated September 24, 1864, and of War Department General Orders, Numbers 285, dated October 6, 1864, in relation to the purchase of products of the insurrectionary districts. Neither of these orders has been communicated to me officially, nor, so far as I can learn, to any military officer in this command. A copy of the Executive order was sent to me some days since from Memphis, where it had been printed and extensively circulated by the purchasing agent for that place. The operation of this order is contingent by the eighth section upon the orders to be given by the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy, but he general orders of the War Department have been received in due sequence to the 14th of November, and no order corresponding in number, date, or matter with the order submitted by Mr. Cutler is found amongst them. Without waiting for the official receipt of this order I shall at once give such orders as may be necessary to secure a due observance of the Executive order of September 24 and the Treasury regulations of the same date, and while carrying out the policy adopted by the Government will endeavor to exact reciprocal obligation of good faith on the part of the trader; but in justice to the troops in this command, and to myself, it is proper that I should submit for your consideration some facts connected with the present military situation, and the embarrassment to military operations, which will, in my judgment, inevitably follow the opening of this trade. On the 1st of July last the forces under my command numbered 242,956. It is now, by transfers to the Armies of the Potomac and the Tennessee, by discharges, deaths, and other casualties, reduced to 174,396. The rebel armies within or bordering on this command have in the same time been largely increased in number, but from the want of supplies not proportionately in strength and efficiency. Then I could have placed in the field 50,000 men, now I cannot place 20,000 in the field without endangering the safety of the important garrisons to a serous extent. Under the pressure occasioned by the withdrawal of troops from West Tennessee I have been obliged to disintegrate temporarily the reserve force of the division in order to support points which are threatened by the enemy, and it is now distributed along the course of the Ohio and the Mississippi, from Paducah, Ky., to Baton Rouge, La.

Under instructions from General Grant, and in accordance with suggestions from General Sherman, the greater part of the cavalry force of the division is now actively engaged in operations against the communications in rear of Hood's army. To meet these requirements I have been obliged to break up posts of minor importance, and to weaken the garrisons of others. The success of these operations depends in a great measure upon the secrecy and expedition with which they are conducted.