HEADQUARTERS FOR COLLECTING ABSENTEES,
FROM COMMANDS EAST OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Alexandria, LA., November 23, 1864.
General BRAXTON BRAGG, Richmond, Va.:
GENERAL: Lest my late communications to you may have miscarried, I avail myself of the departure of Captain Gruber for Richmond to report in brief their tenor, to wit: That the reports made to me by the officers detailed in Texas and Arkansas confirm the apprehensions expressed in my communication of September 20; that the effect of General Orders, Numbers 72, of this department would be to render our efforts for the collection of absentees in those States of but little avail. All of those officers report that they find their men with but few exceptions assigned to commands on this side. Not only have we to contend against such assignments made prior to our arrival here, but in several instances such assignments have been made of men after they had reported to us in obedience to the orders I had issued upon the subject. Unless the department has [instructed], or may conclude to instruct, General Smith to withdraw the obstacles he has thrown in our way and give us his co-operation, I beg leave respectfully to repeat my suggestion that a further prosecution of our mission will yield but indifferent results. I have now about eighty men, Louisianians, in camp at this place, and am only awaiting the continuance of a few days' fair weather to render travel through the swamps practicable before sending them on. To some forty others who have reported I have given short furloughs to proceed to their homes and procure necessary clothing. Lieutenant-Colonel Standifer, of the Twelfth Louisiana, is also daily expected with about ninety of his command. I have found it necessary, to order Captain J. F. Gruber, assistant quartermaster, who was assigned to duty with me by the Secretary of War, to proceed to Richmond for the purpose of getting funds required by us. The officers who have been sent over to report to me have been subjected to much expense in prosecuting their journey from the terminus of railroad communication. Many of them write to me that they find it impossible to travel in pursuit of their absentees without the means of paying their expenses, and in the absence of any Government transportation for that purpose many of them will be actually without the means of effecting the transmit of the Mississippi on their return, unless provision is made for the refunding of the means already expended by them or for furnishing them their pay. Funds are actually needed for this purpose as well as for meeting other expenditures involved in our enterprise. Application for these funds have been urgently made both to department and district headquarters, but have been denied from inability to respond to them. Captain Gruber will explain to you more fully the circumstances which have made his mission to the capital a necessity.
I have the honor to remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HARRY T. HAYS,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS,
Lewisville, November 23, 1864.
Major FARRAR, or
COMMANDING OFFICER OF PARSONS' REGIMENT:
MAJOR: You will countermarch your troops and proceed to Ashley County, Ark., without a moment's delay, taking such route as you may
68 R R-VOL XLI, PT IV