ened the force there (Belle Isle) by a detachment of 200 men from the heavy artillery battalions of the Richmond defenses. You will observe from report that five-eighths of Colonel Duke's battalion are absent without my knowledge. I do not question the right of the general commanding the reserves to give such leaves under paragraph XIV of General Orders, Numbers 57, but it is and inconvenience to be unable to estimate what may be the strength of the command upon any given day in the future, not knowing to what extent it may be in this way depleted. This battalion was ordered to the city to supply the place of the Sixtieth Alabama Regiment. The letter had been ordered here, before my arrival, in place of the Twenty-fifth or City Battalion, as it was called. The Sixtieth Alabama was ordered by General Ewell to report to General Hampton at the time of the Sheridan raid. Upon my application for a force, the city them being entirely destitute of Confederate troops, this battalion of reserves was verbally ordered to Richmond by General Heth or General G. W. C. Lee for duty during what I then thought was the temporary absence of the Sixtieth Alabama.
To judge by the inclosed report Colonel Duke's battalion, in a strict sense, is not a part of the command of the post commandant. Of Colonel Moore I have no official knowledge. I believe he has been assigned to the command of the troops (reserves) from which, for the most part, the guards for the city are drawn. He does not report to me, nor do I in any way exercise control over him. Guards are also furnished from the First and Nineteenth Virginia Militia, commanded respectively by Colonels Danforth and Evans. These regiments are also portions of Colonel Moore's command. I, therefore, have exclusively under my command the President's Guards, consisting of two officers and thirty-eight men (present, sick, and absent), all disabled or recommended for light duty; a detachment of one officer, three non-commissioned officers, and thirteen privates of the Twenty-fifth Virginia Battalion on duty at the city mills, and sixteen disabled soldiers at the C. S. barracks (Soldiers' Home), commanded by Lieutenant Bates, and the detachment of artillery soldiers at Belle Isle. For the convenience of furnishing rations and supplies to the latter, and to avoid having two separate and distinct commands on the island, I have directed that it be taken up on Colonel Duke's report. I suppose it is necessary only to point out this mixed-up state of things to secure the remedy. To illustrate how impossible it is to get along in this way I shall state that a few days since aa soldier on guard at the Libby Prison and belonging to the command of Colonel Moore was arrested by Major Turner, the commandant, and charges were preferred against him. Colonel Moore recommended that the charges be withdrawn, giving no reason for his recommendation. I therefore forwarded them, with a request that they be tried. Two days after an order was received from Colonel Moore withdrawing them. This was also forwarded. I understand that the Secretary of War has decided that General Kemper commands the reserves as a separate army. I have nothing to say to the propriety of this. Should General Lee detach from his army one or more battalions for duty at this post, during the time they were so detached they would be immediately under the command of the post commander. The same, I should think, would obtain with regard to the reserves, and is the case at Danville. As it stands now, I am called the post commander, and would be looked to by the Government for the interior protection of the city should the prisoners break out or should anything else occur requiring the exercise of military force. I cannot consent to occupy this anomalous position longer.