Government employ whose work can be done by slaves or free negroes. In addition to thus substituting negroes for whites, I recommend the impressment to be extended far enough to provide a corps of laborers for the army to prevent the necessity of many of those temporary details that are now made to cut wood, work on roads, &c. I shall require a large force to build roads, cut and transport wood, and make other preparations for the supply and comfort of the troops at this place during the winter months. These preparations are absolutely necessary, or the health and efficiency of the army will be greatly impaired by exposure and accumulated labor.
It is impossible, also, owing to the proximity of the enemy, to take the troops from the lines, as was done last winter on the Rapidan, to do this work. Among other things that will have to be done in order to save our animals and procure adequate supplies of fuel, a short railroad will have to be constructed to connect us with suitable wood for fuel, the green pine around us being unfit for that purpose. I trust you will find means to give effect to these suggestions, if I am correct in my interpretation of the law. I inclose a copy of an order said to have been issued by General Kirby Smith, which seems to me to be in accordance with the law in the main, and would recommend that something of the same kind be done at once here.* I am informed that there is some legislation by the State on the subject of obtaining negro labor, and the Governor may, if applied to, lend us material assistance. I beg to assure you that it is, in my [opinion], necessary for us to use our negroes in this war if we would maintain ourselves and prevent them from being employed against us. I am confident that our people will contribute this species of property with as much willingness as they have all others, and no time should be lost in procuring the great addition to our resources which the use of our negroes can afford us.
With great respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
SEPTEMBER 21, 1864.
Please examine carefully both the suggestions and the law, and confer with me.
J. A. SEDDON,
ADJT. AND INSP. GENERAL'S OFFICE,
Richmond, September 20, 1864.
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IV. The several assistant quartermasters now on duty with regiments or battalions of infantry belonging to General G. T. Beauregard's command, are relieved from their present service, as contemplated in the third section of the act of Congress, approved June 14, 1864 (Numbers 14, General Orders, Numbers 53, current series), and the following-named officers now serving with said commands are reassigned to duty as hereinafter indicated:
*See General Orders, Numbers 55, July 20, Vol. XLI, Part II, p. 1014.