WASHINGTON, January 8, 1865
GENERAL: Your letter of the 6th in regard to the cavalry horses has been shown to Mr. Dana, and he agrees with me that action should be postponed till the Secretary of War and General Meigs return. I fear that there will be very serious difficulties in foraging the animals we now have to supply the North and East. The crop of hay is very short; in some places not one-third of the usual mowing. Our official reports state that nearly all the hay along the railroad lines has already been cleaned out. Farmers were obliged to send their produce to market early in order to raise money to pay heavy local taxes for bounties to volunteers; many have also sold their teams. The rivers and canals are closed by ice, and the country roads in New York and the New England States have been very bad. Many of the railroads have more than they can do with passengers and private freight. All these causes combined have affected, and will, during the winter,still more seriously affect, our supply of forage. Without the greatest care and energy we shall not be able to feed the animals we have on hand. You complain of a want of forage on the James. We are much of the time here on half rations. Sherman's army at Savannah complained, although we sent much more forage there than you directed. In fine, there is a scarcity of forage everywhere at the North. Private gentlemen and omnibus and city railroad companies say that they can scarcely procure enough in market for their private animals. Under these circumstances due precaution should be taken not to purchase cavalry horses till they are absolutely required, otherwise large numbers will actually starve or be of little or no use. In respect to the West and Southwest, the difficulty of foraging is not so great, and purchases can be continued, at least for a time. All cavalry horses purchased there have been sent to General Thomas' command to the entire exclusion of General Canby's division. The issue of cavalry horses to the troops in Kentucky and Tennessee from October 1 to December 31 has been 28, 189, in addition to seizures in the field. Within this period of three months our loss in killed, starved, and broken down has probably been not less than 10,000, and General Wilson asks that number be supplied immediately by impressing, if necessary, horses in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. At this rate of accumulating and destroying horses, it will soon be impossible to supply either forage or horses in the West. Letters from General Thomas' army state that his very large cavalry force has been actually injurious to the movements of that army by blocking up the roads with its supply trains.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General and Chief of Staff.
CITY POINT, VA., January 8, 1865-10 p.m.
(Received 4 a.m. 9th.)
Captain GEORGE K. LEET,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Washington, D. C.:
Send back General Butler's report of the Wilmington expedition to me; I wish to change the indorsement. If you have already delivered it to the Secretary of War, please call for it in my name and return it.
U. S. GRANT,