horses essential to the conduct of their agricultural operations, there must be a corresponding reduction of supplies of food for man and horse. Convinced as I am that the best and only means of procuring the needed supply of animals are those that I have indicated, feeling deeply the pressure of the demands made and to be made on me to furnish such supplies, dreading the consequences of a failure to furnish what will be required, and fearful that I may be exposed to censure for such failure, I respectfully urge that I may be immediately put in possession of the necessary means to carry into effect the plans for providing the animals needed, than which I confers myself unable to suggest any other, or that, in case it shall be decided that my plans are impracticable and the means I ask for cannot be furnished, that I may be relieved from the duty I am now performing and some one be appointed in my stead who can dispense with what I consider and have stated to be very indispensable to enable me to successfully perform the duty.
I think it proper to again repeat what I have before applied to have done in order to secure the needed supplies.
First. With respect to the operations in Mexico and Texas, I estimated that the sun of $250,000 in gold per quarter would enable me obtain about 15,000 animals at a rate of $70 per head. I was informed by our that this amount would be furnished by the Treasury. I received letters of credit for the first installment and sent it to Texas by Major W. J. Harris. The further amounts will be required from time to time. An officer to conduct and manage the business is wanted; one possessing the qualifications which I had the honor to state I deemed requisite. No one has yet been assigned to the duty. Nothing can be done until such officer arrives in Texas.
Second. The purchase of horses and mules to be delivered in Mississippi from the enemy's lines to be successful must be conducted on the simplest plan. The officer who receives the horses must have in his hands the cotton to make instant payments; it must be at suitable points for being carried off easily; he must not be trammeled by officers of other branches of the service, and be so situated as to be able to fulfill his engagements promptly; and surely, if he is to get the cotton paid through Treasury agents and be governed by them as to the price he is to pay for horses, he will fail to carry out the object.
Third. To obtain horses in Virginia, gold or Federal money is essential. They can be purchased for gold at rates below those prevailing before the war. This is not the case with any articles of military supplies obtained by the Government in the Confederate States or from abroad. I am informed by the officers who have been directed to ascertain what can be done in the matter of obtaining horses from the country in possession of the enemy that 2,000 horses can be had in a short space of time if the money can be supplied. The price to be paid is not greater than that contemplated to be given in Mexico. I beg leave to respectfully request that I may be officially informed as soon as possible what is decided in reference to the before-mentioned subjects, in order that I may be enabled to give General Lee an exact statement to what extent he can rely upon this office for the animals deemed by Colonel Corley, chief quartermaster of the Army of Northern Virginia, necessary to place it on the proper footing for active service in the spring. I have been unable so far the reply to the inquiries made of me by General Lee and by his authority, for the reason that no action had been taken upon the matters herein stated as remaining open for determination.
A. H. COLE,
Major and Inspector-General of Transportation.