teenth, were assigned to commands from Southwest Virginia. One of those mentioned was assigned to Lomax's old brigade, serving in the Valley, and the other to Chambliss', serving with this army. Neither were taken from the Valley, however, during the late campaign. The reason for placing these two regiments in other than western commands was that they were understood to be composed to some extent of men raised in the eastern part of the State.
It will thus be seen that the disbandment of the brigade implies no reflection upon officers or men, but was occasioned by the requirements of the service. Nor do I think such an inference the natural one, as it is a thing that frequently occur in some of the best organizations in the army, with a view to promote efficiency.
If it be true that five companies have left the Eighth Regiment I have had no report of the fact, and I doubt not it is one of the many exaggerations circulated to impair the resolution of the army and the people. But should it be the case, it dies not recommend the men who may be guilty to my consideration. I should certainly prefer to be without them entirely to the consequences of yielding to their contumacy and insubordination. We have already suffered greatly from permitting organizations to be formed with an understanding that they shall serve in certain localities. It has been found that they are nearly lost to the general service, and when the enemy concentrates against any part of our territory it is almost impossible to get men organized for service in other localities to leave them to oppose him. There is a natural preference to serve in the vicinity of their homes, and such organizations encourage the desire, cause men to desert from the general service, and make others dissatisfied. I do not doubt but that we have lost more men by the system than we have gained. I could not, therefore, do anything that looks like encouraging a system that I am extremely anxious to eradicate. If these men are permitted to serve where they wish to allay discontent, it would encourage others to seek the same privilege by the same means, and the army would be disbanded; and, least of all, should such a privilege be accorded to those who carry their discontent to the extremity of desertion. Every man who may wish to get home to serve would only have to desert and join some command agreeable to him. We can accomplish nothing in this way. We must be able to place our whole strength wherever the enemy may threaten, and not scatter it over all points that may be most agreeable to the men. These views are the results of experience, and I am satisfied of their correctness.
I inclose Mr. Caperton's letter.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
RICHMOND, December 1, 1864.
TO THE PRESIDENT:
SIR: I have heard from various sources that great dissatisfaction exists upon the part of officers and men who belonged to the late brigade commanded by General Bradley Johnson, which was broken up by General Early and different commands belonging to it divided among other cavalry brigades. This brigade had acquired a high reputation while under the command of the lamented General William E. Jones, and had lost nothing of that reputation under the leadership of its late