commander, General Johnson. It was strongly and ardently attached to its organization, was composed almost exclusively of men from the same region of country, and in numerical strength was superior to any other brigade in the division to which it was attached. Its dismemberment under such circumstances will be interpreted by the country and army as a reflection upon the officers and men of the brigade, and do them an injustice, which they will not have it in their power to repair. I speak from information only as to its numerical strength. When it entered the Valley last spring it numbered about 2,000, and though its losses were heavy, it numbered at the time of its dismemberment 700 present for duty, and 600 absent on special daily. This did not embrace the Sixty-fourth Regiment and Thirty-fourth Battalion (Colonel Witcher's), numbering together at least 700 men, then operating in Southwest Virginia. It may be that General Early did not advert to this last-mentioned fact when he made the order. I regret to hear that five companies from the Eighth Regiment, principally from the Kanawha Valley, have left and gone to their homes. I trust it may not be true. Some of these companies I knew, and I knew no more faithful or enterprising men. The regiment was at first attached to General Jenkins' brigade, and manifested much dissatisfaction when taken from his command. Their dissatisfaction, however, ended in complaints.
This last cause of complaint has been followed by much more serious consequences. I hope the account may be found to have been exaggerated. If true, would it not be well before these men are noticed or treated as deserters, that stops should be taken to reconcile and reclaim them? It has been suggested that this can be done by ordering that the brigade be reorganized, and sending it to Southwest Virginia to winter. It will enable it to get their horses in fine condition for the spring campaign; will enable [it] to make important additions in the way of recruits, whilst at the same time important service can be rendered by it in gathering up stragglers and deserters and correcting the disorders which prevail in that unhappy section of the State. I conclude that such aid would be very acceptable to General Breckinridge, as he remarked in a late communication to me that if things got much worse he would not have men enough to whip the deserters, stragglers, and plunderers in that region.
In writing this I am not prompted by a desire to promote the wishes of an officer or man connected with the brigade, but with a sole view to save to the service men can be made valuable.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. T. CAPERTON.
Secretary of War, for attention and remarks.
JANUARY 1, 1865.
Have you any official reports or information on this subject? If so, submit. What do you advise?
J. A. S.,
76 R R-VOL XLVI, PT II