SUBSISTENCE DEPARTMENT, C. S. A.,
Richmond, February 9, 1865.
Honorable JOHN C. BRECKINRIDGE,
Secretary of War:
SIR: In response to your circular of 7th instant, received yesterday, I have the honor to submit for your consideration the papers herewith inclosed, with the following remarks:
During the past fifteen months it has been my duty to make many and most urgent representations to the War Department of the danger of want impending over the troops of the Army of Northern Virginia, and also of the stringent necessity (for the safety of Richmond, of the State of Virginia, and probably of the Confederacy) that accumulations of supplies should be made in this city. The obstacles in the way of this and the plans to surmount those obstacles have been pressed repeatedly and the needed requirements urged. In my communications and indorsement to the Secretaries of war and the Treasury, and to others, I have fully set forth these difficulties as indicated by circumstances and urged with pertinacity the adoption of measures to overcome them. The arguments used by me have been, in my judgment, incontrovertible, but have had but little effect, and the Army of Virginia has for several months suffered the consequence of their non-adoption, during which period it has been living literally "from hand to mouth." The other armies of the Confederacy have been differently circumstanced, and do not, for the present, so much suffer from local deficiency or insufficient means of transportation. During the whole of the year 1864 consumption has been much more rapid than collection, and accumulations already made, instead of being increased, were consumed. During the first three months of that year a larger amount of money (in old issue) was turned into the Treasury by the officers of the commissariat than was issued by it to them in the new, and since that time only a part of what was due has been paid. As a consequence, their indebtedness has become overwhelming, until everywhere credit was lost, and supplies which might have been obtained for the subsistence of the army passed into other hands.
The same state of affairs, to even a greater extent, exists now in the period of collection, and, as a consequence of the lack of money and credit, not one-fifth of the hogs which could have been secured have been or will be obtained for the army. Supplies which had been purchased at the islands to bridge over to the incoming crop of meat have not been brought in and are now not available. Repeated orders for their shipment were without effect, and plans proposed by this bureau to secure that object have not been permitted or have been frustrated by circumstances beyond the control of the bureau.
The retention of many thousand of prisoners of war in this city caused the consumption of our reserve of flour, deficient transportation preventing their entire subsistence on corn from the south, as had been intended. The supply of the Army of Northern Virginia requires special consideration, for the ravages of the enemy in the country in which it operates have left not a fully supply even for the non-combatants; hence its basis of supply are very remote, and that supply must be contingent on the means of collecting in those remote localities as excess over the wants of the troops there operating. This army is also sustained by various contrivances to draw supplies from beyond our lines by barter and by secret arrangements with the enemy, turning on their anxiety to get cotton. For both these purposes funds and credit are both necessary; hence it is obvious that the subsistence of the army