rests on a most precarious foundation. The instant passage of the amendment of the Tithe bill, and its active execution; the exercise of authority to impress teams along the line of roads to bring supplies forward; the furnishing of some coin and of sufficient funds to purchase articles of barter and to pay for 4,000 bales of cotton immediately, and to purchase supplies throughout the land, are all indispensable at this juncture.
It is also necessary that the management of the Danville and Piedmont Railroad shall be rendered efficient, and that we shall hold the south-western counties of Virginia and those in North Carolina lying adjacent. In that section of country arrangements have been instituted by Major Shelby to send forward supplies to this army. This is especially importance since the loss of East Tennessee, where operations had been set on foot of a most promising character.
I make no suggestions here as to the alternative of impressment and uniformity of prices on the one hand, or on the other of taxation so heavy as to compel the sale of supplies and prevent hoarding, either by agriculturists or dealers. I have, under existing laws, given my judgment on these points to the Secretaries of War and the Treasury heretofore. I suppose these matters are now well matured in the minds of those whose business it is to delay with them. I, however, present my circular of 5th September, 1864, which could not be made effective by me.
The arrangements and organization of this bureau are believed to be complete, at least I cannot devise any more effective to glean the whole country. I would here suggest that the officers of the tax in kind be directed to report no district impracticable until after conference with the chief quartermaster and chief commissary of the State in which it lies. The only substitute for the system of this bureau is the contract system, which is impracticable when the only competition existing is one between buyers anxious to convert depreciating currency in appreciating commodities. Moreover, contractors, having no certainty of sufficient transportation or suitable employed, could not be relied on to fulfill their obligations. This bureau system requires agents who are zealous, indefatigable, physically enduring, intelligent, acquainted with the laws and regulations of the bureau, and possessing tact. They must have a personal interest in doing well, such as the alternative of serving advantageously, or being conscribed. Cripples and feeble men cannot be made to work beyond what their feelings prompt, and exempts with the requisite qualifications can do much better for themselves in the employment of individuals, and if they stay in the service will not be controlled.
This bureau and its officers have been harassed and their time (and that of the Secretary of War) consumed in vain in correspondence with the enrolling officers for necessary detailed employed and in the consideration of applications of captains of companies sent up through generals commanding armies for the return of their men so detailed.
If the chief of the bureau cannot be trusted to do all in his power to put men in the field consistently with his duty of feeding the army, then he had better be substituted by some one who can.
The ravages of the enemy destroying the fruits of the earth, the appliances for production, and stock animals persisted in by them, in order to starve us and to exclude us from all territory entered by them, is an impediment to subsistence which I have (from their first experiment to test our endurance on this point) represented to be fatal if permitted, but which can always be stopped by that side when the neces-