War of the Rebellion: Serial 096 Page 1214 N. AND SE. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter LVIII.

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gather, and, as controlling transportation, its officers naturally serve that department first, especially in wagon transportation for hauling in from the country. The Secretary of War must be a center of unity to all the subordinate branches of his department. Had this been effectually acted on, it is probable that the supplies of this bureau, now at the islands, would have been brought in. Without the appliances to buy, fabricate, and transport, necessary results cannot be achieved; and where these appliances are not furnished in a measure commensurate with requirements, the essentials of food must be first sought, and when the means to procure even these are not adequately supplies, then the distribution of that which is procurable must be proportionately restricted.

I illustrate by stating that the adherence of this bureau (under the embarrassments referred) to the reduction of the mean ration, notwithstanding the urgent applications of General Lee, has alone enabled it to furnish meat thus far; and foreseeing the inevitable deficiency ahead, I asked the Secretary eight months ago to put the bread rations at one pound. He refused, and I did it on my own responsibility. This continued for some months, and General Lee at length urgently applied for increase; the Secretary of War also pressed it. I refused, unless positively ordered, in the face of my declaration that it was absolutely necessary to keep it at that point without due funds and improved transportation from the south. On 14th of December I recommended the reduction by general order, and he then reluctantly assented. Without this proceeding on my part this army would absolutely have been destitute. I mention this fact to exhibit the straits to which this bureau was driven under the embarrassment referred to above.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Commissary-General of Subsistence.


Richmond, February 13, 1865..

This paper was, as appears from its date, prepared on 9th instant, the circular having been received on 8th. Its delivery has been delayed to obtain the accompanying documents.


Commissary-General of Subsistence.

[Inclosure Numbers 1.] CIRCULAR.] BUREAU OF SUBSISTENCE, September 5, 1864.

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XIV. When enacting laws for impressment, Congress could not have expected impressing officers as a class to be competent to settle the meaning of the words "value or just compensation," since jurists and political economists have been unable to determine on a definition or principle of ascertaining the just value of an article. Under these circumstances Congress enacted that commissioners, jointly chosen by the Confederate and State executives, should at intervals fix the value of commodities, as the best mode of settling what was just compensation and thus fulfilling the constitutional requirement in cases of impressment. The schedules fixed by these boards for the respective States, monthly, were objected to be certain parties, and the objection sustained