SPECIAL ORDERS, HDQRS. DEPT. OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, Numbers 55. February 28, 1865.
XV. Major General Bryan Grimes, Provisional Army, C. S., is hereby assigned to the command of Rodes' old division, Second Corps, and will report accordingly.
By command of General R. E. Lee:
W. H. TAYLOR,
HEADQUARTERS ARTILLERY, FIRST CORPS,
February 28, 1865.
GENERAL: I received this morning your note directing me to turn over four 3-inch rifles to the cavalry; but while making arrangements to execute it, I beg to submit that it will seriously weaken my rifle armament, already, I believe, the weakest in the army. The 10-pounder Parrotts in my command I have condemned entirely, and have made arrangements with the Ordnance Department to exchange them all for 24-pounder howitzers, having found it impossible to get satisfactory firing from them, and I hope to be rid of every one when we take the field. I have only six now, including two in Hardaway's battalion; this will leave with sixty-four smooth-bores, eighteen 3-inch rifles, and five Armstrong and one Whitworht in Cabell's, Huger's, Haskell's, Hardaway's, Stark's and Johnson's battalions the Armstrong and Whitworth are only temporary guns, as the ammunition for the former is limited, and when it is gone I wish to replace them all with smooth-bores, which will give seventy smooth-bores and eighteen rifles a proportion of rifles which I think you will agree with me is too small to be diminished. Should Owen's battalion return in place of any other it will diminish the proportion of rifles, as it has none, and should Hardaway rejoin his corps he will take away six of the eighteen 3-inch. Many of my smooth-bores will also be howitzers of less range than Napoleons. I do not like any rifle with our ammunition, but must have some Cannot the cavalry take 12-pounder howitzers? I consider them the best gun for their service, and would prefer them to anything were I in that arm. Our 3-inch have no shrapnel; their shell very defective and uncertain, even when they explode at all, and you know the frequent complaint on this head and their canister is very small and inferior. The Yankees have shrapnel and canister with lead balls, and thus use them very efficiently, but our 3-inch are not their 3-inch by a great deal. The 12-pounder howitzer is lighter, its ammunition cheaper and more abundant; it formidable shrapnel; its shell seldom ever fails, and its canister is but little inferior to that of Napoleons. Where guns have to protect themselves against a charge of either infantry or cavalry, I believe the 12-pounder howitzer superior to the Napoleon and worth twice its number of 3-inch rifles. Is not this gun better adapter to the service of cavalry than a gun whose only recommendation its has a very long range and one-half of whose projectiles never burst (and when one does burst it does not make a dozen fragments), and which is very dangerous to our own men when fired over their heads? I have entire forbidden their use by my battalions over our infantry.