War of the Rebellion: Serial 099 Page 1312 Chapter LIX] OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., GA., AND E. FLA.

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STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT,

Raleigh, March 2, 1865.

General R. E. LEE:

DEAR SIR: Yours has been received, giving me the distressing intelligence of the increase of desertion from our armies. I had heard from other sources of this defection of our troops and was already too well aware that the cause of it was to be fould in the general public despondency. I inaugurated a series of public meetings in this State, by my recent proclamation, for the purpose of reviving public sentiment, and though many have held and many more will be held, yet the near and triumphant approach of the enemy has so alarmed the timid and so engrosed the loyal in preparation for his coming, that I fear they will hardky have their proper effect. I have myself been so busy in trying to organiye my militia and secure my vast public stores that I have only been able to address the people at two or three points. Rest assured, however, general, that I am fully alive to the importance of the crisis, and whatever man can do in my situation shall be done. I shall now order out in every county that class of the home guard not subject to duty in the field, and put them to work arresting deserters. In many counties, however, they are necessarily inefficient from the great number of the deserters and the natrural fear of the destruction of their property, &c. If you could send me as many as two regiments of cavalry, by quartering them in the midst of these disaffected districts and foraging upon the friends of the deserters, they could not only arrest many, but could recruit themselves and horses, restore confidence, and inspire with courage the local forces. I earnestly recommed this action, general, and think in the long run it would not weaken your army. I think our people will respond liberally to the appeal for supplies, which I have just published this mornining at the instance of the Secretary of War. The first a, two hours after its appearance in the morning papers, was from a poor widiw of this city, who, hard pressed to live in these distressing times, as I know she is, came yet to offer me two pieces of bacon and a barrel of meal. Such offerings, on the sacred altar of country, hallow our cause, and I hope will secure Gold's blessing upon it.

Very truly, yours,

Z. B. VANCE.

P. S. -I send you a copy of my appeal to the people of my State.

Z. B. V.

His Excellency Z. B. VANCE, Raleigh, N. C.:

I find that not the War Department but General Beauregard ordered the widening of the railroad. I consider the extension of the work to Danville a military necessity.

J. E. JOHNSTON.

HEADQUARTERS,

March 2, 1865.

General J. E. JOHNSTON:

I have notified Governor Vance that the Quartermaster-General and I both deem very important that the widening of the gauge should continue to Danville if possible.

R. E. LEE.