HEADQUARTERS FORCES FRONT LINES,
Alexandria, May 17, 1865.
Colonel L. A. BRINGIER,
Commanding Seventh Louisiana Cavalry:
COLONEL: General Brent has directed me in his temporary absence to open all communication to him marked "personal" or "private," and, if they related to official matters requiring immediate attention, to refer them to Colonel Vincent, commanding the front. In accordance with those instructions Your communication of the 16th instant was referred to Colonel Vincent, who would respectfully direct You to use Your own discretion in granting leaves of absence to Your men for such time and purpose as You think best consistent with preserving Your regimental organization. Indeed, with the whole country filled with deserters with arms in their hands, the question would naturally arise whether many of those who have thus far Remained true and fast to their colors should not be allowed to go home to defend their families. The fact can no longer be concealed that the whole army and people, with scarce an individual exception, are resolved to fight no more, and to break up the army at all hazards. All is confusion and demoralization here, nothing like order or discipline remains. Heavy desertions and plundering of Government property of every kind is the order of the day. There are but eighty-six enlisted men at the forts. All the commands of every arm of the service at and near Alexandria are destroyed, viz: Yoist's and McMahan's batteries; the heavy artillery and infantry at the forts; the Third and Fifth Louisiana Cavalry. The Second Louisiana Cavalry still retains its organization, but there have been heavy desertions, the men are thoroughly demoralized, and all may leave at any moment; in a word, colonel, the army is destroyed and we must look the matter square in the face and shape our actions (personally and officially) accordingly. The colonel commanding commends You highly for Your success in preserving thus long Your organization and so many men. He thinks that all that can be expected of You is to use every mild and conciliatory means to preserve Your regiment organization, but any violent measures to restrain desertions now is believed both by him and General Brent to be conducive of no good results, and would only tend to exasperate the soldiery and cause them to commit many depredations on citizens, besides endangering the lives of officers uselessly. The colonel commanding hopes the tenor of this communication will be properly understood; it is designed to be merely advisory, and You are left free to act as You think best, and at the same time to preserve Your regimental organization.
D. F. BOYD,
CONFIDENTIAL.] FOR WASHITA, May 17, 1865.
Captain T. M. SCOTT,
CAPTAIN: Your note of the 14th urging my return to headquarters has just been received. I wrote You by Dixie and also by Colonel Weissenger. I know it would be very desirable that I should be at Doaksville, but it is more necessary that I should be at or near the post of danger. A man should be endowed with ubiquity to keep matters moving along quietly in this district at present. I have written