HDQRS. DEPT. OF WEST VIRGINIA AND EAST TENNESSEE,
Wytheville, February 17, 1865.
Colonel W. H. TAYLOR,
COLONEL: My information from Brigadier-General Vaughn, received last night, is that everything is still quiet in East Tennessee and, that there are no indications of a very early advance from that quarter either upon Southwestern Virginia or upon Salisbury, N. C. When I was in East Tennessee a week ago, General Waughn's report was that there were at Knoxville, and this side of that place, about 4,000 infantry (one-third of them black troops as a garrison at Knoxville) and 1,500 cavalry, none of them nearer to our lines than a point thirty miles this side of Knoxville. My scouts go on one road regularly to Rogersville, and occasionally to Blain's Cross-Roads, within seventeen miles of Knoxville, and on the other road to Greeneville and Warrensburg. I have received a copy of the order from Adjutant and Inspector General's Office directing Colonel Chandler to report to me as inspector of this department, for which I thank the general, as I expect great good to result from his services. I hope that he may soon report. Upon consultation with Major Shelby, chief commissary of the department and in anticipation of scarcity of provisions soon for the Army of Northern Virginia and further to prevent the operations of speculators and hoarders of supplies, I have issued an order direting the collection by the field commissaries of 2,000,000 of rations and their storage in perfectly secure localities to provide against any contingencies. Major Shelby assures me that it can be done, and I hope in this way, with the results to be achieved by the purchasing commissary to be able to contribute materially to the support of the Army of Northern Virginia. Major Shelby is a man of energy and I have confidence in his fulfilling his promises without oppression to the people. I have had 1,000 copies of General Orders, Numbers 2, from your headquarters, printed in hand-bill form for distribution throughout every county in this department, and anticipate good results therefrom. One of my principal difficulties now is the want of horses for my artillery. There are only twenty-one horses for the artillery now in the department, and in the event of active operations I should be greatly perplexed by this want. I could now purchase a sufficient number of horses, but under existing orders the duty of purchasing and furnishing horses is confined to Major Paxton, and field quartermasters are not permitted to purchase. Major Paxton has no horses, and upon my application to him to give his agent in this department orders to purchase, he informs me that he has no money. If the money could be furnished now I could get the horses, but if there is delay in the matter it will be very difficult to obtain them. Major Page is now in Lynchburg endeavoring to make arrangements about this matter, but he telegraphs me this evening that he can do nothing. I would be glad if the general could aid me in obtaining the necessary orders to supply this want. My examining board is hard at work preparing for the consolidation of commands as soon as the same is authorized by Congress. I shall start to-morrow to the northern portion of the department, so that I may be fully advised of the condition and wants of all of the commands by personal inspection.
I am, colonel, very respectfully,