Am in hopes of making something out of it. Its physique is as good as any battalion of my command. Its morale, however, is, or has bee, desperately bad. It is increasing almost every day by absentees coming up. I find these people very patriotic, and willing to contribute their sons and their substance to the cause, but their condition will be most destitute and employable if the present conscript laws are strictly enforced in this country. There are an unusually small number of old men who are mechanics and artisans,and fewer negroes here, owing to their proximity to the enemy. This being so, it will almost be indispensable to the public economy of this country to make a detail of a few of the most useful tanners, shoemakers, blacksmiths, millers, &c. If such details are not admissible by the War Department I would think it advisable to give these people advantage of the exception to this extent, due their location as in neutral territory. Please inform me what can be done in the premises. Lieutenant Heslpe, enrolling officer for this county, has arrived; is not yet posted sufficiently in his new duties and new district to give me the desired information. The enemy recently made some slight demonstration from Cumberland Gap and Tazewell, East Tenn., but accomplished nothing but the arrest of one citizen. The garrison of Tazewell is composed almost entirely of deserters from our army, and, if permitted to remain here fifteen days longer, shall try and "take them in." Captain Thompson, of Twenty-fifth Virginia, and Captain Tyler, of Sixty-fourth Virginia, both recently deserted to the enemy at the Gap. I was endeavoring to arrest Tyler but he had too many friends, and escaped. The people here are very anxious for the permanent occupation of this county. This county is unfortunately located, being surrounded on almost every side by an enemy's country or disloyal neighbors, and subject to continual depredations. Therefore, I would suggest the propriety and expediency of arming the reserves and leaving them here for home defense. I am very thankful for your recommendation for my promotion and very flattering notice of my services, &c. Shall spare no exertion to justify your king mention of my merits and qualifications.
Ever truly, yours, &c.,
H. L. GILTNER,
P. S.-It would be a very great favor if Major McMahon could send my quota of clothing to the terminus of the macadamized road at Seven-Mile Ford. It is sixty-five miles from my headquarters to Abingdon, over a very rough, bad road, and my teams will be very much exhausted by the time they reach there, and my transportation is very limited anyhow. Major Clarke, quartermaster, will want some quartermaster's funds, as he has had none for four months, and needs it very much. It is hoped Major McMahon will be able to supply him.
H. L. GILTNER,
STAUNTON, VA., February 26, 1865.
(Received 11.15 27th.)
Major J. S. JOHNSTON:
If you have not received orders to report elsewhere, I desire you to remain where you are as assistant adjutant-general if it suits you, as it will be necessary for me to have an officer in Southwestern Virginia.