troops from the same State into maximum regiments. Hatch is available to make up the detachment from your command directed in Lieutenant-General Grant's instructions of this date.* I shall have to keep Johnson's division for service in East Tennessee and North Georgia.
GEO. H. THOMAS,
Major-General, U. S. Army, Commanding.
MACON, GA., May 24, 1865.
Brevet Major-General WILSON:
GENERAL: Cobb, Fulton, Clayton, and contiguous counties in this State, by reason of both Northern and Southern armies having been quartered therein for several weeks, are totally destitute of the means for support only as supplies are shipped in from a distance. In these counties reside about 15,000 poor and penniless men, women, and children, who must, of necessity, starve unless the public shall supply their wants. The corn we have on hand cannot sustain life but a few days longer. We have no cheering prospects of getting more. Our agents, whom we sent out under your first orders touching the support of the poor, are now returning with reports of no public corn off the line of the railroads can by had. The credit of the State is not only paralyzed but thoroughly suspended; the country well nigh drained of supplies, and those who have cannot be reached by the cries of the poor for bread. We wish, therefore, to impress upon your mind that unless you can afford speedy relief the human mind cannot possibly comprehend the suffering which must soon befall these sections of fearful desolation. We would here respectfully remark that your troops in Atlanta have recently used up the corn bought purposely and solely for these devastated sections (between 5,000 and 7,000 bushels), which, is speedily returned, would aid much in mitigating the threatened famine. If you should find it impossible to replace the entire amount of corn so used, we would then beg of you to loan us a small sum of current funds, say about $10,000, so we could, without delay, send agents to such points where corn could be purchased. If we should be asked how these funds, if loaned, could be replaced, we reply from the sale of State quartermaster and commissary stores and such as we may collect throughout the State under your late orders as are not needed to sustain life. Again, we may be asked why not, then, sell or barter these stores at once and supply the poor with corn without seeking to borrow the funds. We reply that the immediate wants of the poor will not admit of such delay as would be required. We would remark that the destitution of the poor throughout the State is great and calls for speedy relief, but it is believed that the danger of immediate starvation is not so imminent elsewhere as in the desolated regions already referred to, and from which these people could not flee if an Egypt at a distance should be opened for their escape. General, be not angry at our entreaties. We cannot believe you will be, nor that our appeals will be made in vain.
Your obedient servant,
IRA R. FOSTER,
Quartermaster-General of Georgia.
J. H. R. WASHINGTON,
U. S. Agent.
* See May 23, 9.10 a.m., p. 882.