Salem Church, about six miles from Fredericksburg. An important line of defense is laid our for General Pickett to work, and there is great insufficiency of the necessary tools, and it is important that he shuold have without delay all that can collected, and at as early an hour to-morrow as practicable. Please send them in charge of a reliable person, and have memorandum receipts taken of their delivery. The general also desire that you will for the present do General Pickett's picketing on the river while he is engaged on the work referred to. His regiments on that duty should be relieved to-morrow and sent to report to him at this new position.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servnat,
G. M. SORREL,
[25.] Assistant Adjutant-General.
[Indorsement Lee to Seddon, January 26, 1863, VOL. XXV, Part II, p. 597.]
January 28, 1863.
Fifteen months ago this Bureau foresaw that the supply of cattle in Virginia would be exhausted, and initiated an arrangement to bring hither cattle from Texas to be put on the grass lands of Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee for future use. The drought of the country provented it. The attempt was made and failed. The Secretary of War was asked early last spring to reduce the beef ration one-fourth of a pound, with an equivalent addition of flour, if required. This was done April 28. The meat has held out longer than was expected. On or about the same period the Commissary-General was sent for by the President to meet Colonel A. Cole, sent by General Johnston to ascertain the sources of supply for the army, then about to fall back on Richmond. In conference with General Lee and the President the subject was considered and future prospects set forth. In respect to the contemplated operations after General Lee took command the Commissary-General of Subsistance urged the argument of subsistance as imperative. After the repulse of the enemy the Commissary-General of Subsistance urged the necessity of opening the northern districts of Virginia to the operations of this Bureau, and several time since General Lee was notified of impending want, so that it has been long understood. Last winter the Commissary-General of Subsistance urged that the necks and shanks of beeves, usually excluded by regulations, should be used so as to make the most of what was obtained. These significant facts must have prepared all persons to whom they had stated for the present condition, which General Lee seems now to realize. In addition, the Commissary-General of Subsistance has endeavored to hold as much meat as possible for the army of Virginia, directing the chief commissaries of other armies and district, that in view of the difficulties of transportation, and the lost and ruined conditon of so much, and such fertile territory previously held by us, they must depend on their own districts as far as possible. Moreover, the Commissary-General has, in this very view, refused applications for bacon, which would have been drafts on the stores at Atlanta, and has thereby incurred the strictures of the general commanding the Southeast. The present embarrassement is now due to the delay of railroads in bringing the bacon hither. For that this Bureau is not responsible, and it has often represented that some such catastrophe must result sooner or later from such course unless a remedy were applied.