In respect to this particular instance, wheat was ordered weeks ago from Atlanta. Colonel Wadley was telegraphed on the subject, and the Secretary of war was addressed thereon, as he will remember, when the bridges on the Holston and Watuaga were bruned by the enemy; he was informed that a train of cars loaded with bacon had been left on the west side of the brunt bridges. Agents have been sent from here to hunt up and hurry on the cars, and the meat when started was placed in charge of measengers. This was done before General Lee's letter was referred to me. I had done all that was in my power, and on the day before the letter was referred to me I wrote to Lieutenant Colonel R. G. Cole, informing him of the railroad delays, so that he might use the influence of his position to prevent a repetition of what has several times crippled transportation, and which is said to have been lately practiced south of Richmond, to wit, keeping cars unemployed to meet expected removal of troops. When the meat will reach here I cannot tell, and I have been unable to hasten it by my efforts. The order of the War Department, dated April 28, reducing the rations of meat and increasing that of flour, as above referred to, has not been observed in the army of Virginia for a period of between three and four months, by order of General Lee, and the use of the whole beef (necks and shanks included), which was attempted to be instituted by the Commissary-General of Subsistance, has not been observed in that army, the discontent and other obstlacts being urged insurmountable in the field. At this post these things have generally been availed of. But for the violation of the above orders and the failure to ecnomize beef, the supplies for General Lee's army would have lasted several weeks longer. The orders of the Secretary of War to attempt to run the blockade from the Nortern lines were attended to as soon as received. I has been impossible to organize a system as yet for want of suitable men, who have not yet been found, and when they are found they must report to General Lee, since without his protection they can do nothing. It may be as well for him to make that arrangement. One such party has been ordered already to report to him. Supplies cannot be gathered in the country southwest of General Lee' army. It has been or is being drained already. Nor can they he had on the south side of James River. That country is held tributary in commissary supplies to Petersburg and the south (except in hogs), and even if they were there (as they are not), in quantity to feed General Lee's army, they could not be had; neither time nor transportation will allow it. All the transportation that can be begged will be needed to get wheat to be converted into flour for the same army that now wants meat. General Lee's suggestion that an apeal be made to the citizens to forward supplies is noted by this Bureau, and is not approved. In conclustion, the only remedy for the present (but not future) condition of things is an amendment of transportation, the defects of which, with their inevitable result, have been repeatedly pointed out by this Bureau from a period which dates as far back as June, 1861.
L. B. NORTHROP,
[25.] Commissary-General of Subsistance.