I refer you for particulars to a communication from Colonel Clarkson, superintendent of our salt-works, herewith inclosed. It will be observed that the whole difficulty has grown out of the refusal of said agants to execute an order with which they were well pleased, and which was not only necessary but eminently just and proper. It is time that Virginia was not bound to concern herself with the transportation of salt for the Confederate Government; she might have left it to that Government to provide the transportation which would have been called for, of course, pro rata from all the various trains running on the road. But Virginia believed that arrangements so eminently just and proper would meet with the hearty concurrence of all, and she therefore deemed it best for her to manage the whole operation. I have presented this view with the hope that it may satisfy the General Assembly of North Carolina of the injustice they have done the State of Virginia in their resolution and they may be pleased to retract it. But, Governor, while I am allowed an opportunity by the Legislature of your State to make this explanation and unpleasant extremities are avoided, you, in communicating the resolution, apprise me that you have ordered that the citizens of Virginia with their property shall not have free transit over the roads of your State. You do not wait for explanation, but pronounce in judgment upon our conduct and, as far as supplies are concerned, you leave a country ravaged by the enemy and a people stripped in thousands of cases of the last mouthful of food to all the horrors of want and famine. If I understood your order aright, pardon me if I do not believe you ever intended to enforce it. It would be a cruel violation of that courtesy between the States which should prevail, and a deep injury and wrong to a State which has never sought an advantage over her sisters. At this day I doubt not from all the information I have that North Carolina is better provided with salt than Virginia, the necessities of the Confederate Government having so pressed upon our transportation as to pevent the dalt among our people. If, Governor, you have issued such an order I claim it of you-surely I may do it-that you revoke it until this matter can, by the deliberate action of the General Assembly of Virginia, be further reviewed and adjudged. I prefer this as a request, without waiving any question of right; yet it may not be amiss to call your attention tot the first paragraph of the second section of the fourth article of the Confederate constitution. In conclusion, Governor, permit me to suggest for your consideration the propriety of a new arrangement for a supply of salt. I am satisfied if it can be done it would be better for the State of Virginia to supply her sister States, as suggested in my message which I had the honor to sending you. I am entirely convinced, without meaning to make charges, that the difficulty which has grown out of this question is attributable in a great degree to the influence of private interest. As our Legislature is now in session and has this subject under their consideration, I would be glad to have your views upon the suggestion I have made.
I have the honor to be, Governor, with high consideration, most respectfully, yours,
STAUNTON, January 31, 1865.
General R. E. LEE,
Commanding Army of Northern Virginia:
GENERAL: I send accompanying report,* which I think places it beyond all doubt that a considerable portion of Thomas' army has gone