MANASSAS, VA., August 10, 1861.
His Excellency President JEFFERSON DAVIS,
DEAR SIR: Your letter of the 4th instant* has been received, but my endless occupations have prevented me from acknolwedging it immediately, as I should have done. I regretted exceedingly to hear that Colonel Miles had read my letter of the 29th ultimo to Congress. It was written only for the purpose of expedting matters, if possible, and written immediately after having been informed that one brigade and two or more regiments were without food, and had been so for twenty-four hours. I had before been informed that we were short of provisions, indeed it was almost a constant source of complaint, but I provisions, indeed it was almost a constant source of complaint, but I never supposed it would be permitted to go to the extent referred to. Some time before the battle of the 21st ultimo I had endeavored to remedy the impending evil by ordering Major Fowle, the acting commissary-general here, to provide a certain number of rations by purchase in the surrounding counties, which drew from the Commissary-General of the Army a letter so uncourteous to me that the want of time alone prevented me from inclosing it to you for your consideration. With regard to making timely requisitions on the quartermaster and commissary departments, not knowing what number of troops the War Department intended at any time to concentrate here, it was impossible to make said requisitions until after the arrival of those troops. I will here remakr that troops arriving at this place have often been a day or more without food in the cars, and I had several times to order issue of provisions here to troops on their way to Winchester for the same cause. I accuse no one; I state facts. I am fully aware that you have done more than could have been expected of your for this army, and that it is utterly impossible you should be able to direct each one of the bureaus of the War Department, but the facts referred to show a deficiency somewhere, which ought to be remedied, otherwise we will sooner or later be liable to the same unfortunate results. My experience here teaches me that after issuing an order I have to inquire whether it has been carried into effect especially is it the case in reference to the new arrivals. With regard to my remakrs about marching on Washington, you must have misunderstood them, for I never stated that we could have pursued the enemy on the evening of the 21st, or even of the 22d. I wrote, "The want of food and transportation has made us lose all the fruits of our victory. We ought at this time (29th of July) to be in or about Washington," and "from all accounts Washington could have bene taken up to the 24th instant (July) by 20,000 men." Every news from there confirms me still more in that opinion. For several days (about one week) after the battle I could not put the new regiments in position for want of
*See VOL. II, p. 507.