SHELBYVILLE, March 9, 1863.
Major THOMAS M. JACK, Assistant Adjutant-General.
MAJOR: In obedience to instructions from the lieutenant-general commanding (through Colonel W. B. Richmond, aide-de-camp) of this date I have the honor to submit the following explanation: On the 7th instant the general informed me that he had received a communication from General Van Dorn stating that the prisoners captured by his (General Van Dorn's) command at Thompson's Station would pass through this place en route to Tullahoma; that they numbered about 2,200 men and would need rations. The general directed me to see that they had rations provided for them on their arrival; that General Van Dorn could not furnish them with cooking utensils, consequently I should have the rations properly prepared. The general suggested that I could use the utensils left in camp by a portion of Withers' division, then on outpost duty, and to make the details left in charge of the camp cook them. He also directed me to send a courier on the Lewisburg road to meet them with a communication to the officer in charge asking for the number of men and the number of days' rations required and any other information that would facilitate their speedy transportation from this point to Tullahoma. Immediately after leaving the general I dispatched a courier as directed with a letter to the officer in charge of the prisoners making the inquiries named. I charged the courier to be as prompt as possible. I then sent of Captain Spence and directed him to go out to the camp of Withers' division and see the officer in command and notify him that he wold have to superintend the preparation of the rations. Captain Spence returned and that the colonel signified to him that he was ready to carr out the order as soon as he received the rations.
I also saw Major Mason, assistant quartermaster, and directed him to furnish transportation for the rations when required. I then went to the post commissary store-house to see Captain Cromwell, assistant commissary of subsistence. The captain being absent I directed his chief clerk (a Mr. Baugh) to furnish the rations when called on without delay. I then awaited the return of the courier. The courier not having returned on the morning of the 8th (when I expected him to return on the preceding night at the latest) I reported the fact to the general. The general directed me to send Captain Spence with another courier on the same road with instructions similar to those given the first courier. The first courier returned about 3 o'clock on the afternoon of the 8th with a note from Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon, commanding the escort in charge of the prisoners, giving the number 1,205, but said nothing about when their rations were out. The colonel also stated in his note that he would send his regimental commissary in the attend to the wants of his own command. Immediately on the receipt of Colonel Gordon's communications I directed Captain Spence to have two days' rations for 1,205 men sent out to Colonel Walker with instructions to have them prepared without delay. I also directed that the wagons used for hauling them our should remain and bring to rations back when prepared to the court-house. Captain Spence returned and reported that he had carried out my instructions. About 5 p. m. a violent rain came on which continued with more or less violence until a late hour at night and materially interfered with the cooking of the rations. In order to be certain that the prisoners would get their rations I saw Major Mason about 11 o'clock last night and asked him what directions he had given about the wagons. He replied that he