RICHMOND, VA., March 22, 1862.
Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War:
SIR: In your letter to me explaining the transfer of my command from that of Major-General Huger to that of Major-General Johnston you stated that the former reported my brigade as supernumerary in his department. * I have therefore asked the War Department, and also General Huger himself, for a copy of that report, in order that I might see in what respect it affected my command or my reputation. Failing as yet to obtain the copy requested, I respectfully repeat the request for it. If General Huger made any representations respecting my legion, I take occasion to say that he was and is wholly ignorant of its condition, either as to the number of men, their outfit and equipments, or their discipline; and if upon his report it is contemplated to disband the legion as a distinctive and independent force, such as General Lee decided it to be whilst serving under his orders in Western Virginia, I desire to be allowed the privilege of being hear on that point.
In the spring of 1861 I was granted leave by the President to raise 2,000 men, and as soon as raised I was to be commissioned a brigadier-general; but before one man was mustered in the President, at his own instance and solicitation, commissioned me and ordered me to the Valley of Kanawha. He commissioned also one colonel, one lieutenant-colonel, one major, one assistant adjutant-general, two surgeons, without companies, battalions, or regiments, then constituted my brigade. I was to raise not only a legionary force independent in its character, but the brigade attached to it, and that was to constitute my command. The forces attached were the Virginia State troops in the district to which I was assigned, commanded by Colonel Tompkins, and which were not then, in May, 1861, transferred to the Confederate control; and this force then consisted of but 600 raw volunteers. My brigade, then, all told, was but the officers of my legion named and the 600 State troops under Colonel Tompkins. Could this constitute a brigade in June, 1861? The President and Department so decided, and I took command and faithfully executed it according to my commission. In raising men particularly it was successful-eminently so, considering the disaffected state of Western Virginia, the competing for recruits by General Flood in Southwestern Virginia, the shortness of time, and the very few facilities afforded to Colonel Tompkins and myself. He raised his command to about 1,800, and I mine to 2,850, from June to the middle of August, 1861. He had two regiments and the legion had thirty-one companies of infantry (three regiments and one company for a fourth), fourth companies of light artillery, with nine pieces fully mounted and equipped, and eight companies of cavalry. These were all organized and in actual service, and besides these were seven companies under Colonel Tyler and five under Lieutenant-Colonel Green, who had joined the legion but were not in the field, and several more ready to join-enough quite to make two additional regiments. But there were forty-three companies of all arms in the field, and discounting from their numbers all discharged, on leave, and in hospital, I left at Camp Defiance, on Big Sewell, in September, 1861, about 2,450 most efficient men, and twelve companies besides elsewhere,
*See Benjamin to Wise, Series I, VOL. IX, p. 164.