War of the Rebellion: Serial 128 Page 0151 CONFEDERATE AUTHORITIES.

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Applications for permission to be examined will be addressed to the general commanding each army, and will be filled with his chief of ordnance, to be laid before the board of examiners.

IV. Ordnance officers serving on the staff of commanding generals will not enter into contracts for nor purchase ordnance supplies except in case of necessity, on the authority of the general, which must be attached to the contract or account for purchase. The exigency requiring the purchase or contract will also be stated.

By order:


Adjutant and Inspector General.


Richmond, October 30, 1862.


President Confederate States of America:

SIR: I have the honor to inclose a letter* from the Commissary-General and a letter*to him from J. Fowlkes with his indorsement, expressing the opinion that the Army cannot be subsisted without permitting trade to some extent with Confederate ports in the possession of the enemy.

The alternative is thus presented of violating our established policy of withholding cotton from the enemy or of risking the starvation of our armies. Regarding the former as the less evil, I advise that the Commissary-General by authorized to contract for bacon and salt, and the Quartermaster-General for blankets and shoes, payable in cotton, and that the general commanding on the Mississippi be instructed to permit the cotton delivered under these contracts to pass our lines.

The amount of purchases should be limited to what is absolutely necessary to feed the Army and supply it with blankets and shoes.

I have examined the statutes prohibiting trade with Confederate ports in the possession of the enemy and I am of opinion that they do not apply to the Government, nor do I know of any principle of public law which prohibits a government from trading with the citizens or subjects of a hostile power. I think it will be found that in European wars dealings between the government of one nation and the subjects of another engaged in mutual hostilities are of ordinary occurrence, and that the prohibition of trade between such powers is confined to the dealings of private individuals.

I am fully aware that in permitting the enemy to obtain a partial supply of cotton we are conceding an advantage to him and licensing an objectionable trade, and nothing less than the danger of sacrificing our armies would induce me to acquiesce in such a departure from our established policy. But the Commissary-General, whose duty it is to study the question of subsistence and to inform himself of the sources of supply, and who has had the benefit of eighteen months' experience, having recorded his opinion that the Army cannot be subsisted under the present arrangements, I must decline the responsibility of overruling him and entering upon an experiment which may result in ruin.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Secretary of War.


*Not found.