as possible, and let the gratifying assurance go forth to the camps of our armies that the wives and children of our soldiers shall not suffer so long as their State has money or food to give them.
I beg leave to call your attention to the great and almost insurmountable difficulties encountered by the quartermaster's department in providing clothing, shoes, and blankets for our troops. During the administration of my predecessor an arrangements was entered into (according to a resolution of the General Assembly) with the Quartermaster's Department of the Confedwhich North Carolina was to receive the commutation clothing money of the troops, and clothe and shoe them herself. And on our agreeing to sell the Confederate authorities all the surplus supplies that could be procured in the State they agreed to withdraw their agents from our markets and leave the State agents the whole field without competition. This would have enabled the State to clothe and she her troops comfortably, and could have furnished to the Confederate States all that was to be had anyhow at reasonable rates, but it was immediately violated. The country was soon, and is still, swarming with agents of the Confederate Government, stripping bare our markets and putting enormous prices upon our agents. This is especially the case in regard to shoes and leather. The consequence has been our troops could get only half supplies from home, and nothing at all from the Confederate Government, because of our agreement to furnish them ourselves. When a large portion of our army this fall, by the accidents of battle and other causes, lost their baggage, it was found impossible at once to replace it. Sorely pressed as to the best course to be pursued, I published and appeal to our people in behalf of their brothers in the field, and employed the militia officers for the collection of articles donated or sold; and though the response has been at once gratifying and patriotic, yet it is necessarily slow and uncertain, and I regret to say that the heroes of Boonsborough, Sharpsburg, and other glorious fields have suffered, and are still suffering, greatly for the want of shoes and clothing. Every possible exertion has been made for their relief, but while the agents of the Confederacy are allowed to compete with ours, and speculators are allowed to carry our leather beyond our borders, it will be impossible to supply them. I earnestly recommended an embargo upon this article, as before mentioned.
I am gratified that I am able to state that the prospect of obtaining cotton cloths at reasoetter than it has been. The stockholders of the Rockfish Manufacturing Company, one of the largest and most enterprising in the State, have agreed to sell all their productions at 75 per cent. upon cost, the rate allowed by the exemption bill, which will reduce the price about one-half, and some seven or eight other companies have intimated an intention of following their praiseworthy example: We may reasonably hope that most of the other mills in the State can be induced to do likewise. The woolen factories seem more incorrigible. Some of them when asked to furnish their goods at 75 per cent. decline entirely, and others agree to do so by fixing enormous profits on the cost of the raw material and then adding the 75 per cent. on the finished article, making their profits even greater than before. It is greatly to be regretted that the most useful and to-be-cherished institutions should put themselves in a position which will cause them to be execrated by our people on the return of peace. But as the free-trade policy oppressed them in time of peas, so they seem to have no mercy upon us during the existence of the war. I recommend them to your tender mercies,