The incursions of the enemy are becoming serious. In the Pendleton district several of our establishments have been broken up, kettles smashed, some of the workmen taken prisoners, and all dispersed. The yield for November in this and the adjoining Greenbrier district will be reduced from this cause at least 10,000 pounds. In Tennessee and Upper Alabama our works are frequently interrupted and in a recent case with loss of life. With reference to this, authority has been asked to organize and arm the working forces for their own protection. An order issued authorizes a company of sixty-four non-conscripts to be raised and detailed to guard the Santa Cave. It is respectfully submitted, however, that the Government interests will be better met by making the workmen guard their own works under an organization similar to slappers and miners. As an important precedent the reconsideration of this order is requested. On the army movements of Tennessee and Virginia during the present month depend at least 40 percent of our home niter production. The supply of powder and saltpeter now on hand is considered ample for all contingencies of three months, and probably for the winter. But the supply thereafter becomes the subject of concern, and it is recommended that the closest economy be directed in issues for coal mining and railroad work. It only remains to press production form domestic sources in the interior districts. The most earnest efforts have been made by publication, printed and personal appeals, from influential sources, sending agents to instruct families and to collect, but with discouraging results. Our planters and people in the several States from Virginia to Mississippi, in all of which niter districts have been organized, do not sufficiently respond to dispense with Government work and, in part, conscript labor. This is now reluctantly, and with great effort to avoid it, submitted as a necessity for a future supply at all approaching army wants. I have respectfully to request a general order directing the extension of niter production in the interior districts of North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, and, if operations are thus to be extended, authorizing the use of conscript labor where indispensably needed.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
I. M. ST. JOHN,
Major and Superintendent.
CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA, WAR DEPARTMENT, NITER AND MINING BUREAU, Richmond, December 3, 1862.
Hon. J. A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: In connection with an official communication of this date I respectfully call your attention to the frequent communications from enrolling officers on the subject of conscript labor in the niter service; also to the official indorsement on the letter of Major Swanson, Camp Watts, November 19, and Major Mallett, Raleigh, November 8.
Under past orders from the Department contracts have been made and details granted from the Army and from conscripts. To guard against possible abuse of these exemptions, all niter agents have been instructed to assess every individual holding a certificate at a reasonable per diem of work, to report cases of non-compliance to the