War of the Rebellion: Serial 128 Page 0292 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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by supplying the general market. In some instances the Department has had no alternative but to resort to impressment to enforce the fulfillment of its contracts or to supply its pressing necessities. Embarrassments of the like nature have affected the operations of the Quartermaster's and Subsistence Department. For some of the leading articles required by the former reliance has necessarily been placed to a considerable extent on foreign supplies, since they are not adequately furnished within the Confederate States. This has specially been the case with woolens and leather, and under the losses and interruptions caused by the blockade there have been at times rather scant supplies of blankets, shoes, and some other articles of clothing. Still, by using to the utmost internal resources, by the establishment of factories and the organization of workshops, and by greater economy in use the Army has never been allowed seriously to suffer. Of late great success has attended importations, and besides contracts for supplies have been made on liberal terms to so large an extent that security is now felt of timely and abundant provision. To attain a result so indispensable to the comfort and preservation of our gallant armies, the Department will spare no exertion or sacrifice. For due supplies of forage and subsistence reliance has been placed on the productions and resources of the Confederacy alone, and so far they have proved abundant. They are, however, more affected by the peculiar circumstances of the country. The harvests of the past season have not generally proved propitious, and notwithstanding the much larger breadth of land devoted to the culture of cereals and forage the product in many extensive districts of the Confederacy is below the average, and in some threatens scarcity. The cost and want of transportation make difficult the collection, distribution, and equalization of such products. In addition, the ravages of war, persecuted by our malignant enemies in shameful violalized usage for the ends of rapine or destruction, have desolated considerable district of fertile country. The districts thus devastated have been, too, mainly those which have heretofore afforded the largest supplies of meat. The rearing of animals for food has been since the war very generally increased throughout the Confederacy, and from other districts larger supplies than heretofore may be expected. Still, the scarcity of grain and forage must check considerably this increased production and render adequate supplies for the future more doubtful. A yet greater cause renders the procurement of the supplies that exist difficult. The redundant issue of Treasury notes, which the needs of the Treasury have made inevitable by inflating the currency far beyond the wants of the country for a circulating medium, has caused a great enhancement of all prices and inspired a general and inordinate spirit of speculation. As the cause of enhancement has been and must be continuous, being the necessary issue of Treasury notes, so the increase in prices has been, and without check from legislation must be, steadily progressive. This is so understood or has been so experienced by all classes that there is on the part of all having the necessary supplies to sell the strongest repugnance to part with them, even at the exaggerated current rates, from the conviction that a longer holding will assure still higher prices. The motive is so influential and general that it is next to impossible to supply the necessities of the Government at fair prices or by voluntary contracts. Resort to the power of impressment has become an absolute necessity for the support of our armies. It is a power of great delicacy, liable to perversion and abuse, and