it that the stock of clothing material now on hand is very abundant, as the officers of the Army may be seen daily at the merchant tailor establishment on Main street selling at an advance of from 100 to 200 per cent. the cloth obtained by them from the Clothing Bureau.
HEADQUARTERS VOLUNTEER AND CONSCRIPT BUREAU,
Columbia, February 5, 1863.
Colonel GEORGE W. BRENT,
I will hold this place unless driven off by an overwhelming force. I am sending to the army men. I am taking measures to procure the negro teamsters. I hope to succeed, without offense to the country or violence to its rights, by a proper appeal to its patriotism. I have dispatched a courier to-day to General Wheeler apprising him of the position and strength of the enemy. I had previously sent two couriers. I have information to-day that our cavalry force was at Palmyra, on the Cumberland River, about twelve miles below Clarksville, on Tuesday; also, that my first dispatch, apprising them of the position of the enemy, was received. This intelligence was not received until since I had sent off my last courier.
The general order requiring [that] the cavalry who [have] not efficient horses shall be conscripted and placed in the infantry service can be carried out when I shall have completed the organization of this bureau and placed the whole field of labor under efficient government.
The only way of carrying out the order will be for the general to order a strict inspection of each regiment, and requiring a report to be made to me of the names of the men who are not properly mounted. This being done, I can then proceed with that branch of the service.
When this inspection is going on it will be necessary for the regiments to be ordered to the rear of the army one at a time. This inspection ought to be made by the staff officers, acting under the immediate orders of the general commanding. The whole country to the rear of the army is swarming with these men on lame, sore-backed, and broken-down horses, who are a great annoyance to the population and are eating up the subsistence and forage, which ought to be husbanded for the efficient if it was relieved of these hangers-on.
It will require a good while to go through with these inspections and get up the reports, and if that service is ordered and the work done now it would greatly facilitate my work hereafter in this branch of my duties.
On Monday next I expect to leave for Pulaski, where I shall only remain two or three days, and proceed from that place to Huntsville. There are a large number of disaffected men in the mountainous regions of Alabama, south of Tennessee River, and in Jackson County, which will require more cavalry force there. The Georgia battalion ordered to report to me has not done so.