I will thank you to lay these views before the War Department. The question is a most delicate one and very difficult of solution; but I think a temporary exemption would gradually bring back these fugitives to the quiet cultivation of their fields - the best service which they can render the Government.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. B. BUCKNER,
Major-General, Commanding Department.
Richmond, May 22, 1863.
Hon. J. A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: In returning the accompanying papers* I deem it due to major Huse to remark:
First. That I believe from information derived from Captain Stiles, who is just from London, that the receiving of a commission by Major Huse will be satisfactorily explained by him. Major H. is an officer of nearly fifteen years' service. He knows perfectly well that the naked transaction of taking a commission on purchases, or receiving, directly or indirectly, compensation for purchases for the Government, would dismiss him from the service with disgrace; yet he makes confession of this flagrant crime to a stranger in his very first interview with him. It is unnecessary to suggest the propriety of at least hearing Major H. 's statement.
Second. That I have no doubt Major Huse was frequently compelled to pay quite 50 per cent. over the actual market value of his purchases. I am free to admit that if Major H. had applied to me for instructions as to whether he should procure supplies at such rates, authority to that effect would have been given to him without a moment's hesitation. Purchases made at those rates have saved my department and that of the Quartermaster-General millions of dollars if compared with the charges made by Confederate houses at Confederate ports. The Quartermaster-General has not weighed the matter of his letter, or this count in his indictment against Major H. would have been left out or supported by further testimony.
Third. The matter of Major Huse's unfitness for making purchases is assumed by the Quartermaster-General probably on the testimony of Major Ferguson. I think it proper to say that I am perfectly satisfied with his business capacities, and so far as that is concerned desire no change. He has, however, declared his unfeigned regret at having volunteered to do service for the Quartermaster's Department to which he was induced by his seance of the nakedness of our Army. This appears abundantly in his letters from the first. If he did wrong it must be admitted that it was a most venial error. He has, since the expression of his own wishes on this point, been formally directed to confine his purchases to the Ordnance and Medical Departments, Doctor Moore having full confidence in his judgment.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel Chief of Ordnance.
* See Myers to Seddon, May 16, and inclosures, p. 555.