but also that of General Ruggles might be dependent upon the supplies of the country intersected by the Mississippi and Ohio Railroad, I issued positive orders that neither grain nor meat should be allowed to leave the department by that road. The condition of the Southern Railroad daily growing worse in consequence of the heavy rains and its light structure, every effort was made on my part to aid the managers in its speedy and effectual repair. A communication urging its importance in a military point of view, was addressed to his Excellency the Governor of the State on the twentieth of February, asking his assistance by the impressment of negroes to labor on it, the Vice-President having informed me that planters would not hire their hands. On the twenty-eighth of February and second of March instructions were again sent to Lieutenant-Colonel Broadwell to purchase all the meat possible at the price suggested by him, and notified also that beef could be crossed safely, and to send forward all he could control. March first, Brigadier-General Ruggles was directed by telegraph as follows: “You must give every possible assistance in procuring within your district all the corn, beeves, and bacon, and salted pork, that can be had, and forward as rapidly as possible for army at Vicksburg. Purchase from planters at the lowest prices you can, and impress all in hands of speculators at same rates.” About the same time Major-General Taylor, commanding West Louisiana was respectfully urged to have all the beeves, bacon, and salted pork, forwarded, and it gives me great pleasure to add that I am greatly indebted to his active exertions, as well as to Lieutenant-Colonel Broadwell, for large supplies of corn and meat. On the twenty-third of March the following letter was received from Lieutenant-Colonel Broadwell:
On the day of its receipt, the above letter was referred to Major Thomas Johnston, Chief of Subsistence, for his information, and was returned with the following indorsement:Alexandria, La., 17th March, 1863.General: Four steamboats arrived here to-day from Shreveport and Jefferson, loaded chiefly with corn. One of them had three hundred thousand pounds of bacon; three others — the Charm, Texas, and Frolic — are reported coming down with loads; five others — the Falls City, Louisville, Starlight, General Hodges, and Ninahnis — are below here, with full cargoes, designed for Port Hudson; but the Federal gunboats are reported blocking the mouth of this river. Great God! how unfortunate. We must try to get cattle to Bowman's Landing, fifteen miles back of Waterproof, and, if possible, swim them at the latter point; but the cattle here are thin, and may be unfit for beef, when they arrive on the other side; in fact, it is doubtful whether many of them will ever get through the swamps and bayous through which they are required to pass on this side. As the water declines, I think that cattle, in large quantity, can be crossed over by swimming; but, at present, the prospect of your getting supplies from this side is gloomy enough. With the hope, General, that the supervision of steamboat navigation may embarrass you less than at present, Very respectfully, &c., (Signed)
Evidence of a similar character, all showing the constant and earnest efforts made by myself and officers to secure an ample store of subsistence for Vicksburg and Port Hudson, could be adduced to an indefinite extent; but to give the whole, would swell this report to a huge volume. I content myself, therefore, with throwing a number of letters, orders, telegrams, &c., on this subject, into an appendix. In the month of March I was in receipt of a number of letters from respectable citizens, containing suggestions that were frequently valuable; but, unfortunately, they were such that should have been made months before, and some of them at a time when I was not in the department. But these suggestions, whether timely and valuable in themselves or not, were rendered worthless to me by reason of the then active military operations on the Yazoo River and its tributaries, which were constantly diverting all my boats from the important duty of transporting supplies to the indispensable service of transporting troops and munitions of war. This was also the case in many instances where provisions were offered me by citizens. I was offered supplies of corn and meat, but at a time when, from the proximity of the enemy and other causes, it was utterly impracticable for me to make them available. In this connection, I cannot forbear saying that, in nine cases out of ten where subsistence was offered me, the offer carried with it a demand for transportation which it was entirelyRespectfully returned. The following boats have arrived out of Red River, and have discharged their cargoes at Port Hudson: Frolic, corn, to A. Q. M; Louis d'or, corn, to A. Q. M.; Trent, corn, to A. C. S.; Drover, corn, to A. C. S.; Red Chief, corn, to A. C. S.; Starlight, corn, to A. C. S.; Indian, corn, to A. C. S.; T. D. Hine, bacon, hogs, and beef, to A. C. S. The steamer General Hodges spoken of, discharged her cargo at Alexandria. The Louisville had twenty thousand bushels of corn. The Falls City turned over all her cargo except three hundred and fifty barrels of molasses to steamer T. D. Hine. Lieutenant Cammack left Alexandria on the eighteenth inst., one day later than the communication for Colonel Broadwell. (Signed)Thos. Johnston, Major and Chief of Subsistence.