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[98] for the Southern armies, from the depreciated currency, the failing condition of the railroads and the general exhaustion of the country; but difficulties still more serious lay elswhere. In every military department, and in the several districts of supply (which I examined), after the fullest allowance for all local obstacles, and all possible official shortcomings, the military status was still found to be the real measure of the ability of the Subsistence Bureau to collect at that time the required supplies. Cavalry raids, which at first only occasionally cut the more important lines of communication, had penetrated at the close of 1864 into the interior districts and had become very destructive. Travel and the movement of supplies were in several important instances (as officially reported to the War Department) suspended for days at a time on every leading railroad within our lines. Upon some of these roads communications were only restored with great difficulty, and on one important trunk line not at all. Interior depots of supplies previously deemed secure against all risk, were frequently captured and destroyed. Several of the more productive districts of Virginia and the Carolinas, which were relied upon for certain supply in last resort, had passed permanently into hostile occupation. All the remaining districts of supply (in February, 1865) were either directly menaced, or remotely disturbed by military preparations and movements for what proved to be our closing struggle.

Under these depressing circumstances, I found the army of Northern Virginia with difficulty supplied day by day with reduced rations. In the other military departments, however, the situation was better; and from several it was still possible to draw a considerable surplus for the Richmond and Petersburg depots, whenever transportation could be procured.

After a brief survey of the work to be done and of our remaining resources as before referred to, I at once proceeded to organize a system of appeal and of private contribution as auxiliary to the regular operations of the commissary service. With the earnest and very active aid of leading citizens of Virginia and North Carolina, this effort was attended with results exceeding expectation. Calls were made upon the Quartermaster-General in person, and the officers in charge of the corn and forage supply for combined action; and these calls were met to the extreme limit of their power. Requisitions were also made upon the reserve stores of the Nitre and Mining Bureau, which my successor (in hearty cooperation) arranged to meet without detriment to his own service.


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