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I have closely examined your several statements in respect to the Confederate military forces during the late war, as well as the casualties incident thereto, and I have come to the conclusion, from my general recollection, which those statements have served to enlighten, that they must be regarded as nearly critically correct.

Most of the returns from which you most probably have derived your information, must have passed through the files of my office in the Confederacy, and if reference could be made to all the records of that office, they would, I have no doubt, enable you to give nearly a complete history of the strength and operations of our armies in detail.

The files of that office which could best afford this information were carefully boxed up and taken on our retreat from Richmond to Charlotte, North Carolina, where they were unfortunately captured, and, as I learn, are now in Washington, where they are arranged in a separate building, with other records appertaining to the Confederacy. I presume that by proper management reference might be had to them. Indeed, I had at one time contemplated to make an effort to renew my acquaintance with those records by a personal application to the authorities in Washington; but I finally abandoned the idea. * * It would afford me much pleasure to furnish you with the information in the tabular form you have suggested, but it would be quite impossible for me to do this without reference to those records. I can only state from general recollection that during the two last years of the war the monthly returns of our armies received at my office exhibited the present active force in the field nearly one-half less than the returns themselves actually called for, on account of absentees by sickness, extra duty, furlough, desertions, and other casualties incident to a campaign life.

These returns were kept with great secrecy, in order to prevent the enemy from becoming acquainted with our weakness. Another disadvantage was also felt in the limited number of our suitable weapons of war, and I believe it will be found on examination that the most approved and tried arms in the hands of our troops were captured from the enemy in battle. These, and many other incidents of a like nature, if brought to light, would exhibit the greatest disparity between the two opposing forces, if not in the numbers of troops, as you have exhibited in your tables, at least of sufficient importance to satisfy every unprejudiced mind that we were constantly laboring, throughout the contest, under every possible disadvantage.

I perceive by the printed prospectus of the “Southern Historical Society,” which you were so kind as to send me, that time must be given in collecting the necessary facts which are to be the basis of this important work before it shall be prepared and given to the public. To this end it will be my endeavor to contribute from time to time such facts as I may be enabled to collect and as may be deemed of consequence by the Society.

With great respect, I have the honor to be,

Your obedient servant,

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