Danville, whither I supposed General Lee would proceed with his army. In a previous chapter I promised to expose the fiction which imputed to me the removal of supplies intended for Lee's army at Amelia Court House. Though manufactured without one fiber of truth, it has been copied into so many books, formed the staple of so many jeremiads, and pointed so many malignant reflections, that I deem it proper for myself and others concerned now to present the evidence which will overthrow this baseless fabric. General I. M. St. John, Commissary General of the Confederate Army, was requested by me, after the close of the war, to prepare a report in reply to the widely circulated story that Lee's army had been compelled to evacuate Petersburg and subsequently to surrender because the administration had failed to provide food for their support. On July 14, 1873, General St. John addressed to me a report of the operations and condition of the commissariat immediately preceding the surrender of Lee's and Johnston's armies. That report, together with confirmatory statements, will be found in the Southern Historical Society Papers for March, 1877. From it and the accompanying documents I propose to make brief extracts. General St. John says that in February, 1865, when he took charge of the commissary bureau, on account of the military status he
found that the Army of Northern Virginia was with difficulty supplied day by day with reduced rations. . . . 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. . . . On or before March 15, 1865, the Commissary-General was able to report to the Secretary of War that, in addition to the daily issue of rations to the Army of Northern Virginia, there lay in depot along the railroad between Greensboro, North Carolina, Lynchburg, Staunton, and Richmond, at least ten days rations of bread and meat, collected especially for that army, and subject to the requisition of its chief commissary officer; also that considerably over 300,000 rations were held in Richmond as a special reserve. . . . There was collected by April 1, 1865, in depot, subsistence stated in detail as follows: At Richmond, Virginia, 300,000 rations bread and meat; at Danville, 500,000 rations bread; at Danville, 1,500,000 rations meat; at Lynchburg, 180,000 rations bread and meat; at Greensboro, North Carolina, and vicinity, 1,500,000 rations bread and meat. In addition, there were considerable supplies of tea, coffee, and sugar carefully reserved for hospital issues chiefly. These returns did not include the subsistence collections by the field-trains of the Army of Northern Virginia, under orders from its own headquarters, nor the depot collections at Charlottesville, Staunton, and other points upon the Virginia Central Railroad, to meet requisitions from the Confederates operating in the Valley and western Virginia.