South and west of Greensboro, North Carolina, the depot accumulations were reserved first to meet requisitions for the forces operating in the Carolinas, and the surplus for Virginia requisitions. . . .
The report then refers to a conference between the Secretary of War
) and the general commanding (Lee
) with the Quartermaster General
) and the Commissary General
). After a general discussion of the wants of the army in clothing, forage, and subsistence, to an inquiry by General Lee
, General St. John
That a daily delivery by cars and canal-boats, at or near Richmond, of about five hundred tons of commissaries' stores was essential to provide for the Richmond siege reserve and other accumulations desired by the General commanding; that the depot collections were already sufficient to assure the meeting of these requisitions, and, if the then existing military lines could be held, the Commissary-General felt encouraged as to the future of his own immediate department.
The procuring of supplies was only one of the difficulties by which we were beset.
The deteriorated condition of the railroads and the deficiency of rolling-stock embarrassed transportation, and there was yet another: the cavalry raids of the enemy frequently broke the railroads and destroyed trains.
, with great energy and good judgment, under the heavy pressure of the circumstances, improved the railroad transportation.
I quote again from the report of General St. John
Upon the earliest information of the approaching evacuation, instructions were asked from the War Department and the General commanding for the final disposition of the subsistence reserve in Richmond, then reported by Major Claiborne, post commissary, to exceed in quantity 350,000 rations.
The reply, ‘Send up the Danville Railroad if Richmond is not safe,’ was received from the army headquarters, April 2, 1865, and too late for action, as all railroad transportation had then been taken up, by superior orders, for the archives, bullion, and other Government service, then deemed of prior importance.
All that remained to be done was to fill every accessible army-wagon; and this was done, and the trains were hurried southward.
It will be seen from this statement that the reply was directed to the removal of the subsistence reserve only if Richmond
was not safe.
It cannot be supposed that such a reply emanated from General Lee
, as he surely never contemplated an attempt to hold Richmond
General St. John
On March 31st, or possibly the morning of April 1st, a telegram was received at the bureau in Richmond, from the commissary officer of the Army of Northern Virginia, requesting breadstuffs to be sent to Petersburg.
Shipment was commenced at once, and was pressed to the extreme limit of transportation permitted by the movement of General Longstreet's corps (then progressing