southward). No calls, by letter or requisition, from the General commanding, or from any other source, official or unofficial, had been received either by the Commissary-General or the Assistant Commissary-General; nor (as will be seen by the appended letter of the Secretary of War) was any communication transmitted through the department channels to the bureau of subsistence, for the collection of supplies at Amelia Court-House.
Had any such requisition or communication been received at the bureau as late as the morning of April 1st, it could have been met from the Richmond reserve with transportation on south-bound trains, and most assuredly so previous to General Longstreet's movement.
On the morning of the 3d the Commissary General
and joined General R. E. Lee
at Amelia Springs
There were at that time about eighty thousand rations at Farmville
, ‘there held on trains for immediate use.’
On the morning of the 6th the Commissary General
asked General Lee
whether he should send those rations down the railroad or hold them at Farmville
Not receiving instructions, the rations remained at Farmville
, and on the 7th the army passing there took a portion of them.
On the morning of the 8th the subsistence trains on the railroad at Pamphlin's Station, twenty miles west of Farmville
, were attacked by the enemy's cavalry and captured, or burned to avoid capture.
The surrender followed on the subsequent day. The foregoing extracts, I think, prove unquestionably that no orders were received to place supplies for Lee
's army at Amelia Court House
; that sufficient supplies were in depot to answer the immediate wants of the army, and that the failure to distribute them to the troops on their retreat was due to the active operations of the enemy on all our lines of communication; hence, when the Commissary General
applied to General Lee
for instructions as to where supplies should be placed, he says, ‘General Lee
replied in substance that the military situation did not permit an answer.’
Lest, however, what has been given should not seem conclusive to others, I add confirmatory testimony.
General John C. Breckinridge
, in a letter to General I. M. St. John
, of date May 16, 1871, wrote:
A few days before the evacuation of Richmond you reported to me that besides supplies accumulated at different distant points in Virginia and North Carolina, you had ten days rations accessible by rail to [General Lee] and subject to the orders of his chief commissary.
I have no recollection of any communication from General Lee in regard to the accumulation of rations at Amelia Court-House. . . . The second or third day after the evacuation, I recollect you said to General Lee in my presence that you had a large number of rations (I think eighty thousand) at a convenient point on the railroad, and desired to know where you should place them.
The General replied that the military situation made it impossible to answer.
In a letter of the date of September, 1865, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas