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[482] though willing to let the government have their crops, were averse, if not stubbornly opposed to having them destroyed.

This proposition was submitted to President Davis. It was endorsed in the bureau of subsistence: “The alternative is thus presented of violating our policy of withholding cotton from the enemy or risking the starvation of our armies;” and it was suggested that the Commissary General be authorized to contract for bacon and salt, limiting the amount of purchase to what was absolutely necessary to feed the army and supply it with blankets and shoes, showing that no law forbade this traffic; that the precedents of other wars justified it; and advising that the Commissary Genera] should, under such circumstances, upon his own statement of the necessity, be allowed to make the contract, which, this officer added, nothing less than the danger of sacrificing our armies would induce “him to acquiesce in.” Upon that letter the President endorsed as follows:

Secretary of War
Is there any necessity for immediate action? Is there satisfactory evidence that the present opportunity is the last which will be offered? Have you noted the scheme of the enemy for the payment of their next accruing interest on their public debt? You will not fail to perceive the effect of postponing the proposed action until January 1, 1863, if it be necessary at any time to depart from the well-defined policy of our government in relation to cotton.

Jeff. Davis October 31, 1862.

President Davis was assured that the consequences of the refusal of this policy of exchange would be most serious. Col. Northrop, the Commissary General, informed him that present efforts, even if successful, would not produce cured bacon for the next year. The departments of the east had been exhausted, while the increasing number of refugees, driven from their homes by the enemy's arms, added to the consumers. The results hoped for from Tennessee were not probably equal to the demands of the troops on the west of the mountains and in Tennessee. A statement was made in the bureau of subsistence, that the supply of hogs for 1862 would be about one hundred thousand short of the supply for the preceding year, and that the supply of beef was well nigh exhausted. This statement was communicated to President Davis, with the following endorsement by Mr. Randolph, then Secretary of War: “Unless the deficiency be made up by purchases beyond the limits of the Confederacy, I apprehend serious consequences.”

President Davis refused to see the necessity so plainly indicated to him. He still lingered in the conceit of an early termination of the war, and in spite of the plainest figures he persisted in the belief that the requisite amount of supplies for the army might still be procured from sources within the Confederate States. How far he was mistaken in this, will be

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