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 among the ranks. While the commissary was supplied during the early spring of 1865 fairly well with coarse food, the soldiers were poorly clad, at least those who could not depend on shoes and homespun clothes sent them from their homes. The blue uniforms taken from the captured trains of General Banks during the spring of 1864 were threadbare, and the Confederate gray issued by the Quartermaster Department to the private soldiers was indeed scant; yet at this time there was being conducted under the auspices of government officials a large trade with Mexico, in the course of which wagon trains of cotton, then worth 50 cents a pound in gold, were constantly carried across the Rio Grande and train loads of army supplies brought back. The soldiers could not see why so small a proportion of the proceeds of this trade was devoted to their necessities. Although by the conscript laws every ablebodied man (excepting civil officials) between the ages of 18 and 45 was required to be an enlisted soldier, and those between 17 and 18 and 45 and 50 were in the reserve corps doing provost and guard duty, there was an alleged system of detailing favorites on all kinds of imaginary service at posts and about headquarters—‘bomb-proof’ positions, as they were called.
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