--The continuous and ruinous depredations on farmers and gardeners in the neighborhood of Richmond
bids fair to increase the now exorbitant prices of all the necessaries of life, if it does not lead to starvation and famine among the poor.
If a farmer has a fair crop growing, and one-half of it is stolen or destroyed, he must double the price on the half left in order to meet his obligations.
The attention of the authorities has been frequently called to the importance of protecting the agricultural districts, but apart from the order of Gen. Lee
, making commandants responsible for the depredations of their commands, nothing has been done.
Not only are stragglers and skulkers allowed to overrun the country and plunder at pleasure, but scores and hundreds roam at large from convalescent and other camps, and, like the locusts of Egypt
, devastate the country through which they pass.
In this city, besides the military hospital patients, there are about one hundred thousand mouths to be supplied with food, and the supply must come from the surrounding country, because of the fact that the railroads are entirely occupied with Government freights.
Of the number named a large proportion are the wives and children of soldiers in the field, most of whom can barely subsist at present prices.
If the growing crops are to be wantonly ruined what are these people to do?
Are they to suffer and starve?
Or will the Government
give them protection?
Commandants of hospitals and camps say it is impossible to keep their men in lines, and, when depredations are committed, declare they can do nothing till the offenders are pointed out. To avoid any further complaints, and at the same time to present the matter in proper form to the Secretary of War
, an informal meeting of Henrico
farmers was held at the Court-House
yesterday, when it was determined to get up a petition, to be signed by the Court
, asking protection.
The petitioners state that beside the regular arm, there are hundreds of stragglers, convalescents, and men in uniform who are not soldiers, continually depredating on neighborhood farms.
To avoid this evil, they suggest that a line of sentinel be stationed around the entire inner fortifications leading from fort to fort, so as to prevent all improper characters from passing.
These sentinels may be taken from each stationary battery, and under the control of their own officers, who will be held accountable for the faithfulness of their men. One hundred men, thus detailed, will not only prevent the depredations of soldiers, but they can readily detect all spies, arrest all blockaders, and keep in subjection the negro population.
As an aid to the battery soldiers two companies of Col. Robbins
's command, who were enlisted for home defence, may be kept near the picket line, and thus render valuable service.
We are sure the County Court
will readily endorse the petition alluded to, and we trust the Secretary of War
will view the matter in its proper light, and order the guard asked for.