[Special Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]
Army of Northern Virginia, Dec. 23d, 1863.
The elements have proclaimed an armistice which will ensure a suspension of campaigning for the next five months. In the meantime let us hope that the Congress
of our Confederacy will not permit the appropriate season to pass without the enactment of such laws as will recruit our wasted armies and exhaust our depleted treasury.
If we mean to make good our claims to independence, we must strike bold and decisive blows during the ensuing spring
This we can only do by bringing every available able-bodied young man to the field this winter, and devising such schemes as will ensure the army and the people a sufficiency of bread and meat to subsist upon.
These are the topics of legislation which must be fairly met and fully overcome, in order to our success in the all-important campaign of the coming summer.
The sentiment of the army is decidedly in favor of bringing out the principals who have furnished substitutes.
The whole army, I think, would submit graciously to the bill of Mr. Miles
, conscripting them for the war, even in their present organizations, if the men who have furnished substitutes are only included in the bill, or are reached by proper legislation.
The roads, as I mentioned before, are all undergoing thorough repair, and in some cases will be planked; in others they will be thoroughly covered with stone and made quite serviceable.
For this purpose heavy details are made daily from almost every regiment in the army.
The attention now being paid to the roads and the present condition of transportation make it a matter quite certain that we shall be able to keep the animals in much better order than they were kept last winter.
Large quantities of baled hay arrive every day, and I should suppose that if proper attention has been paid to the taking care of the tax in kind that an abundance of long food could be readily obtained for the animals this winter.
There is considerable preparation in a small way among officers and men for Christmas
The good folks at home, in many instances, are not forgetting the gallant boys in the field, as the number of boxes arriving too plainly tell.
I saw one box come to hand on yesterday containing, according to present valuation in Confederate currency, not less than six hundred dollars' worth of good things.
And who, think you, kind reader, sent it to this gallant boy in the held?
Why, if I must tell, it was his betrothed, and then the note that accompanied it was much more highly prized than all else which that box contained.
Who would not have a sweetheart?
The system of permanent furloughs instituted in this army in August last is working like a charm, and desertions are much less numerous.
But, at the same time, it may be well to observe that the military discipline is, if anything, more stringent than ever, and little or no leniency can be expected for those who abandon their country's standard.
Among the improvements introduced in this army, in order to promote its efficiency, I am pleased to notice the shoe factory organized by Gen. Mahone
in his brigade to supply his men with shoes made to measure and as they are needed.--It would be a good thing for the troops if factories could be started in every brigade in the army.
"Marse Robert" E. Lee
returned from Richmond
on Monday, after an absence of ten days, during which he has doubtless given much of good counsel to the President
touching the public affairs.
is in good health, and never was in better spirits.
I have frequently been asked the names of the gentlemen comprising the Staff
of the General Commanding
I will give it as follows; Col. R. H. Chilton
, A. A. G., Chief of Staff
; Lieut-Col. B. G. Baldwin
, Chief of Ordnance
; Lieut.-Col. J. L. Corbey
, Chief Quartermaster
; Lieut.-Col. A. A. Cole
, Chief Commissary
; Surgeon S. Guild
, Medical Director
; Lieut. Col. Murphy
, inspector General
; Major Henry G. Peyton
, Assistant Inspector General
; Major C. Marshall
is his Private Secretary
; and Majors C. S. Venable
and W. H. Taylor
are his Aids.
There has been for some time past a system of highway robbery going on in the lines of this army.
To such an extent has it been carried that furloughed soldiers have found it necessary to go armed and in squads from the lower parts of the lines to the nearest depot.
A few days since details were made from different corps of sharpshooters and sent out to look after the robbers.
A squad came up with some suspicions characters, and an exciting race ensued; one man was captured, taken before Gen. Rhodes
, and committed for trial.
The sutlers are moving to the front in "droves," and are literally "coining" Confederate money by their sales.