October 12, 1863


General R. E. Lee,

Comdg. Army of Northern Va., Orange C. H., Va.:


I am in receipt of your recent letter in which, after stating that your army is much in want of shoes for men and horses, and blankets for the former, you request that all that can be furnished may be placed at the disposal of your chief quartermaster, and also that you may be informed what provision can be made to meet your wants.

It was not my fortune to see Lieutenant-Colonel Corley while he was here. You have no doubt heard from him of the limited supplies on hand at this point. Such as were here were placed at his disposal, and I immediately telegraphed to distant points to secure the number of shoes—some 8,000—required by Colonel Corley’s report, to provide for the barefooted men of your command. Some 2,000 pairs of shoes have been forwarded by Lieutenant-Colonel Cone, direct from his depot here; 1,229 pairs, also, received from Wilmington, and 3,500 are daily expected that were ordered from Columbus, Ga. I regretted very much to learn on Saturday that Maj. C. D. Hill, established at this point by Colonel Corley himself, had on hand, at this date of that officer’s visit and call for supplies, over 3,000 pairs of shoes which were entirely overlooked. I have directed that these too be sent up immediately. In this way nearly 10,000 pairs will be supplied, which is a little in excess of the very pressing demand; and others will be added so soon as they can be provided through our home resources or from foreign arrivals. There are some 15,000 overcoats on hand here, and a fair supply of clothing at this and other depots; but blankets are extremely scarce. About 4,000 have been issued to your troops within the past month, leaving in the depot here only 1,500, which, with 12,000 at Atlanta, Ga., for which the commands in that section of the country are clamorous, constitute the entire supply; and unfortunately our domestic resources in this particular are very limited. All the horse-shoes here and some that have been drawn from other points are on their way to you.

I have postponed some days my reply that I might learn the contents of a cargo just arrived at Wilmington. I am glad to say that some 10,500 pairs shoes and 6,500 blankets, besides a quantity of leather, are reported as received. These will relieve, I hope, your present necessities to a great extent, and the requisitions of Colonel Corley shall be filled as promptly as possible. In view of the exhausted condition of our resources here, I am using every effort to draw a winter’s supply from abroad, and while the difficulties and uncertainties are such as to forbid my stating results in advance, I still hope to be able to provide, with economy, for the pressing wants of our armies in the field.


A. R. Lawton




Source: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, Volume 29, Part 2, pp. 784-785


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 October 10