HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
October 21, 1864.
HON. SEC. OF WAR, Richmond.
SIR: I consider it very important to supply the garrisons in the forts below Wilmington with thirty days' provisions, in case the enemy should succeed in cutting them off from the city. I directed General Whiting to endeavor to obtain provisions for the purpose in North Carolina, but he has not succeeded in doing so, nor do I know that it is in his power. The amount of subsistence issued to the army in Virginia and North Carolina is not sufficient to enable us to retain what is required for these garrisons for the time indicated. We now get bacon for the troops only once in four days, and the Commissary Department informed Colonel Cole, chief C. S. of the army, that we must rely on cattle. As the collection of supplies is in the hands of the officers of the C. S. Department, Colonel Cole does not know what number of cattle or what amount of provisions he can count upon, so as to make any arrangements to provide for those garrisons from stores that may come into their hands. I think that it would be better that the C. S. Department should provide the desired supplies if practicable, and I respectfully ask that you will direct that it be done if it be in the power of that department to accomplish it.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
SOURCE: John William Jones, Life and Letters of Robert Edward Lee: Soldier and Man, p. 341-2