Gen. Lee wrote to the Secretary of War, on the 22d of January, that his army was not fed well enough to fit them for the exertions of the spring campaign; and recommended the discontinuance of the rule of the Commissary-General allowing officers at Richmond, Petersburg, and many other towns, to purchase government meat, etc. etc. for the subsistence of their families, at schedule prices. He says the salaries of these officers ought to be sufficient compensation for their services; that such allowances deprived the officers and soldiers in the field of necessary subsistence, and encouraged able-bodied men to seek such easy positions; it offended the people who paid tithes, to see them consumed by these non-combating colonels, majors, etc., instead of going to feed the army; and it demoralized the officers and soldiers in the field.
This letter was referred to the Commissary-General, who, after the usual delay, returned it with a long argument to show that Gen. Lee was in “error,” and that the practice was necessary, etc.
To this the Secretary responded by a peremptory order, restricting the city officers in the item of meat.
Again the Commissary-General sends it back, recommending the suspension of the order until it be seen what Congress will do! Here are twenty days gone, and the Commissary-General has his own way still. He don't hesitate to bully the Secretary and the highest generals in the field. Meantime the Commissary-General's pet officers and clerks are living sumptuously while the soldiers are on hard fare. But, fortunately, Gen. Lee has captured 1200 beeves from the enemy since his letter was written.
And Gen. Cobb writes an encouraging letter from Georgia. He says there is more meat in that State than any one supposed; and men too. Many thousands of recruits can be sent forward, and meat enough to feed them.
The President has issued a stirring address to the army.
The weather is still clear, and the roads are not only good, but dusty—yet it is cold.
They say Gen. Butler, on the Peninsula, has given orders to his troops to respect private property—and not to molest noncombatants.
SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2, p. 146-7