The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 21, July 1917 - April, 1918 Page: 298
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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Communication with Richmond was uncertain; it was months
after laws were passed by Congress before they were received west
of the river. The commanding general received few letters from
chief officials during the winters of 1863-64 and 1864-65. He was
beset with many difficulties; he had no means; there were con-
flicting claims and conflicting authorities; and copies of the laws
which would have helped him were not received until months after
their enactment. Under these circumstances, he had found it nec-
essary in 1863, when organizing the cotton bureau, to, assume con-
trol over treasury agents. in the department. In December, 1864,
the question of his authority to do this came up in the house, and
the president was requested to submit to, that body copies of all
instructions from the secretary of war to General Smith by which
the latter claimed the right to assume control over agents of the
treasury. The data was submitted January 25, 1865, but so far
as can be determined no action was taken.37
In this matter of granting civil powers, then, it seems that the
executive officers early realized the necessity that some such author-
ity be given to the commander of the department, but were un-
willing to commit themselves definitely; that Congress was silent
on the question of the control by the general of the non-military
agencies it established in the department; that the executive officers,
after the meeting of Congress, were inclined to interpret the dele-
gation of power as extending over the civil administration, but
they saved themselves by artfully inserting the qualifying phrase
"so far as the constitution permits"; and that when General Smith,
under pressure of necessity, assumed some of those functions, the
authorities at Richmond acquiesced.
"Journal of Cog. of C. S., VII, 403-404; also see Seddon to Davis,
January 23, 1865. Off. Res., LIII, 1309.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 21, July 1917 - April, 1918, periodical, 1918; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101073/m1/304/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.