The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 47, July 1943 - April, 1944 Page: 226
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
the war, some, at least, of the Rebel camps fared well in the
matter of meat." With all the meat the soldiers consumed, there
were still 40,000 cattle ready for packing in the Confederacy at
the end of 1861.' This indicates that the South started with
something. The real pinch began to be felt in early 1863 when
Lee's chief commissary informed him that he would not be able
to make the supply of beeves last through the month of January.
The condition of the beeves issued to the Army of Northern
Virginia was so bad that Lee recommended they be sent some-
where to fatten in the spring. In lieu of the ration of beef he
hoped his chief commissary had enough salt meat to issue.5 Two
weeks later his available supply had dwindled to four days'
fresh beef. Following his usual practice, he refused to resort
to impressing any meat which the civilians in the vicinity of
the army might have. He told the Secretary of War that it
would gain the army little and would anger the people," and
even if he had resorted to commandeering, it would have afford-
ed only temporary relief. He could not remedy a condition which
the Government could not, or would not remedy. That condition
was faulty transportation. The transportation system of the
South was the main adverse factor working against the com-
missary and quartermaster officials. The sad, and steadily de-
teriorating, condition of southern rail lines played a major part
in holding back the flow of provisions to Lee's army and to all
other Confederate forces.7 The Government seemed powerless
to do anything about the railroads and the armies continued to
live on shorter rations. Another adverse factor, during the
latter part of the war, was the Federal blockade, which was
becoming steadily more efficient. Confederate coastwise ship-
ping, which, early in the war, had been transporting sub-
sistence, could no longer do so with any security.8 The shortage
of wagons also told on any effort to collect supplies situated
"George M. Lee to "Dear Sister" (Mrs. Sallie C. Taylor), Jan. 16, 1862,
MS. letter. This letter, with several others, is in the possession of Mrs.
Sallie Lee Boner of Austin, Texas. This collection, edited by the writer,
will appear in the Louisiana Historical Quarterly.
4Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington,
1880-1901, 130 vols. Cited hereafter as O. R.), Series IV, vol. 2, 192.
5Ibid., Ser. I, vol. 51, pt. 2, 669. For the problems involved in salting
meat in the South see Ella Lonn, Salt as a Factor in the Confederacy.
60. R., Ser. I, vol. 25, pt. 2, 597.
7Charles W. Ramsdell, "The Confederate Government and the Railroads"
in The American Historical Review, XXII, 810.
8Evidence of coastwise shipping is contained in Claiborne to Branch,
April 23, 1862. MS. letter in the writer's possession.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 47, July 1943 - April, 1944, periodical, 1944; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146054/m1/257/: accessed May 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.