24, "'Let the waters bring forth abundantly,' and it was done." Nashvillian S. R. Cockrill's unusual memorandum relative to providing fish for Confederate Army
MARIETTA, Ga., October 24, 1863.
THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES, Sitting at Augusta:
Called together as you are by the Secretary of War to aid by your actions and counsels the Subsistence Department, I hope good results may follow your deliberations. I have implicit confidence that our independence will be won by the valor of our troops, but not without much effort and privation. If there be a question about which there is danger, it is the supply of meat for the Army. While we held Middle and East Tennessee there was no danger. At present they are in the possession of the enemy, and it is now uncertain what supply of meat, if any, will be drawn from that quarter. This may interfere materially with your prices, and hence the propriety of embracing all our resources in this terrific conflict. We have men, arms, ammunition, bread, and clothes, and a supply of meat must be had, as we are resolved not to be subjugated. The infamous enemy who invades our country threatens to starve us into submission. God said: "Let the waters bring forth abundantly," and it was done. He gave to man dominion over the fish of the sea. In our rivers, lakes, and bays there is an inexhaustible supply of fish, which in our abundance we have never resorted to. It is the part of wisdom now to look to this providential supply placed beyond the reach and control of the enemy. If driven to the necessity the Army can be fed from the waters. In political economy supply and demand determine prices. The plan to diminish the price of meat for the Army is to increase the supply. As agents for the Government this becomes a legitimate question for your body. How is this to be done? The stock regions are mainly in the hands of the enemy, and in the cotton States we have not time to grow them now to meet what may become an important emergency; that is, a scant supply of meat for the Army. The most certain and ready resource, then, is to assume dominion over the fish of the sea. How is this to be done? I make the following suggestions:
First. By orders from the proper military department detail 10,000 men from the several armies, selected for their fitness for this service, such as disabled soldiers, new conscripts, and men over forty-five (if found necessary), who shall be placed under proper officers at the best fisheries to be found in the Confederacy.
Second. They are detailed as a permanent force to furnish an additional supply of meat for the Army from the waters, by all the appliances used for such purposes, to wit, traps, seines, floats and hooks, trot-lines, nets, spears, gigs, hooks, &c.
Third. The Government to furnish a supply of salt and the fish as caught to be scaled, dressed, and salted. This service can be rendered by women, either white or black, or both.
Fourth. A detail of rough carpenters should be made to make boxes and barrels, and quartermasters to superintend the transportation to depots, &c.
Fifth. Officers in attendance should make reports weekly to higher authorities.
The above is a sufficient outline of the plan. The object is to add to the supply of meat for the Army, thereby enabling you to control the price thereof. An experiment may show that it is economy in the Government thus to employ force enough to furnish half the meat required by the Army. It is the legitimate mode of effecting the price of what is to be bought. If this force should average ten pounds each per day it would give 100,000 pounds per day, which would be rations for an army of 200,000 men. We know that men can live on fish. We know that the supply in the rivers is abundant. We know that industry and system will get them out of the waters. It is too uncertain in the hands of individuals, hence the necessity of organizing a regular force to work at this alone by the Government. They are reliable meat growers. It develops one of the hidden resources of the Confederacy at a time when it is needed. The soldiers of the Army may become alarmed about a meat supply as we are cut off from Tennessee and Kentucky. This should be relieved as soon as possible. Establish the fact that we have a supply of meat in the waters and our independence is won. We can't fail on any other question; we must not fail on this. Bonaparte passed the Alps when the world thought it was impossible. The supply is in the waters beyond doubt, large enough to feed the whole population of the Confederate States, and will we sit down and say we can't get out enough to feed 200,000 men? At many of the fisheries a large quantity of oil could be made-much needed now by the Army. The plan will not interfere with the field force, and its successful execution is recommended by the highest considerations. To insure success, however, I think that if the Secretary of War will give the orders and authority to Gen. Gideon J. Pillow that he will put the whole plan into operation sooner that any man in the Confederate States. He is practical and of untiring energy and industry. He knows how such things can be done. He can direct matters in the Conscript Bureau and attend to this meat supply also. If these views meet the approval of the commissioners I hope they will in their official capacity urge its immediate adoption upon the Secretary of War. I think we have no time to lose.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
S. R. COCKRILL, Nashville, Tenn.
BUREAU OF SUBSISTENCE, November 10, 1863.
Respectfully returned to the Secretary of War.
The writer says correctly that our people have not paid attention to fisheries in the lakes and rivers of the interior, of which the products would scarcely support the hands employed. The shad fisheries on the tide waters of the rivers have been attended to, and the supply has of late years been steadily diminishing because the fish caught were on their way up to spawn. The results of this business have not exceeded local consumption. It was conducted by plantation negroes [sic] and by Yankees. The writer has not shown from Scripture that the promised dominion over the waters and the fishes therein will confer on the 10,000 Confederate invalids and exempts the skill to fabricate all the appliances necessary to catch the fish or the judgment, perseverance, and hardihood requisite to use them successfully, even if the vast amount of cord needed was obtainable. Nor has it been shown that in the absence of these facilities and endowments the promised dominion will cause in the fish a due avidity to be caught, even if the season of the year will admit the present application of the plan. It must also be shown that the promised dominion over the waters will be admitted by Mr. Lincoln in favor of the Confederates, and induce him to prohibit hereafter the boat expeditions which have been used with great activity heretofore to break up the fisheries in the waters of Virginia and North Carolina. This whole subject has long ago been carefully considered, and but little fish has been secured during the past two seasons. The impossibility of getting seines or the cord to make them has restricted our efforts and they have failed. Professor Richardson, of Marietta, made long communications on the subject, and the reports of Maj. White, of Florida, thereon are conclusive. Landsmen often fail in their theories on marine matters from want of familiarity with little details which the experience of seamen alone furnishes. If Gen. G. J. Pillow can realize the results indicated this Bureau will be greatly benefited directly.
L. B. NORTHROP, Commissary-Gen. of Subsistence.
OR, Ser. IV, Vol. 2, pp. 916-918.
24, Brigadier General John C. Vaughn seeks permission to issue a Confederate proclamation pardoning all East Tennesseans in the Federal service
HDQRS. CAVALRY, &C.,
Morristown, October 24, 1864.
Maj. J. STODDARD JOHNSTON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.:
MAJ.: I would respectfully call your attention to the propriety of a proclamation being issued, in this immediate department, granting pardon to all East Tennesseeans in the Federal service who will abandon the Federal army lay down their arms, and return to their homes. There are hundreds of East Tennesseeans at home who are willing to quit the U. S. service, provided they are not conscript or arrested and sent away as prisoners of war by the Confederate authorities. Such a course would decimate the Federal army in this department. In fact, I do not think that a regiment would be left in the Federal service if such a privilege was extended to them. I would urge this policy on the Government. I am personally known to the condition of affairs in this respect.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN C. VAUGHN, Brig.-Gen.
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF WESTERN VA. AND EAST TENN., October 27, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded, to know if this meets the views of the commanding general.
Gen. Vaughn's personal knowledge of the country and people gives weight to his opinions.
JOHN C. BRECKINRIDGE, Maj.-Gen.
OCTOBER 31, 1864.
R. E. LEE, Gen.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 39, pt. III, pp. 847-848.
 Apparently the proclamation was not issued.
James B. Jones, Jr.
Tennessee Historical Commission
2941 Lebanon Road
Nashville, TN 37214