[This blog post was written by Debbi Blake, Public Services Branch Head for the North Carolina State Archives.]
By the fall of 1862, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia was ill-equipped and underfed. During the Antietam campaign, conditions were so bad that General Robert E. Lee told President Jefferson Davis that he could not properly equip or supply provisions for the his troops. A number of conditions came together during this period to produce a perfect storm of inadequate supplies for the Confederate armies.
During the summer of 1862, a drought had limited production of food in southern communities. Difficulties in transportation meant that any food that was produced was not able to be shipped. Ordnance was of sufficient volume, but the quality very poor. In addition to inferior weapons, the troops had inadequate clothing and shoes. The Confederate government and some state governments contracted with local businesses to furnish uniforms and shoes. Shortages of wool and leather sent prices higher and higher.
This letter was written to Francis Levin and Henry William Fries, Forsyth County manufacturers of cotton and wool, who had provided goods to the state at agreed upon prices. The tone of Vance’s letter to them indicates the depth of his concern for the welfare of the troops during this trying time, as well as his frustration with some manufacturers.