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[COPY.] Headquarters of the Army, Washington, D.C., December 24, 1864 Maj. Gen. G. M. Dodge, St. Louis. GENERAL: The letters of Chaplain A. Wright, of October 29th, with the endorsement of yourself and Colonel Myers, in regard to hiring the Virginia Hotel, at a rental of 10,000 Dollars, for occupation by soldiers' wives and widows, and refugees from Arkansas and S. E. Missouri, have been submitted to the Secretary of War, who directs me to say, that there is no appropriation for such purpose, and that the rent cannot be paid from appropriations for the Quartermaster's Department. As numerous applications of the same kind, and for issue of rations by the Commissary Department, have been made from other Cities and States, I am directed to say in general terms, that military appropriations cannot be expended for objects merely charitable, and not of military character. The poor and destitute of each locality, whether they be families or soldiers or political refugees, should be supported by the Government of those localities, or by charitable associations or institutions. The War Department has, without the authority of Congress, no more power to expend public money for such purposes in St. Louis, than it would have in New York. It sometimes happens that within the theatre of war or its immediate vicinity, there is no local authority to afford proper relief in such cases, or that those authorities are hostile to the Union, and therefore are not unwilling to see Union refugees and the families of soldiers suffer. In such cases the military authorities are under the necessity of interfering, by levying military contributions for that purpose. You will present this subject to the municipal authorities and prominent citizens of St. Louis, and if the proper relief cannot be afforded by them, you will report by telegram to the War Department for authority to levy military contributions for that purpose. You are authorized to permit the use of any public buildings, or any buildings seized from disloyal owners, with their furniture, not required for military purposes, for the temporary occupation of the class of persons referred to. Very respectfully, Your obedient servant, (Signed,) H.W. Halleck, Maj. Gen. & Chief of Staff. Official Copy. (Signed,) J.C. Kelton, A.A.G. Headquarters Army, December 31st, 1864.
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