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W42  (Copy)

Head Quarters of the Army
Washington, D.C.  December 24, 1864.

Major Gen G.M. Dodge
St. Louis


The letters of Chaplain A. Wright, of October 29th, with the endorsement of yourself and Colonel Meyers, in regards to hiring the Virginia Hotel, at a rental of 10,000 dollars, for occupation by soldier's wives and widows, and refugees from Arkansas and S.E. Mississippi; 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 the appropriations for the Quarter Master's Department.

As numerous applications of the same kind, and for issue of rations by the Commissary Department, have been made from other Cities & States, I am directed to say in general terms, that the military appropriations cannot be expended for objects merely charitable, and not of a military character.  The poor and destitute of each locality, whether they be families of 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 purpose 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 not unwilling to see Union refugees and families of soldiers suffer.  
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