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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

December 25, 1863

Reprint from Newnan Newspaper on Shoes

The Richmond Times Dispatch reprinted an item from a Newnan newspaper arguing that there should not be a want of shoes for soldiers, if leather was not wasted.

Why are shoes so for soldiers? –The Newnaw (Ga.) Bulletin the above caption, furnished the following interesting statement: Leather in the Confederacy has become so scarce as to render it exceedingly doubtful whether the army can be shod comfortably the present winter. The cost of leather now almost fabulous. For instance–$175 to $250 pair of boots that cost before the war $40. brogans sell for $35 and $40. It is true that the few articles used in the manufacture of boots and shoes have advanced in proportion to other things, but in a boot or shoe the leather is the main Let us look at the figures and see if we have not been guilty of wof neglect to provide the country, and the army especially, with leather, and also if there has not been a sinful waste of the enormous amount of raw material offered us by the very necessities of war. We allude to the raw hides which accumulated in the army, and which certainly must have been wasted, else we cannot account for the ability of labor. Take one brigade as an instance: It kills seven beeves five mornings in each work. (Two mornings bacon is issued.) The brigade contains an estimate of fifteen hundred men. That would make 35 beef hides per week; per month, and 1,680 hides during the year. Each hide will make seven pairs of shoes, from No. No. 10, which would make in one year for each brigade 11,700 shoes. Say there are three brigade to one division and we would have 35,280 shoes. In short, there are enough beeves killed in our army to afford hides sufficient, if taken care offend tanned, to shoe our army entirely. And this estimate is made out in reference to the present time, when nothing like the number of beeves are killed as in the caroler stages of the war. And yet at present we are suffering for leather, and many soldiers and citizens are without shoes, and without the leather with which to make them. And the heartless shoe-makers (and they are in general the worst extortioners of the South) cannot procure any leather on account of the Government having taken all the leather in the country. Now, we must conclude that there has been a great waste of green hides, and it is a matter of sufficient importance to enlist the attention of our Government to the necessity of saving them.–Surely there has been a reckless waste, and had proper attention been given to the subject at the first there would have been a plentiful supply of leather in the South this day. We speak from a personal observation of twelve months when we aver that the unnecessary waste and neglect in this respect by military commanders is really culpable. Since this war commenced we calculate, at a rough estimate, but below rather than above the real figures, that enough leather could have been tanned from the green hides of beeves killed in our army to have made over twenty millions of shoes!