hit him a hard blow. I would suggest that you have the country examined, routes explored, and strong positions ascertained and improved. There is some report of a projected movement of the enemy next spring by the route from Knoxville and the abandonment of this to Richmond. It is believed that such a movement will be as successful as that by Grant on Vicksburg. As they have not been able yet to overcome the 80 miles between Washington and Richmond, by the shortest road, I hope they will not be able to accomplish the more circuitous route. Not knowing what they intended to do, and what General Johnston can do, has prevented my recommending your return to this army. After hearing that you were in comfortable quarters and had plenty of provisions and forage, I thought it was best you should remain where you are until spring, or until it was determined what could be done. I hope you will be able to recruit your corps. In reference to that, how would General Buckner answer for the command of Hood's division, at least until it is seen whether he ever can return to it?
You may recollect just before you went west certain promotions in the artillery of this army were agreed on, and that it was desired to promote Colonel Alexander, as chief of your corps, to the rank of brigadier-general, provided Colonel Walton could get service south. This I could not accomplish at the time, nor have I been able to do so since. Not wishing the officers in the other corps to be promoted without advancing those in yours, so that their relative rank might be preserved, I have refrained from sending in the recommendations, but the season of active operations is approaching, and I wish the organization perfected. I see by an order of yours that Colonel Alexander has been appointed chief of artillery of your corps. Is it permanent or temporary, and do you wish him promoted? As some change in your opinion as to the relative merits of the officers with you may have been made by your service west, I inclose a copy* of the promotions proposed in your corps, as you may not have one. It was arranged upon the supposition that Colonel Walton could be assigned to other duty. If he cannot, he and Major Eshleman will be the field officers of the Washington Artillery. General Pendleton has proposed an exchange between Colonel Cabell and Lieutenant-Colonel Lightfoot. I do not know whether that can be accomplished. Let me hear from you as soon as convenient.
With kind regards to yourself and all with you, I am, very truly, yours,
R. E. LEE,
COMO, MISS., January 16, 1864.
Henderson's scouts from Memphis report Sixteenth Army Corps under marching orders to drive you from North Mississippi. Rumored they will start from Memphis, La Grange, Corinth, and Yazoo City simultaneously.
JAS. R. CHALMERS,