be a field for future operations. If the command is to remain, it should be so understood from the Department.
If this field is to be held with a view to future operations, I earnestly desire that some other officer be sent to the command. If a senior officer can be sent, I can cheerfully give him all the aid in my power. If none but a junior can be spared, it will give me much pleasure to relinquish in his favor, and aid him by any suggestions that my experience may enable me to give.
I regret to say that a combination of circumstances has so operated during the campaign in East Tennessee as to prevent the complete destruction of the enemy's forces in this part of the State. It is fair to infer that the fault is entirely with me, and I desire, therefore, that some other commander be tried.
I thought it necessary a few days ago to relieve Major-General McLaws from duty with this command and to order him to Augusta, Ga. Charges will be forwarded in the case in a few days. Since his removal I find other plans in operation, some which seem to be with a view to the promotion of individuals, and others probably for the purpose of avoiding the arduous service which my troops are exposed to. These are my excuses. But, as I have already stated, the fair and proper inference is that the fault is entirely with me. I am therefore exceedingly anxious that the country should have the services of some officer who may be better suited to such a position. I believe that this is the only personal favor that I have asked of the Government, and I hope that I may reason to except that it may be granted.
I remain, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
JANUARY 5, 1864.
Respectfully submitted to the Secretary of War.
I have telegraphed General Longstreet that no authority exists with a commanding general to relieve officers of his command from duty and send them beyond the limits of his command; that he might have arrested General McLaws on his charges and held him to await the action of the Department, and that he had better now recall him for that purpose. He was also told that as senior officer in the Department East Tennessee he was, by military rule and usage, the commander of that department, with all the rights and privileges pertaining to such command. He has therefore the right to order courts-martial, except in cases where he himself prefers the charges.
Adjutant and Inspector General.
Russellville, Tennessee, December 30, 1863.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond:
GENERAL: I have the honor to inclose herewith charges and specifications against Maj. General L. McLaws* and against Brig. General J. B. Robertson.