to the command of this post. I beg to be informed if the order is to be interpreted as relieving me from duty, inasmuch as nothing of the kind appears on the face of the order. I was assigned to duty in command of the troops and defenses of Atlanta by the honorable Secretary of War in July, 1863. I have been anxious to be relieved for some time and have so expressed myself, but the order assigning superior in rank, though I was never assigned to duty in command of the post. An early reply will greatly oblige me, as I will then know whether I am to turn over public property, &c., to General Wright or not. I would greatly prefer being relieved in due form than simply by an implied order.
I am, general, &c.,
M. H. WRIGHT,
Colonel, Commanding, &c.
CONFIDENTIAL.] HDQRS. DEPT. OF EAST TENNESSEE, March 4, 1864.
General R. E. LEE,
Commanding Army of Northern Virginia:
GENERAL: My letter in reply to yours of the 17th ultimo failed to notice your suggestion in rear to co-operation between General Johnston, and myself. My move upon Knoxville last month was made with the view of getting co-operation on the part of General Johnson, and after we had driven the enemy into his works around him o cut the enemy's line of communication in order to prevent his re-enforcing at Knoxville with great odds against me. General Johnston, in reply said that he had detached so strong a force that he could not aid me. Under these circumstances it seemed to me hardly worth the time and trouble that would be necessary for me to lay siege to Knoxville again.
Soldiers just in from Middle Tennessee report the enemy moving back to Kentucky in great force to meet a move expected in that becomes the more important, if not essential, and it seems to me that your. By great exertions it is feasible and gives promise of great results. I feel confident, too, of doing more in it than meets the eye.
There is another way of making the move, but I think it more difficult than the one that I have previously proposed; that is, to move your army, or a part of it, with mine. By yielding for a time your present position you could join me with part of your army and Richmond Johnston would be able to remain in position until he could draw the enemy off from his front, and he would also have time to get to Richmond before any serious injury could be injury could be inflicted in that quarter.
It is in our power to place matters in such a position as to secure peace upon such terms as we wish within the year or year and a half, if we use the energy, caution, and perseverance that we owe to our people who have yielded to our care their all; but to do this we must have our own plans and not allow ourselves to be diverted from them by any effort of the enemy.