cation, to break up his plan of campaign, and, defeating some of his columns, to drive him from the soil as well of Tennessee as of Kentucky. We are deficient in arms, wanting in discipline, and inferior in numbers. Private arms must supply the first want; time and the presence of an enemy, with diligence on the part commanders, will remove the second, and public confidence will overcome the third.
General Bragg brings you disciplined troops, and you will find in him the highest administrative capacity. General E. K. Smith will soon have in East Tennessee a sufficient force to create a strong diversion in your favor; or, if his strength cannot be made available in that way, you will best know how to employ it otherwise. I suppose the Tennessee or Mississippi River will be the object of the enemy's next campaign, and I trust you will be able to concentrate a force which will defeat either attempt.
The fleet which you will soon have on the Mississippi River, if he enemy's gunboats ascend the Tennessee, may enable you to strike an effective blow at Cairo; but to one so well informed and vigilant I will not assume to offer suggestions as to when and how the ends you seek may be obtained.
With the confidence and regard of many years, I am, very truly, your friend,
DECATUR, ALA., March 18, 1862.
[To President DAVIS:]
MY DEAR GENERAL: I received the dispatches from Richmond, with your private letter, by Captain Wickliffe,* three days since, but the pressure of affairs and the necessity of getting my command across the Tennessee prevented me from sending you an earlier reply.
I anticipated all that you tell as to the censures which the fall of Fort Donelson drew upon me and the attacks to which you might be subjected, but it was impossible for me to gather the father the facts for a detailed report or spare the time required to extricate the remained of my troops and save the large accumulation of stores and provisions after the disheartening disaster.
I transmitted the reports of Generals Floyd and Pillow without examining or analyzing the facts, and scarcely with time read them.
When about to assume command of the department the Government charged me with the duty of deciding the question of occupying Bowling Green, which involved not only military but political considerations. At the time of my arrival at Nashville the action of the Legislature of Kentucky had put an end to the latter, by sanctioning the formation camps menacing Tennessee, and by abandoning the neutrality it professed, and, in consequence of their action, the occupation of Bowling Green became necessary as an act of self-defense, at least in the first step.
About the middle of September General Buckner advanced with a small force of about 4,000 men, which was increased by the 15th of October to 12,000, and, though accessions of force were received, continued at about the same strength till the end of the month of November (measles, &c., keeping down the effective force). The enemy's force then was, as reported to the War Department, 50,000, and an advance impossible. No enthusiasm, as we imagined and hoped, but hostility,
*See Davis to Johnston, March 12, p. 257.