C. S. ENGINEER OFFICE,
Nashville, Tenn., December 7, 1861.
Lieutenant Colonel W. W. MACKALL,
Adjutant-General, Hdqrs. West. Dept., Bowling Green, Ky.:
SIR: For the information of the commanding general I have to report that the agents employed under the sanction of Governor Harris to engage the services of negroes from their masters to work on the entrenchments for defending the city of Nashville against land approach have failed to procure a force at all adequate to the magnitude of the work contemplated. In fact, the number of hands is insignificant, and the agents report that it will be impracticable to procure them at this time, as the negroes in the vicinity of this city are their masters. It is not probable, therefore, that any material progress can be made in the construction of the proposed defenses during the present month unless other labor can be applied. It is to be feared, too, that the call for military service has taken so large a proportion of the laboring classes from this community that it will be difficult, if at all possible, to procure white laborers at any price that will be reasonable.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. F. GILMER,
Major, and Chief Engineer Western Department.
HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, WESTERN DEPARTMENT, December 7, 1861.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War:
Having resumed command of my division and surveyed the field of operations immediately before me, as well as the force now coming to my aid, I find I want more general officers. The time at my disposal is short, as I have good reason to believe the enemy will make his contemplated attack on my position between this and the 20th or 30th current.
I nominate General James Trudeau, of the Louisiana Legion, who is now with me in command of part of his force, as a brigadier-general. I have several regiments from Louisiana here and am expecting more. They are entitled to a brigade commander.
I also nominate General Frost, of the Missouri Army, now in my camp, for the office of brigadier-general. General Frost, as you may know, is a graduate of West Point, and served for near ten years in the Army in various arms. He is man of military attainments, and would, I have reason to believe, fill the office named with ability. He was to have gone to General Price, but General Halleck failed to comply with the engagements made by the general with General Fremont to send him to Price's army, and he was obliged to come here. His services would be valuable to me in emergency before me.
The State of Arkansas has about twelve regiments in the field, many of them under my command, and is without a brigade commander. I nominate Colonel E. W. Gantt as a suitable person for that office. So far as I know, he has more military capacity than any other of those who are in command of her regiments.
The force of my command at this point should not be less than 50,000, if it were at the disposal of the Government.