will be much obliged to you for it, and also for any other regiments you can spare to aid me in developing this column.
I am, truly, &c.,
Brigadier-General, C. S. Army.
KNOXVILLE, TENN., December 13, 1861.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War:
DEAR SIR: My letter to you of the 3rd instant was hastily and inconsiderately written, and I regret the strong and intemperate language used; and inasmuch as no exceptions, except the most mild and gentlemanly terms, have been taken to that letter, I feel myself under the more obligations to make an apology.
I have been peculiarly situated here in East Tennessee. My fight with the Lincolnites for the last eight months has been as severe a conflict as any this war will record. I have not only held possession of the East Tennessee and Georgia Road against the will of the Lincoln portion of my stockholders, and for a long time guarded our bridges with troops in our own pay, but I have worked the road all the time in the face of this violent and threatening opposition, and never once failed to carry through both troops and munitions and provisions without delay. Moreover, when the East Tennessee and Virginia completely broke down, I did not hesitate to shoulder that responsibility, and by superhuman efforts operated it also, to what advantage to the Army you are aware. Under all these circumstances, worn down by excitement and labor, I am sometimes thrown off my guard. When the Hessians burned my bridges, Colonel Myers immediately wrote me to know what aid I needed. Not wanting to tax any one with my work, I answered promptly, "None other than to send me funds due for work done for the Confederate States." Colonel Ashe came along; I gave him the same answer, and he assured me our money should be paid, and on his arrival at Richmond telegraphed me to send McClung immediately for our money. I sent McClung, and was astonished to receive by telegraph from him the news that Colonel Myers not only repudiated Ashe's contract with the roads, but it would be days before he would be able to send me money. This, in addition to the fact that captains, majors, colonels, &c., were ordering our trains in and out, hazarding life and property, and leaving me no control of either road or ferries, and then the order from Richmond to guard Brownlow, the prince of bridge-burning Lincolnites, over the mountains in safety, all conspired to put out of humor much more even-tempered men than myself. The truth is I felt that under such circumstances I would retire and let others take my place. So you see I have some excuse for my bad letter.
I regret that I have had hard thoughts towards Colonel Myers, for I will say that he has all the time treated me with great kindness and courtesy.
I will not bore you further. Suffice it to say that I am all right again, and at your service in any honorable way my poor abilities can be used.
In two weeks I will have a better bridge than the one destroyed.