[Received War Department, December 28, 1861.]
SIR: At the request of many of our most reliable friends in East Tennessee I have come to Richmond, to lay before you a faithful account of East Tennessee matters.
The conflicting views of your friends in that quarter have been calculated to perplex your mind in regard to the policy best adapted to the peculiar condition of East Tennessee.
Regarding the conversion of East Tennessee to our cause an object of vast importance, I have for the last four months devoted my efforts chiefly to that end; and the statements of facts to which I ask your attention are founded on my personal observation and investigation, unbiased by party prejudices or personal animosities, which have done more than everything else to keep alive in East Tennessee the prejudices of the people against the Confederate Government.
It is the opinion of the best informed and most reliable men in East Tennessee that all the Confederate troops now employed in guarding the railroads and suppressing rebellion in East Tennessee, except one regiment, might be safely sent to other points, where troops are really needed; and that if proper measures were immediately adopted to bring back to their families all innocent men who have been carried or frightened away from their homes, it would restore peace and a sense of security to the people, and put an end to all appearances of disloyalty to the Confederate Government in East Tennessee. And I believe that the wrongs they have suffered, if properly explained and promptly relieved, will afford an occasion for a striking display of the justice, wisdom, and power of the Confederate Government, which will do more to insure the fidelity of the people of East Tennessee than all the severity of punishment advised by the violent partisans of that section, who have provoked the prejudices of the people against themselves, and consequently against the Government, of which they were supposed to be the true exponents.
H. R. AUSTIN.
KNOXVILLE, TENN., December 28, 1861.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN, Richmond, Va.:
DEAR SIR: Your letter of the 22nd instant, addressed to J. C. Ramsay, esq., Confederate States district attorney, in relation to Brownlow's case, which appears in the Knoxville Register of this morning, may make an erroneous impression on the public mind as to the part which I took in procuring a passport for him. The careless reader may suppose that the Government intended to arrest him, and abandoned the purpose and consented to his leaving the Confederate States on the ground of my representation that he was so concealed as to be entirely beyond its power. So far as I knew or believed no officer of the Government at Richmond contemplated his arrest. The application for him to leave was promptly assented to by you, and in answer to an objection by President Davis that it appeared to be discriminating in favor of Brownlow, conferring upon him a privilege not accorded to others, &c., you replied that you were willing for all to go that wanted to, and you spoke of making a proclamation to this effect, showing conclusively that you were not controlled in your action upon this matter by the belief that Brownlow was beyond your power.
These impressions, which may be made from a casual reading of