War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0850 OPERATIONS IN KY., TENN., N. ALA., AND S. W. VA. Chapter XVII.

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HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, WESTERN DEPARTMENT,

Columbus, Ky., January 28, 1862.

Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN,

Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:

I send to you Mr. N. R. Jennings, of this army, for the purpose of placing before you certain facts with regard to the condition of the defenses of that part of our frontier with which I am charged.

Since I have been in command I have not ceased to press upon the State and Confederate Government the inadequacy of the force at my disposal for the service assigned me. These repeated representations have been met by occasional spasmodic efforts, which have fallen far short of our necessities. I have made use of the force at my command in placing this post in a condition of strong defense, by that means endeavoring to compensate for the want of numbers, but strong as it confessedly is, it will require troops to hold it, and these troops must be in numbers proportionate to the force to be brought against it. The enemy regard it as the main obstacle to their reduction of the Mississippi Valley, and are making preparations for that purpose proportionate to the importance of that object. We must have more force to enable us to hold it, and more force to enable us to take care of our flanks. I have fully discussed our wants with Mr. N. R. Jennings, who is perfectly master of the whole subject, and to whom I beg leave respectfully to refer you for particulars.

Whatever is done must be done quickly and must be done effectually.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

L. POLK.

WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A,

Richmond, Va., January 30, 1862.

General A. SIDNEY JOHNSTON,

Bowling Green, Ky.:

SIR: Some painful rumors have reached the Department attributing the disaster to our arms at Somerset to the intemperance of General Crittenden, the commander of the army.

The President can scarcely believe these rumors to be well founded; but we are at too great a distance to inquire into facts. Many letters are also received here, by members of Congress and others, representing that the army under General Crittenden and the people of East Tennessee have lost confidence in him, and that the morale of the army will be utterly destroyed by his remaining in command.

All such rumors are frequent in case of disaster, and for the most part unjust and unfounded; but the public service requires that they should at all times be sufficiently investigated to ascertain what foundation exists for them. I have therefore to request that you will institute such inquiry into the facts and into the condition of that part of your command as may suffice to guide your own judgment; and, if the necessity exists, that you assign some other general to the command of the army under General Crittenden, relieving him from his present duties and making such further orders in relation to him as in your judgment shall seem advisable for the good of the service.

Your obedient servant,

J. P. BENJAMIN,

Secretary of War.