drawn from the same counties, I suggested in my last letter that it would be as well to allow such enlistments as had already been made into companies of Floyd's brigade to stand until you should find that the residue of the militia would not suffice to fill your own command. In that event I intended you to understand that you were to use those who had enlisted in other companies to such an extent as might be necessary to complete you own. My object was not to interfere with filling up your companies, but only to suggest such a selection of the men with which you should complete them as would leave in the residue of the militia those who had already enlisted in other companies. If this cannot be done, you are to fill up your command regardless of enlistments into others.
You will bear in mind that under the new law field officers of Virginia regiments are to be elected by the company officer and the latter by the men.
With regard to the declaration of martial law in your district, the President wrote to you on the 13th March that if you deemed it necessary he would proclaim martial law in such counties as you might designate. He does not think it advisable to establish it in districts, but only in certain designated counties. I have not received any letter from you naming the counties in which you desired it to be proclaimed, except your last communication.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
ATLANTA, May 1, 1862.
Honorable GEORGE W. RANDOLPH:
The State has placed all her means of defense in the hands of the President. The enemy are near Chattanooga. If it is taken, the railroad bridges on both sides of it burned, we are cut off from the coal mines, and all our iron miles are stopped. We are soon to be driven out of Tennessee, it seems, and both armies fed on what little provision is left in the cotton regions. It cannot last long. Our wheat crop is ruined with rust, and all our young men not now under arms called from their fields under the conscription act, when you have not arms for them. If this policy is to be continued, hunger will at no distant, day produce its natural result. Might not an army of 50,000 men, under a bold leader, marched from Chattanooga on Nashville and Louisville, transfer their armies and their operations to the rich fields and large provision supplies of Kentucky? If so, it would be worth more than all our operations against gunboats on the coast. Excuse me if I intrude. I express but the universal sentiments of our people when I say that the defensive policy of fortifying and falling back toward the center will, if persisted in, end in starvation and overthrow.
Let me beg you to send heavy re-enforcements to Chattanooga without delay. When Georgia has sent so many troops to the field, it is injury to leave her vital points exposed with no adequate protection. The President has her men and her guns, and she looks to him. I remain here to-morrow.
JOSEPH E. BROWN.