and in this connection I may say that Captain Gholson proposes, with your concurrence, to raise a battalion of sharpshooters for service with the Army of the West. I hope that you will give him your assistance in this work. The necessity of immediate action must be my apology for again addressing Your Excellency upon this subject without awaiting your reply to my preceding communication.
I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect, your obedient servant,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF THE TENNESSEE, Tupelo, Miss., July 31, 1862.
Major General EARL VAN DORN,
Commanding District of the Mississippi, Vicksburg, Miss.:
GENERAL: Official dispatches from General Armstrong and the reports of scouts and others all confirm the fact that General Halleck's army is being rapidly transferred eastward, and that Buell's, Thomas', and Rosecrans' divisions have already passed Tuscumbia, Rosecrans passing Tuscumbia on Saturday. I do not think that General Grant, who remains in command at Corinth, can have more than 15,000 troops there, though Colonel Wheeler, commanding a cavalry brigade in North Mississippi, reports that the enemy have recently concentrated about 10,000 at Bolivar. This must, however, be an overestimate. It at all events seems to me unquestionable that they must, in order to meet General Bragg, continue to move troops eastward, and that they cannot leave more than 20,000 under General Grant. This will be our opportunity, and I am extremely anxious that we shall avail ourselves of it. I therefore send a gentleman to Governor Pettus to ask his co-operation, and another, Dr. Luke P. Blackburn, volunteer aide-de-camp, to you to submit the matter to your consideration. It is my opinion that, if we will advance our armies rapidly and concurrently toward Grand Junction or some other point on or near the Tennessee line at the same time obstructing the railroads, we can move irresistibly through Western or Central Tennessee into Kentucky. The enemy can only confront us by weakening the army opposed to General Bragg. The result will be the same in either case-a victory to the Confederate arms either through our forces or through those under the immediate command of General Bragg. It seems to me that in view of the great results that would flow from the reoccupation of Tennessee we ought not to hesitate to endanger every minor one; that the true way, in other words, of completing the work of regaining complete possession of the Mississippi, which you have so gloriously begun at Vicksburg, is to advance with our armies into Kentucky. I can put 15,000 effective men in the field. I am getting them in readiness for instant service. I will gladly place them under your command if you will co-operate with me in the proposed movement, and be proud to serve under the defender of Vicksburg. The Governor of Mississippi can surely increase our forces several thousand, and can garrison the posts and continue the defense of Vicksburg with the State Militia.
I am, general, with the greatest respect, your obedient servant,