[Inclosure Numbers 2.]
HEADQUARTERS IN THE FIELD, Murfreesborough, Tenn., January 3, 1863-12.15 a. m.
General BRAGG, Commanding, &c.:
GENERAL: We deem it our duty to say to you frankly that, in our judgment, this army should be promptly put in retreat. You have but three brigades [divisions*] that are at all reliable, and even some of these are more or less demoralized from having some brigade commanders who do not possess the confidence of their commands. Such is our opinion, and we deem it a solemn duty to express to it you. We do fear great disaster from the condition of things now existing, and think it should be averted if possible.
Very respectfully, general, your obedient servant,
B. F. CHEATHAM,
Major-General, C. S. Army.
J. M. WITHERS,
[Indorsement Numbers 1.]
JANUARY 3, 1863-1.30 a. m.
MY DEAR GENERAL: I send you the inclosed paper, as requested, and I am compelled to add that after seeing the effect of the operations of to-day, added to that produced upon the troops by the battle of the 31st, I very greatly fear the consequences of another engagement at this place in the ensuing day. We could now, perhaps, get off with some safety and some credit, if the affair is well managed. Should we fail in the meditated attack, the consequences might be very disastrous.
Hoping you may be guided aright in whatever determination you may reach, I am, very truly, yours,
[Indorsement Numbers 2.]
I gave the inclosed note, with the above indorsement on it, to General Bragg in his bed at 2 a. m. After reading one-half of it, he said, "Say to the general we shall maintain our position at every hazard."
W. B. RICHMOND,
[Inclosure Numbers 3.]
HEADQUARTERS POLK'S CORPS, Murfreesborough, Tenn., January 3, 1863-3 a. m.
Commanding Hardee's Corps:
MY DEAR GENERAL: After due reflection, I deemed it my duty to make the following indorsement [Numbers 1] upon the accompanying note, signed jointly by two division commanders, Major-Generals Cheatham and Withers, and addressed to General Bragg. I have sent the note and indorsement to General Bragg by a staff officer, who I instructed to await any reply the general might be pleased to make. After reading them, his reply was, "The position will be maintained at all hazards." I think the decision of the general unwise, and, am compelled to add, in a high degree. I shall, of course, obey his orders and endeavor to do my duty. I think it due to you to let you know the views of myself and
*See Cheatham and Withers to Polk, March 21, 1863, p. 702.