GENERAL: I am in receipt of yours of the 30th, in reply to mine of the same date. In it you say designed your circular should contain but one point of inquiry, and that was whether your corps and division commanders would give you for future reference a statement of what transpired between us in regard to the retreat from Murfreesborough. I have, therefore, now to say the opinions and counsel which I gave you on that subject prior to the retreat are those that are embodied in my indorsement of the note of my division commanders (Generals Cheatham and Withers) of January 3,* which are in your possession, and I have to add that they were deliberately considered, and are such as I would give again under the same circumstances.
Respectfully, your servant,
SHELBYVILLE, TENN., March 21, 1863.
Commanding Corps, Army of Tennessee:
GENERAL: To-day for the first we feel assured of a verbal mistake having been committed in the note addressed by us through you to the general commanding, bearing date "Headquarters in the Field, Murfreesborough, Tenn., January 3, 1863-12.15 a.m."# The Second sentence, beginning "You have but three brigades", should have been You have but three divisions, &c., We make this correction simply to place ourselves right, not that we consider the mistake of writing brigades when we purposed and believed we had written divisions either did or should have altered the determination at last arrived [reached?].
Will you, general, do us the justice to transmit this explanation to the general commanding, and oblige, very respectfully, &c.,
B. F. CHEATHAM,
Major-General, C. S. Army.
J. M. WITHERS,
TULLAHOMA, TENN., April 2, 1863.
Lieutenant General LEONIDAS POLK,
GENERAL: I have your letter of the 31st ultimo, and thank you for the explanations you give me. I never supposed that you intended the construction to be placed on that part of your report which I feared might be.
Still, I apprehend that many persons, not reading critically, may infer that I was responsible for the failure to gain a complete victory, since it is stated that four of my brigades were ordered to report to you; that they came in detachments of two each, at long intervals, and too late to accomplish the result, which would have been the utter rout of the enemy if they had arrived in time.
Many may say, since I was ordered to report four brigades to you, how did it happen that they came in two detachments, the first two
*See Indorsement No. 1, p. 700.
#See Inclosure No. 2., p.700.