hours after the time, and the other still an hour later, when their timely arrival would have changed the face of affairs?
It occurs to me that the inference will be unfavorable to my conduct, although not conclusive against me. Of course, you could not know when I received the orders, nor with what alacrity I obeyed them, except from my own report. All I could request would be the exclusion of an inference that, in obeying an order to report to you with four brigades, I had delayed two hours with half the force, and three hours with the remainder. The question, as it affects me personally, is not, did the brigades arrive too late for the opportune moment, but, is it inferable from the report that I was responsible for it. If an erroneous construction is placed on your report, it may work me great injury, since it will be read by many thousands through the Confederacy.
With the kindness and frankness which has always marked your intercourse with me, you say that if it had occurred to you that this construction might be put your language, you would have so shaped it as to make such an interpretation impossible, and that, if I think it of any importance to me, you will endeavor to have the correction made before your report is printed.
Under the circumstances that surround me, it will be grateful to my feelings if you can, in the way you deem best, exclude the construction to which I have referred.
Very truly, your friend,
JOHN C. BRECKINRIDGE.
HEADQUARTERS POLK'S CORPS, ARMY OF TENNESSEE,
June 15, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON, Secretary of War:
SIR: The reports of General Polk, of the battle of Shiloh, General Bragg, of Perryville, and Breckinridge, of Murfreesborough, have appeared in the public papers, it was understood, by permission of the War Department.
The large body of Tennessee troops serving under General Polk were anxious to see his report of the battles of Murfreesborough and Perryville, and as there was no reason to suppose the Government would object to granting permission for the publication of these reports, which has been accorded in the case of those of other general officers, and as many errors appeared in the copy of General Polk's report of Shiloh, I sent to the gentleman through whom these reports were being published in the Knoxville Register, its Richmond correspondent, "S. L.," a corrected copy of General Polk's report of the battle of Murfreesborough, and wrote him, under date of May 5, as follows:
I send you a carefully revised copy of General Polk's report of the battle of Murfreesborough. * * * * This report is sent you predicated on the supposition that its publication has been authorized, and that the Secretary of War will give you access to the originals in the Department. Should he, however, refuse, you will not, of course, use to report.
The publication not appearing, I asked Mr. B. B. Minor to call at the War Office and see if there was any objection to its publication. This he did, and I am this morning in receipt of a note from him saying:
I find objections are entertained to the publication of the reports of the battles of Perryville and Murfreesborough. It is now under advisement whether to publish them prior to and outside of the usual mode. No access will be allowed to them at present
In the mean time, since Mr. Minor left these headquarters for Richmond, the Knoxville Register, of the 6th, announced that it would, the