of the war the scene of almost constant guerrilla warfare, there is less in the way of subsistence for man or horse than is to be bad in other and not more productive sections. From Columbia to Cumberland Gap it would be impossible to maintain any large force, as everything would have to be hauled, even to forage, over roads represented as utterly impassable in wet weather. I am satisfied that operations cannot be carried on in that direction at this season. Any use made of this force, numbering some 13,000 effectives, other than as a guard to the bluegrass region, must be by some other route; and I know of no practicable one,except farther west toward Nashville, which would amount to joining the force under General Rosecrans.
In the western district of Kentucky, where there are some 12,000 effective men, the force, while keeping down marauding bands, has for its chief mission the protection of the railroad to Nashville, which constitutes the main, and, indeed, only line of communication of Rosecrans' army. His success, and, indeed, his very existence, depends on its being kept open without it, his army would be forced to retreat or starve. When the Cumberland rises sufficiently to permit uninterrupted navigation to Nashville, it will be less important, till then it must be kept up,and the present force is none too large for that object.
Briefly, then, neither the force in Eastern nor Western Kentucky can be safely diminished at this time. That in Central Kentucky, amounting to 13,000 effectives, might be,at the expense of probable cavalry raids into the very heart of the State. A little later, when the Cumberland rises, one of the two divisions now there may be sent elsewhere without much risk; then the roads will be nearly impassable for any considerable force.
The political condition of the State must be taken largely into account in the determination of the force to be kept within her borders. Everything is quiet now, but it needs the presence of troops to keep it so. The rebels remaining in the State are not fighting men, but they would secretly and effectively aid the rebel cause, if not kept under by than hand of power.
Notwithstanding all this, I should favor, even at this time, the withdrawal of at least a division, and adding it to General Rosecrans' force, if he needs it. I am perfectly aware that this distribution of force is not the way to make active war, and it would be better to run the smaller risk of having the State again overrun by a predatory force than for General Rosecrans to advance against the enemy's masses with inadequate numbers. He has not, however, suggested to me that his force was too small. On the contrary, I have always supposed he had men enough.
I referred, in my dispatch this morning, to an expedition which was about starting out. For some time I have been studying the practicability of a raid into the enemy's country, and have carefully collected all the information to be obtained, and have come to the conclusion that it was practicable to send a mounted force into East Tennessee, and cut the line of railroad at several points. The trouble has been to obtain any reliable force; but, by changing the location of the cavalry, and replacing that withdrawn by new troops, I have collected about 1,200 cavalry, which can be relied upon for good service. This I have placed under the command of Brigadier General S. P. Carter, assisted by the best officers I have, and have instructed him to proceed, by various routes, to Manchester, where they unite, and thence, crossing the mountains by the Mount Pleasant route, to fall upon the line of railroad between Union and Knoxville. I see no reason to doubt of his burning the bridges at