HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, Murfreesborough, January 10, 1863.
Brigadier General D. S. STANLEY, Chief of Cavalry:
GENERAL: The general commanding instructs me to say that there is good reason to believe that General Wheeler, with about 1,000 cavalry, has left Shelbyville for the purpose of coming in and cutting the railroad.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, January 10, 1863.
Major General H. W. HALLECK, General-in-Chief:
SIR: I have attempted long and in vain to call the attention of the military gentlemen to the vital importance of occupying East Tennessee. Both by writing and verbally I have repeated again and again my views on this subject. How much attention I have received you have some opportunity to know.
The recent affair of General Carter, which you characterize as "without a parallel in the history of the war," had its origin, as I have reason to believe, with East Tennesseeans, and was barely sanctioned, not approved, by the officers in command, and wholly unknown at headquarters here, until rumors were received of its results. It is only what they have been begging for permission to do for more than a year, and what, if permitted, they would have done months ago, even when they were attached to the Department of the Mississippi.
To show how our enemies regard this region, I take the liberty to inclose, and beg permission to call your attention to, an extract from a late number of the Richmond Dispatch.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
General Bragg has certainly retreated to Shelbyville, 30 miles from his victory at Murfreesborough, as he did last fall from his victory at Perryville. On this occasion he has saved his prisoners, captured guns, stores, &c. But if he has retired (that is the fashionable phrase on our side, as a "change of base" is on the other) to Shelbyville with his whole army, he has thrown East Tennessee entirely open to the Yankees. There is a very strong position beginning with Shelbyville on the left, extending across the railroad running from Nashville to Chattanooga, at or near its junction with the Shelbyville road, with its center at a place called Decherd's, and its right terminating in the Cumberland Mountains, the whole distance being 25 miles from left to right, which, we understand, military men thought last summer ought to be the place to defend East Tennessee. It may be that Bragg has fallen back to this position. If he has, all is right. But if he has merely gotten out of the way, with the design to go to re-enforce the army facing Grant, which is 300 miles off, then East Tennessee is in great danger, if Rosecrans wishes to take it. If he should once get possession of it, 200,000 men cannot dislodge him. And East Tennessee is precisely the very portion of the Confederacy which it is most inconvenient for us to lose, since it cuts it completely in two.*
*Italics indicate portion underscored by Mr. Maynard.