ABINGDON, VA., November 3, 1862.
Honorable GEORGE W. RANDOLPH:
I arrived here this morning. Your dispatches received. Infantry force does not exceed 2,500. My twelve-months' mounted men, having served their time, want to be disorganized. What shall be done in this case? Shall I send or take my force to Echols? As I rank him you may have a choice.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT Numbers 2, Knoxville, Tenn., November 3, 1862.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: Since my arrival at these headquarters, I am hourly more and more impressed with the difficulties of my position, as slightly indicated to you in a memorandum note left on your desk.
There is in my geographical department no ordnance depot, and no suitable place to establish one, for the repair of arms or manufacturing of important and necessary stores; and, if any existed, I am hemmed in on both sides, so as to exclude me from access, except through the department of another. I am, for the present, intruding on General Beauregard, in Georgia, and Lieutenant-General Smith, at Chattanooga, for these necessary works.
My depots of commissary and quartermaster stores, as a base from which to operate, are in the geographical department of Lieutenant-General Smith, from whom I expect no difficulty; not so, however, with his staff officers. Constant conflicts are arising, and my authority is set at defiance. I am obliged to yield, and ask for what I ought to order. To any one acquainted with the great importance of unity and promptness in military duty, these difficulties will appear most serious. To me they seem to imperil the safety of any command.
The force which I shall be enabled to carry to Middle Tennessee from the Army of the Mississippi (30,000 men) will be inadequate. Having been unable to see Lieutenant-General Smith, I cannot say how far he will co-operate with me, but I submit whether movements involving so much should be left to the uncertainly of two officers agreeing in their views, however much the Government may confide in them or they in each other. On this point please confer freely with Lieutenant-General Polk.
Another point of great concern, and which is second to no other, oppresses me much. Our armies here are gradually, but certainly, melting away, whilst we are getting no re-enforcements, no recruits, and cannot see a source from which they are to come. Some of my regiments are down to 100 privates for duty. For seven months the conscript act has been the law, but as yet I have to receive the first man in this army. Where and how are we to obtain men? This is to me the most serious question to be solved. Next spring the enemy will be able to bring against us an army vastly superior to any he has yet operated with. We shall be less able to meet him than ever before, unless active measures are immediately put in operation to collect our men and put them in shape. For the first time in the war have we had to complain of a want of men to handle our arms. We have now a large surplus.
No reply was given me in Richmond in regard to the reception of the