No more troops can be taken from General Bragg without that danger of enabling Rosecrans to move into Virginia, or to re-enforce Grant. Our great object is to hold the Mississippi. The country beyond the river is as much interested in that object as this, and the loss to us of the Mississippi involves that of the country beyond it. The 8,000 or 10,000 men which are essential to safety ought, therefore, I respectfully suggest, to be taken from Arkansas, to return after the crisis in this department. I firmly believe, however, that our true system of warfare would be to concentrate the forces of the two department of this side of the Mississippi, beat the enemy here, and then reconquer the country beyond it, which he might have gained in the mean time. I respectfully as Your Excellency's attention to the accompanying letter* of Major-General Smith in relation to the inadequacy of the garrison of Vicksburg, begging you to take his estimate of the force needed, instead of mine, as his is based upon accurate calculation.#
Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. E. JOHNSTON,
HDQRS. HARDEE'S CORPS, ARMY OF TENN.,
Near Eagleville, Tenn., December 22, 1862.
* * * * * * *
II. Major-General Breckinridge will detail from his command a regiment, not less than 250 strong, to relieve Colonel Lowrey, Thirty-second Mississippi, in guarding the line of railroad between Normandy Station and Forsterville. The commanding officer of the regiment detailed for this duty will report at Wartrace to Colonel Lowrey, who will transfer his orders and instructions to him. Upon being relieved, Colonel Lowrey, with his regiment and the Third Confederate, will rejoin his brigade, near these headquarters.
By command of Lieutenant-General Hardee:
T. B. ROY,
Chief of Staff.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF TENNESSEE,
Murfreesborough, Tenn., December 23, 1862.
Brigadier General JOSEPH WHEELER,
Chief of Cavalry, La Vergne:
GENERAL: Your letter, with enclosures, is received. It was highly proper to return the communication to Rosecrans for correction. The error originated, as you presumed in the ambiguous date of Colonel Hawkins' statement. His amended statement makes the case stronger, and the letter has been rewritten, in accordance with the facts as given there. Ordinarily, flags will not be sent or received except on Mondays and Thursdays, between 12 m. and 4 p.m. Cases of urgent necessity will form the exceptions. The general desires to impress upon you the necessity of not permitting the unnecessary delay of either flag. When dispatches are delivered, the flag must retire, and not await answers from distant headquarters.
J. STODDARD JOHNSTON.
#Copy was referred by Mr. Davis to General Holmes. See Holmes to Johnston, December 29, 1862, Series, I, Vol. XXXII, Part I.