HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE OHIO,
Cincinnati, Ohio, March 4, 1863.
Gov. J. F. ROBINSON, Frankfort, Ky.:
DEAR SIR: Your letter of the 1st instant has been received, and I am much obliged for the expression of opinion presented therein regarding the condition of Kentucky, and the necessity for further forces within her limits in order to secure the State against the invasion of the rebel forces.
As I believe I have already told you, the force in Kentucky has been reduced, in obedience to orders, and though this reduction is in consonance with my own views of the propriety of sending troops to the points where they can operate actively against the enemy, it has been made upon the supposition that the armies in advance would cover Kentucky from anything but minor raids. If this be not accomplished, the forces within the limits of your State are insufficient. If 15,000 men can come in without hinderance from the Federal forces in advance, as you seem to believe possible, then our force in Kentucky is inadequate to the protection of the State, and should be promptly re-enforced. I do not fully credit, however, the rumor of so large a body invading Kentucky is inadequate to the protection of the State, and should be promptly re-enforced. I do not fully credit, however, the rumor of so large a body invading Kentucky at so early a day. The roads and the almost impossibility of procuring subsistence for so large a force at this season are the reasons upon which this opinion is based. Later in the year, say in April or May, such an attempt would be practicable, but not now. Whether this reasoning be true or not, some additional provision must be made for the security of Kentucky as the season advances, or we shall be exposed to raids in greater or less force, which will occasion much annoyance to the military, which can seldom get a chance to fight them in their rapid and erratic movements, and to the loyal citizens of the State, who will suffer from their depredations; but I do not apprehend any invasion in force so long as General Rosecrans lies in front with his army. The rebels have not the men to spare for such a purpose. If they detach heavily, their main body will be liable to defeat by his superior numbers. If they send a smaller force, yet still not enough to create any great disparity in numbers, but yet too strong for the troops in Kentucky to meet, I shall call on General Rosecrans to aid us. It has entering the State is to be attended to by his army, and he will be able, doubtless, to redeem his pledge. So far, therefore, as any invasion of the State upon a formidable scale is concerned, I rest comparatively easy, first, because so long as the roads are in their present condition the thing is impracticable; second, when the condition of the country for travel has so far improved as to render such a movement and drive the enemy back still farther from the State border, or, failing his readiness to advance, he can furnish the additional force necessary to defeat the enemy's attempt.
I have always believed, and still remain in the conviction, that the battles for the real and effective defense of Kentucky should be fought in advance of her borders, and that General Rosecrans' army should be made strong enough to do the work, while only enough troops should be retained in the State for its protection against predatory incursions. As before remarked, the force in Kentucky has been regulated upon this principle, but the numbers have been decided upon as a minimum number for the inter. I had expected that this additional force would be obtained form that proposed to be raised for the defense of Kentucky,