subject of an nearly or immediate advance of this army, and asking for my reasons of said opinion, I have the honor to report:
I do not think the enemy in our front "has been materially weakened by detachments to Johnston or elsewhere, " and I do not think that this army can advance on them at this time with any "reasonable chance of fighting a great and successful battle." My reasons for these opinions are based on such information as I have been enabled to collect from scouts and spies, sent from my command, and such information as has been imparted to me by other commanders in this army, making it doubtful even if the enemy have recently increased rather than diminished their force, and upon my knowledge of the country, which offers many strong defensive positions to the enemy, and roads by which they could withdraw in the event of their defeat, covering their retreat effectually with a very small force against the pursuit of any army.
If my information is correct, and the enemy are, as I believe, strong enough to fight us, with reasonable prospects of success, I think our advance would prevent them from sending detachments anywhere before an engagement, and for obvious reasons.
I do not think an immediate advance of our army advisable, because the issue of a battle would be very uncertain. We would risk much in the event of a defeat, and a victory would probably only once more prove the valor of the army. The same objections apply with equal force to an early advance, unless some important change should occur in our condition or that of the enemy.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
T. L. CRITTENDEN,
HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES FORCES,
Triune, Tenn., June 9, 1863.
Major General W. S. ROSECRANS,
Commanding Army of the Cumberland, Murfreesborough, Tenn.:
GENERAL: In reply to the first interrogatory of your communication of yesterday, I have the honor to state that I have for the past three months, carefully observed the enemy in our front, for the purpose of keeping myself al all times advised as to their numbers, positions, designs, and movements. From the best and most reliable information I have been able to collect during that period, and also from the information gleaned by other commanders, which I have compared with my own, I am led to the conclusion that Bragg;s army remains still in our front, and intact, and that no material withdrawal of troops therefrom has taken place. The strategic importance of the position now held by Bragg renders it necessary for him to keep in your front a force sufficiently strong not only to hold you in check, but always to cope successfully with our forces in a pitched battle. The weakening of his force so as to render it possible for us to overthrow him and drive him beyond the Tennessee River, at once opens the whole of Tennessee and Northern Alabama, renders Kentucky safe, enabling us to draw our forces from there; puts in jeopardy the Chattanooga and Lynchburg Railway, and places in our possession the Charleston and Memphis Railway,again uniting us with Corinth and Memphis, and placing in our control all of the navigable portions of the Tennessee River.
Instead of re-enforcements having been sent from our front to Johnston