or elsewhere (which I should consider as a first-class blunder), I feel confident that re-enforcement for Vicksburg have been drawn from Charleston, Savannah, and Mobile.
Suppose Bragg's army has become so weakened by withdrawing re-enforcements therefrom for other points, so that we could easily drive him back upon Atlanta, the moral and political effect upon the rebel army and people would be desponding to an almost incalculable extent, while a corresponding eclat and prestige would be given to our cause. Hence I am constrained to say I do not believe Bragg's army has been sufficiently diminished to warrant the conclusion that we can gain over it a successful and decisive battle at this time.
In reply to your question, I cannot conceive how an advance upon our part will prevent re-enforcements being sent from Bragg to other points, after what I have stated above. Under no circumstances do I believe that Bragg will be short-sighted enough to diminish his army, unless we first set the example by weakening ours. Then he could spare a portion of his force, retaining only sufficient to do what he is now doing, to hold us in check, retaining sufficient to give us battle, in case we seek, with every probability of success, as it must be in his chosen position, he evidently having no intention of attacking us in ours.
In reply to your third question, I must say that I do not deem an immediate advance of our army judicious, for the following reasons:
1st. I believe the enemy are in quite equal, if not superior, force to ourselves, and to risk a battle under those circumstances is too hazardous just at this time.
2nd. Should we drive him back, say 40 miles, it is extremely doubtful in my mind, whether we could keep our communications open with the limited supply of cavalry we have, as compared with theirs.
3rd. I deem it all-important to keep this army compact, intact, and well in hand until the important struggle now going on at Vicksburg is decided. If Grant is unsuccessful, it must prove the ruin of his army, and ours is all that remain for the defense of the defense of the great Southwest; but if Grant is successful, the moral and political effect, not only upon the two contending parties, but with foregone powers, must prove the turning point of the rebellion.
4th. One strong military reason more why it is not advisable to advance is that we have no reserve; none, especially since the withdrawal of Burnside's reliable troops. Under every contingency you should have a reserve of 25,000 or 30,000 well organized and disciplined troops to follow up our successes, or to fall back upon in case of repulse or defeat. The great mistake, in my opinion, has been that Burnside's troops were not immediately united with yours on our present front of operations, instead of being lost and rendered useless in the Cumberland Mountains.
5th. With Hooker already defeated, Grant defeated or forced to raise the siege of Vicksburg, and ourselves even repulsed, I can see no hope except the recognition of the independence of the Confederacy by foreign powers, and also by ourselves. It is much wiser for us to hold on and keep the offensive, although we may not be gaining ground as rapidly as might be expected by politicians and other novices in the art of war. The contract we have taken is the most gigantic and important on record, and you are now holding the central and key point, not only of the grand battle-field, but of the hopes and anxieties of the nation. The safe, sure system is the only one that can succeed in