advisable. I conceive it to be of the utmost importance, as matters now stand, that this army should not advance until the result at Vicksburg is known. An "early" advance will be advisable or not depending upon the result at Vicksburg, and the force that may thus be made available to co-operate with us.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. J. REYNOLDS,
Major-General, Commanding Division.
HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, FOURTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Murfreesborough, June 9, 1863.
Lieutenant Colonel C. GODDARD,
COLONEL: Having conversed with General Thomas this morning concerning the information in his possession touching the position and force of the enemy in our front, I beg leave to submit this paper, in response to your note of last night, in lieu of the one than forwarded by me.
In answer to Question Numbers 1, I would say that the weight of evidence or information seems to me to leave it doubtful whether the enemy in our front are not now in numbers as strong as we. It is not settled definitely what re-enforcements, if any, have been detached from their army and sent as re-enforcements to other points. I am pretty well satisfied, in any and every view of the premises, that the force of the enemy in our front is not much inferior to our own, and it is just as probable that their force is as large as ours as that it is less. In either view, I am decidedly of the opinion that it would be bad policy to offer the enemy battle on ground chosen by himself, and in a position perhaps well fortified. A battle thus fought, against a force about equal to our own, with the advantages of a knowledge of the ground and of a chosen and fortified position, would offer small chance of success to us; in fact, the chances would be greatly against us. If repulsed and driven back, the disaster in every way would be a very great one, and it can hardly be anticipated where it would finally end.
Hooker has been lately defeated on the Rappahannock; Grant is not yet successful, and may entirely fail, so that a disaster here might find our three great armies defeated and demoralized. The effect in loyal States of the defeat of this army at this juncture would be disastrous in the extreme. If badly defeated and cut up, the enemy might go to Nashville and Clarksville, and take possession of Kentucky, &c. But suppose we succeed in such a battle, it must be at a great sacrifice, and it would certainly leave our army in a very crippled condition. In all probability it would be a bootless victory, because we could not follow it up. I think we have had enough battles without decisive results, and I am firmly of the belief that we cannot fight a great and decisive battle with the enemy now in our front "with strong and reasonable chances of success." Unless we could reasonably hope to defeat and break up the army in our front, we would gain little by fighting a battle now, for a battle resulting simply in the falling back of the enemy, after having punished us as much as we did him, would do us more harm than good. Although it would give us the country occupied by the enemy, it would greatly extend and expose our line of communications, and necessarily weaken our army to protect it.
In answer to Question Numbers 2, I would say that I do not see how an advance of our army at present would prevent additional re-enforcements