such additional information as I have derived from deserters. I feel quite confident that at least half of Breckinridge's and McCown's divisions have gone south, but am quite certain that Breckinridge's entire division did not go.
I also found my belief upon the natural probabilities of the case. We will allow Bragg what he states his force at the battle of Stone's River, 35,000; we know he had killed and Permanently disabled at least 10,000 men; say 10,000 have gone to Vicksburg, which i think about correct; this would reduce the original force to 15,000, requiring an augmentation of 15,000 men by conscription and all other sources to give him 30,000, or 20,000 men to give him the amount of force he had at Stone's River. This, it appears to me, allows very liberally for the operation of the conscription, and, all things being equal, we can defeat this force.
To interrogatory second, I believe an advance upon the enemy at this time would prevent their sending any more detachments from their force. My reasons: We know very well that, when the enemy finds it to their interest, they do not hesitate for a moment to give up any of their towns or territory; but one of the greatest difficulties the rebels have to contend with is their scarcity of provisions. The country between Duck river and the Tennessee equals in fertility any portion of the soil of the United States, and a most luxuriant crop of wheat is just now ripening in this country, and it is a matter of the highest importance to the rebels to secure this crop. Again, the main army is near enough to, in a measure, support their cavalry in their raids into Kentucky, which they know is a sore point with us, and an important thing to themselves in the way of horses and mules. Hence, I conclude the enemy will fight a battle at Duck River, for the purpose of covering the rich country behind them, with its grain and negroes, and to maintain a position which threatens Kentucky. If they determine to risk a battle, they will, as they have always, with good generalship, bring up every available man.
3rd. Is an immediate advance advisable?
I have reasoned that an advance would bring on a decisive battle. Battles must be fought for political or military reasons. Had Hooker succeeded upon the Rappahannock, there would have been no political reason for now fighting a battle. Should Grant Succeed at Vicksburg, there will be no reason of such nature for a battle. Should Grant fail, the necessity would, in my numbly view, be imperative. This question is, then, yet open, and must rest upon Grant's failure or success.
For the sake of brevity, I speak dogmatically. The battle of Stone's River saved the Northwest from falling under the domination of the peace or coward's party; and Hooker's failure has given the same party immense influence in New Your City and the East generally. Politically, then, a general advance should be postponed. In a military point of view, I believe a general advance is not advisable, but that well-planned maneuvers by corps, to engage the entire attention of the enemy, and to constantly harass him, is now the plan to follow, to engage the enemy's attention and prevent his sending forces to Vicksburg.
My reasons I give in brief: First, we have a line of railroad 220 miles long, connecting us with our true base, Louisville, every mile of which has to be garrisoned and guarded. as we advance, the garrisons and guards must be stronger, and I here call to mind that no force but cavalry can properly guard a railroad. The resources of the country gained would not compensate for the force necessary to guard and collect these resources. From the nature of our system, and the small force