So far as these opinions can be stated in tabular form, they will stand thus:
Answer to first question.. 6 11
Answer to second question.. 2 11
Answer to third question.. 4 10
Answer to fourth question.. 0 15
Answer to fifth question.. 0 2
On the fifth question, three gave it as their opinion that this army ought to advance as soon as Vicksburg falls, should that event happen.
The following is a summary of the reasons assigned why we should not at this time advance upon the enemy:
1. With Hooker's army defeated, and Grant's bending all its energies in a yet undecided struggle, it is bad policy to risk, our only reserve army to the chances of a general engagement. A failure here would have most disastrous effects on our lines of communication and on politics in the loyal States.
2. We should be compelled to fight the enemy on his own ground or follow him in a fruitless stern chase; or, if we attempted to outflank him and turn his position, we should expose our lines of communication, and run the risk of being pushed back into a rough country, well known to the enemy and little known to ourselves.
3. In case the enemy should fall back without accepting battle, he could make our advance very slow, and with a comparatively small force posted in the gaps of the mountains could hold us back while he crossed the Tennessee River, where he would be measurably secure, and free to send re-enforcements to Johnston. His forces in East Tennessee could seriously harass our left flank, and constantly disturb our communications.
4. The withdrawal of Burnside's Ninth Army Corps deprives us of an important reserve and flank protection, thus increasing the difficulty of an advance.
5. General Hurbult has sent the most of his forces away to General Grant, thus leaving West Tennessee uncovered, and laying our right flank and rear open to raids of the enemy.
The following incidental opinions are expressed:
1st. One officers thinks it probable that the enemy has been strengthened rather than weakened, and that he would have a reasonable prospect of victory in a general battle.
2nd. One officer believes the result of a general battle would be doubtful, a victory barren, and a defeat most disastrous.
3rd. Three officers believe that an advance would bring on a general engagement; three believe it would not.
4th. Two officers express the opinion that the chances of success in a general battle are nearly equal.
5th. One officer expresses the belief that our army has reached its maximum strength and efficiency, and that inactivity will seriously impair its effectiveness.
6th. Two officers say that an increase of our cavalry by about 6,000 men would materially change the ascept of our affairs, and give us a decided advantage.
In addition to the above summary, I have the honor to submit an estimate of the strength of Bragg's army, gathered from all the data I have been able to obtain, including the estimate of the general commanding