TULLAHOMA, February 3, 1863.
Your telegram, ordering me to General Bragg's headquarters, was received in Mobile, when I was on my way to them. Your letter of January 22 reached me here on the 30th. I have spoken to General Bragg, Lieutenant-Generals Polk and Hardee, and Governor Harris on the subject of your letter. The first is aware of the existence of such a feeling as you apprehend, but regards it as factious, and thinks that it is passing away. The lieutenant-generals have the feeling, but evidently derive it mainly from the Kentucky campaign. General Polk can give me no information as to the feeling among the other general officers of his corps, having been absent for some weeks. General Hardee says those of his corps want confidence, and have so expressed themselves in writing to General Bragg.
General Bragg's letter, to which you refer, was understood by the general officers of Hardee's corps to ask for an expression of opinion as to his competence, but not by those of Polk's.
Governor Harris, with whom the general officers converse more freely probably than with their military superiors, thinks that they want confidence in their commanders, but that it is due to the Kentucky campaign, and thinks it is declining. He thinks it is not such an evil as would result from the removal of General Bragg.
Major-General Cheatham, of Polk's corps, a Tennesseean, expressed himself to the Governor to the effect that he would never go into battle under General Bragg again. He is confident, however, that he can control that officer and bring him to his senses.
My principal object has been to ascertain the feeling existing in the regiments, being confident if the soldiers are not depressed we can have nothing to fear, for it is not to be supposed that the zeal of general officers can be impaired by any want of confidence in their general's skill.
Incessant rain has permitted me to see but a fourth of the troops as yet. They are represented by their field officers to be in high spirits, and as ready as ever for fight.
I am very glad to find that your confidence in General Bragg is unshaken. My own is confirmed by his recent operations, which, in my opinion, evince great vigor and skill. It would be very unfortunate to remove him at this juncture, when he has just earned, if not won, the gratitude of the country.
After seeing all the troops, I shall write again. I respectfully suggest that, should it then appear to you necessary to remove General Bragg, no one in this army or engaged in this investigation ought to be his successor.
Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. E. JOHNSTON,
HEADQUARTERS VOLUNTEER AND CONSCRIPT BUREAU, Columbia, February 3, 1863.
The enemy now occupy Franklin. It is said to be Jefferson C. Davis, about 8,000 or 9,000 strong, and one regiment of cavalry, about 400 strong. The cavalry are 4 or 5 miles this side of Franklin, and the infantry are engaged rebuilding the bridge over Harpeth River, and are on the north side of the river. Our information is that they contemplate