I have not desired to mount them until spring, on account of the scarcity of forage. In Miller's company of 40, only a few have horses.
The Virginia mountain line, from the extreme eastern picket thrown out from Cumberland Gap to the eastern terminus of the Department of East Tennessee, is at least 175 miles long. You see within the only force protecting it.
RICHMOND, VA., February 19, 1863.
JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON,
General, C. S. Army:
GENERAL: Yours of the 3rd and 12th have been received and considered.
I regret that the confidence of the superior officers in General Bragg's fitness for command has been so much impaired. It is scarcely possible, in that state of the case, for him to possess the requisite confidence of the troops. However truly it may be desired by them, their distrust cannot be concealed. Staff officers will reflect the opinions and feelings of their chief, and gradually the impression must be communicated to the whole army. I am truly gratified at the language of commendation which you employ in relation to General Bragg, and at the cheering account you give of the condition and increasing strength of the Army of Tennessee. When I visited the army, there was no visible sign of discontent with the commander, and I had hoped that the dissatisfaction created by the events of the Kentucky campaign had given way before calm review of all that had occurred. It is not given to all men of ability to excite enthusiasm and to win affection of their troops, and it is only the few who are thus endowed who can overcome the distrust and alienation of their principal officers. No one more readily than General Bragg would surrender a desirable position to promote the public interest, and I have not feared any hesitation on his part, if he should find that he could better serve his country by a change of position. With the confidence I feel in his ability and zeal, you will readily understand the difficulty I find in the question of substitution. You limit the selection to a new man, and, in terms very embarrassing to me, object to being yourself the immediate commander. I had felt the importance of keeping you free to pass from army to army in your department, so as to be present wherever most needed, and to command in person wherever present. When you went to Tullahoma, I considered your arrival placed you for as long a period as you should remain there in the immediate command of that army, and that your judgment would determine the duration of your stay. You have borne no part in the investigation of the statements made in relation to the command of General Bragg other than that which seems to me appropriate to your position of commanding general of all the forces of the department. The removal of General Bragg would only affect you in so far as it deprived you of his services, and might restrain your freedom of movement by requiring more of your attention to that army. Therefore, I do not think that your personal honor is involved, as you could have nothing to gain by the removal of General Bragg. You shall not be urged by me to any course which would wound your sensibility or views of professional propriety, though you will perceive how small is the field of selection if a new man is to be sought whose rank is superior to that of the lieutenant-generals now in Tennessee. I will expect to hear further from you on this subject.