a conclusion I can, neither from personal estimation nor public considerations, for a moment admit.
My own judgment, but for scruples on your part, the delicacy of which I appreciate while I must question their justice, would be clear, that you should at once take command of the largest army (that of General Bragg), most likely soon to be engaged in momentous contest in the field, most congenial to your military tastes (for I take it, like the Black Douglas, you would "prefer to hear the lark sing to the mouse squeak"), and them, if you have delicacy about displacing General Bragg, avail yourself of his efficient capacities as an organizer and disciplinarian. I am sure this is what both the country and the Executive desire from you, and really in this vital struggle all considerations of scrupulous delicacy and generosity should, in my humble opinion, be disregarded to assume the position of greatest usefulness and effort.
If General Bragg, as, frankly, I would prefer, were recalled altogether, your embarrassment in assuming his place would be greater than in merely assuming what all acknowledge so cheerfully to be your due, the supreme command. Let me urge you, my dear general, to think well, in view of all the great interests to our beloved South involved in the decision, on this line of action, and, if possible, make the sacrifice of your honorable delicacy to the importance of the occasion and the greatness of our cause. I will endeavor to do meantime what I can to lessen any sense of embarrassment on your part, by trying to collect re-enforcements from East Tennessee and West Virginia to be thrown to your aid, and thus measurably give the character of a combined army to your command. Let me, however, entreat you not to await such result, which I may not be able to accomplish in time, but at once to assume the command. In your generous appreciation of brother officer, who very possibly may have been harshly judged, you certainly do not realize the popular dissatisfaction at Bragg's commanding, nor the distrust and discontent unfortunately pervading all ranks of the army toward him. Neither officers nor men can be relied on to do their full duty, I fear, under him, while your mere presence, apart from the superior ability you bring to bear, will inspire redoubled hope and valor.
Excuse me for being thus urgent, and attribute it to my own deep convictions of the crisis, and my confidence in the pilot who, I believe, can "weather the storm."
With high esteem, most cordially yours,
J. A. SEDDON.
CHATTANOOGA, March 3, 1863.
DEAR GENERAL: I thank you much for your letter of the 25th and 27th, which was received yesterday and read with great attention. The information you give and the suggestions you make are very important and valuable.
I have suggested to the Secretary of War, by telegraph, that our troops who were opposed in Virginia to those of Cox and Sigel should follow their movement and join General Bragg's army. It is to be apprehended, however, that the Government does not appreciate the importance to us of holding Tennessee, and does not understand that to abandon the country beyond the Cumberland Mountains is to give up East Tennessee.