Should Rosecrans make the movement you suggest, we must choose between falling back, which, I think, would be next to ruin, and taking advantage of the best opportunity his division of forces might give to assume the offensive. It would be a very difficult matter to sustain our army on this side of the mountains; our cavalry horses could not be fed. Indeed, it would be very difficult to find forage for those of the artillery and trains. After getting here, we should be of very little use. To defend a long valley from an enemy approaching from the side, seems to me impracticable. The difficulty of subsisting our army in it would, fortunately, be felt by the enemy, too. It would not be practicable, I think, for him to move into Virginia; he could not transport food. He could hold East Tennessee, however, after getting possession of the country. What use, then, would he make of the large army now in Middle Tennessee-move into Georgia, or cross the Tennessee and co-operate with Grant in Mississippi? The Tennessee would enable him to feed his troops in Mississippi, but he could not depend upon the long line of railroad between Nashville and Atlanta. The immediate matter, however, is to prevent his advance. Is there any route by which he can strike the river between Chattanooga and Kingston? Can he reach Jasper from McMinnville, while we occupy Tullahoma? Can he, without the help of the railroad, reach Huntsville and Stevenson? Ought not Van Dorn to be able to prevent him? Will it not require some time, for good weather even, to make the country practicable for moving armies? How long shall we be able to find forage within reach of Shelbyville?
We hear of no change in the enemy's course in Mississippi of late. He is reported to be still at work opposite Vicksburg, as well as in the Yazoo Pass. He has evidently relinquished the idea of crossing the Rappahannock. This probably diminishes his active force in Virginia. When their army is removed from Northern Virginia, a larger force will be thought necessary for the protection of Washington.
Very truly, yours,
J. E. JOHNSTON.
CIRCULAR.] HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF TENNESSEE,
Tullahoma, March 3, 1863.
Hereafter no recruits or conscripts will be allowed to attach themselves to a cavalry command.
By command of General Bragg:
WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A.,
Richmond, Va., March 3, 1863.
General HUMPHREY MARSHALL,
Abingdon, Va. (To be forwarded.)
I sent two days ago a telegram, asking if you could organize a force, and what, to re-enforce General Bragg, and if you would like to lead it? Please reply?
J. A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.
*Reply not found, but see Cooper to Donelson, March 17, p. 705.