It was telegraphed back to Secretary that this dispatch, as transmitted, was unintelligible; that General Marshall was then in this city, and that it was in contemplation to give him orders for an expedition into Kentucky. In reply to that, the Secretary of War sent the following dispatch:
RICHMOND, March 4, 1863.
I have telegraphed to General H. Marshall to ascertain if he can furnish a force to re-enforce General Bragg, and if he would to lead it. I do not intend to interfere with any movement you have ordered.
J. A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.
[D. S. DONELSON.]
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF EAST TENNESSEE,
Knoxville, March 4, 1863.
Colonel B. S. EWELL,
I send you a report of the command, together with the original report of General Marshall. You will see from these reports the condition and location of the different detachments, which, imperfect as it is, with most extraordinary exertion to have it made out for one month correctly, shows for itself. Further comment is unnecessary.
In this connection, I would say that I have no confidence in an expedition headed by Brigadier-General Marshall. My inspector-general has just returned from a thorough inspection and examination of my troops. He reports that Marshall's command is in a most deplorable condition, undisciplined and scattered, as will be guessed at from the fact that no report can be had from him; and I give it as my opinion that it would be better, if it can be effected, that, as it has been intimated in a dispatch from the War Department, General Marshall and his command be ordered to report to General Bragg, provided an equal or even less number of forces be given me to supply his place. Owing to the very nature of the department, with an extended line to defend, the command must necessarily be so divided as to prevent that vigilance so necessary to proper military discipline and management; otherwise I would not ask that he be transferred, nor do I admit, if I was so favored, but that I could manage him and his command properly.
I would state further that General [W. G. M.] Davis is still absent at Richmond. His command, as you must know, is necessarily in a scattered and bad condition, and his brigade suffering for the want of a commander.
There are three legions in the department, and I would respectfully ask that they be organized into regiments and brigaded. In their present condition they are inefficient, and scattered in various parts of the department.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
D. S. DONELSON,
HEADQUARTERS POLK'S CORPS, ARMY OF TENNESSEE,
Shelbyville, March 6, 1863.
General BRAXTON BRAGG:
GENERAL: Your inspector-general of the army, under your instructions, inspected the condition of the cavalry and established them at