At Mobile, in Mississippi, and in Middle Tennessee we cannot foresee attack long enough beforehand to be able to re-enforce the threatened army from either of the others. At the first two the enemy's appearance may, and probably would, be the first indication of his intention to attack. In Middle Tennessee, after he begins to advance. his march may be so delayed as to give us three or four days, but in that time troops could only be drawn from East Tennessee, and that department could not furnish more than a small force. The transportation of 8,000 or 10,000 infantry (without their wagons) from Jackson to Tullahoma would require more than three weeks; the wagons and horses would require five. I think, therefore, it is not practicable to strengthen this army by drawing to it, for "temporary use," a portion of the troops of Mississippi or Mobile. At the latter, besides the garrisons of the forts and batteries for water defense, General Buckner has but 3,000 infantry to hold the land side.
Before receiving your telegram, I had instructed Brigadier-General Donelson to change the arrangement of his troops-to send his cavalry into Kentucky, where they could not only be easily subsisted, but might collect cattle for the army, and be in position to learn the enemy's intentions and report them, and to collect at two or three points near the railroad the portion of his infantry not employed in guarding bridges or keeping the disloyal in subjection, the points to be selected with reference to movement into Middle Tennessee or toward the gaps in the Cumberland Mountains. General Donelson has not reported the strength of these reserves; his returns show, however, that they must be inconsiderable. They will furnish the only re-enforcements which I know how to obtain for this army from the other departments of my command for any "temporary use."
Thinking that East Tennessee could not furnish an infantry force strong enough for such an expedition, I determined to send only cavalry into Kentucky. I received yesterday a copy of a letter from General Cooper to General Donelson, dated March 17, directing him to send Brigadier-General Marshall with his whole brigade into that State.
In asking for re-enforcements for General Bragg, I ventured to suggest that the transfer of Major-General Cox with his division from Northwestern Virginia to General Rosecrans' army required a corresponding movement on our part, and that as the prisoners captured at the post of Arkansas could not return to their department, they might most advantageously be attached to regiments of this army.
Your aide-de-camp, Colonel [W. P.] Johnston, is now inspecting this army. I wish very much that his instructions included that of Mississippi also; it is to be feared that its condition is far less satisfactory than that of General Bragg's troops.
Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. E. JOHNSTON,
HEADQUARTERS WHARTON'S CAVALRY, Unionville, March 28, 1863.
Lieutenant General LEONIDAS POLK,
Commanding Corps d'Armee:
GENERAL: Inclosed please find dispatch from Colonel [P. D.] Roddey;* also one from General Smith,+ of my command, who is stationed at
+See Skirmish on the Woodbury Pike, March 27, 1863, Part I, p. 197.