in the department at all competent. None to spare in this, and none in this so competent as General Ewell.
[J. E. JOHNSTON,]
TULLAHOMA, April 10, 1863.
L. LEWIS, Mobile:
I have ordered no impressment of negroes in Alabama. If impressments are made, those who have sent most of their hands to work on fortifications at Mobile should be excused. What officer is making the impressment?
J. E. JOHNSTON,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF EAST TENNESSEE, April 10, 1863.
[Colonel B. S. EWELL]:
COLONEL: In forwarding the inclosed letter* from General Pegram, I have, at his request, consented to add my own views as to the bearing which the enterprise which he suggests would have on the defense of this department from incursions by the enemy. In so expressing my opinion, I do not repeat the view of "the situation" which, after some study of the subject, when I was in command of the Cumberland range last winter, I communicated to Generals Smith and Heth, but then, as now, I desired to preface my opinions by the admission that they are only offered as the crude suggestions of a mind not trained by military study. I reluctantly advance, unasked by the general commanding, any opinion at all.
On exploring the various gaps from Big Creek to the Pound, inclusive, I found there were at least three which troops with artillery and wagons could pass. No obstructions of an artificial character had prevented General G. W. Morgan from coming through last summer. He turned the flank of General Stevenson, then occupying Cumberland Gap, and compelled our forces to fall back on the railroad. To defend all the gaps would require a force at each nearly equal to the attacking army, as the distance between is such that unless we could divine which would be the object of attack, our troops could not be concentrated at the true point before the enemy would reach it from the point of divergence, say Cumberland Ford or Barboursville. If the enemy advances as far as Barboursville, makes a feint of attempting to attack by way of the gaps, and suddenly turns to the right, advancing by way of Jamestown, he could arrive at the railroad at Loudoun, and even at this point, before the infantry at Cumberland Gap could march here.
The route into Kentucky by Jamestown can be traveled in a less space of time than any other, because the elevations are less and the roads better. A line of defense on the Cumberland, from Boston to the ford, would have an advantage if it were not for the difficulty of forwarding supplies from here. There would be but two practicable passes in Pine Mountain naturally as strong as any in the Cumberland range, and there would be the river as a front. But the difficulty of supplying an army at that point, and the advance of the position from the railroad as a base, seemed to oppose its adoption.