HEADQUARTERS POLK'S CORPS,
July 30, 1863.
MY DEAR GENERAL: in reflecting on the situation, it seemed to me that things are not wearing a promising aspect, and that some change in our programme might not be amiss. It appears from our advices that Grant, for the want of water, has ceased his march from Jackson eastward, and has returned to Vicksburg. It is also reported that he is sending one of his corps (McPherson's) to the east, to co-operate with Meade against Lee, and with the react he is preparing to move against Mobile. Suppose this to be so; the question then arises, what disposition is best for our own forces? If I am rightly informed as to General Johnston's strength, it is hardly sufficient to resist a combination of Grant and Banks, and must be content with checking their onward movement only. It is not sufficient to do more, and, first or last, Alabama would be overrun is sprite of him. If that be os, could not a better office be frond for General Jonston and his army? I think there could. That office would be to the general ordered to this point with his whole army, excepting certain small detachments, and to have him placed in command of the whole of the disposable forces of the west and south or southwest, to be concentrated at this point, including his own, General Bragg's, and General Buckner's forces, and others that could be spared over the whole southwest. The detachments left behind should be placed at the most important points in Alabama and Mississippi, to be held in observation, and to act as a nucleus around which the quotas of State troops now being rased should be concentrated. To such commands should be intrusted the work of chacing the enemy, removing stores, &c., and making all the defense which, in the existing condition of things, is allowable for that portion of the Confederacy. The army thus concentrated under General Johnston ought to foot up 80,000 men, exclusive of the troops of Pemberton and Gardner. With such a force at his disposal, I see no reason why General Johnston might not assume the offensive, and attack Rosecrans with the strongest probability os success. I think he could in crushing him and repossessing Middle Tennessee. Then he might move down and take possession of the neck between the Cumberland and Tennessee, and so of the mounts of those streams, and of Columbus and Island Numbers 10 and Memphis; is short, place us where we ever desired and been attempting to be since this war began. This would wipe out the prestige of the Vicksburg success, and throw us on the line Grant;s communications,open a connection with the trans-Mississippi forces, and enable us to unite and move down upon Grant with whole western strength. Besides this, if we were successful, we might hope to find arms to arm Pemberton, and to employ his force as rapidly as armed.
I confess in this campaign I find more that is hopeful and promising than in anything that presents itself, and it is in keeling with views. I have always entertained and urged in regard to the mission of the Army of Tennessee. In my judgment, it is the important army of the Confederacy, and has a higher mission, and, properly strengthened and well handled, it will be found to have accomplished more than any other in effecting the great results after which we are all aiming.
So deeply impressed am I with these views, that I have ventured to present them for the consideration of the President, and now submit them for your consideration, as having been valued co-worked in this field so long, and, through you, respectfully to the consideration of your chief. Something should be done, and that promptly, and after mature