but without understanding fully his wish at the time, I caused Special Orders, 176, to be issued, which merged the Department of East Tennessee with the general Department of Tennessee. I would prefer that you should suggest this change, rather than that the President should order it without your suggestion. Let me hear from you.
[Inclosure Numbers 1.]
CHATTANOOGA, July 22, 1863.
General S. COOPER:
I have already devolved on General Buckner the administrative duty of his former department as far as in my power. It would be better, however, were his command designated as a department, and I desire it may be done.
[Inclosure Numbers 2.]
HEADQUARTERS, Knoxville, August 8, 1863.
Brigadier General W. W. MACKALL, Chief of Staff:
GENERAL: On the reception at the headquarters of Special Orders, Numbers 176, Adjutant and Inspector General's Office, I addressed a communication of the first paragraph of that order, which would remove all doubt of its meaning.
The construction placed by me upon that paragraph was that the Department of East Tennessee continued to exist as a distinct administrative organization within the Department of Tennessee, int he same way that the Department of the Gulf was an interior and distinct but subordinate command, under the orders of General Bragg. What chiefly led me to this construction was a dispatch of July 22, from General Cooper, in the following words:
It has been determined to unite your department with that of General Bragg,a nd to constitute of the two a separate and independent command. You will, however, continue to correspond directly with this office.
That is, according to my understanding, the two departments were to continue in existence for administrative purposes, but the two united should constitute a single "command," "separate and distinct" from the various other departments under command of General Johnston; but the Department of East Tennessee, while subordinate to the senior command, was to correspond direct with Richmond. This led me also to construe the order so as to correspond with the telegram and I considered it to mean that the Department of East Tennessee, retaining its administrative organization, was merged in the Department of Tennessee, "which [that is, Department of Tennessee] will be separate and independent."
Permit me respectfully to invite the attention of the general commanding to this subject, and to ask his final decision. I have not yet received a response from Richmond. I will remark that personally it is of little concern with me what may be the decision of the question, but I think the administrative duties will be injuriously affected by an adherence to his General Orders, Numbers 24, which, while it devolves upon me the administration of the district, takes from me the authority necessary to administer military justice.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. B. BUCKNER.
*See p. 962.