The newspapers announce that you have been promoted. I fear this is a mistake of the press, and that any congratulations on my part, which I might offer, were premature; through be assured it would give me unfeigned gratification to know that you had actually been promoted to the command of the troops.
Ah, my dear general, what opportunities have been lost, irretrievably, I fear, for a signally decisive and brilliant campaign in your quarter since the battle of Chancellorsville last spring. That combat left the enemy shattered and demoralized, under an incapable general in Virginia; our own army exalted in spirit and morale and invincible, with one corps which had not been engaged. If that corps had been suddenly thrown to the assistance of Bragg, via the two routes, then open, of Knoxville and Atlanta, he could have overwhelmed and destroyed Rosecrans, who would have had no way of escape. Tennessee and Kentucky would then have been left open to us, and must have been.
Tennessee recovered, and Kentucky placed in position to show on which side she would cast her lot, there would have been troops enough besides for the advance of a corps to memphis and Fort Pillow, by which we should have cut off Grant's communications and his supplies, and changed the whole face of affairs at Vicksburg. Grant's army would inevitably have been caught in the toils. He could not have subsisted or fought, and must have capitulated.
Instead, we have had the march across the border into Pennsylvania, the check at Gettysburg, the loss there of some 20,000 of the flower of the Army of the Potomac, the disaster of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, the backward movements from Tullahoma and Chattanooga, and the re-enforcement of General Bragg too late to strike a decisive blow; and only when the enemy were able, after a series of successes on their part, and serious injures almost mortal to us, to concentrate in our a force larger in proportion to Bragg's present force than that with which Rosecrans originally comforted him, before he fell back to Chattanooga and previous to his re-enforcement, the re-enforcement has a length taken place, but too late for material good, I fear.
In Virginia, Lee must be in far worse condition to meet Made than he could have been to encounter Hooker had Longstreet been sent to Bragg in May.
Hooker's men were disheartened by the drubbing received at Chancellorsville under him, and at Fredericksburg under Burnside. Made's men must be inspirited by their success at Gettysburg and more recently at Bristoe Station.
The worst of all this, my dear general, is that the right course was so plainly laid down by the rules of the art of war, that the veriest tyro ought to have sen it.
It would seem that the Almighty had more than once supremely favored us with the very opportunities of all others that we could wish to enable us to bring this war to a crisis; to enable us to beat our preserve enemy into a sense of the utter hopelessness of his efforts to subjugate us. But it has been all in vain, and we are on the eve of more hard fighting, more heavy and irreparable, exhausting losses. But all this has, been brought painfully and vividly to your mind often enough before; so excuse me, and believe me, sincerely, your friend,
G. T. BEAUREGARD.