A return to the lenient system that formerly prvailed will assuredly be productive of like results in the future, and render still harsher measures necessary hereafter, if the army is to continue to exist. I fear that pardons, unless for the best of reasons, will not only make all the blood that has beeen shed for the maintenance of discipline useless, but will result in the painful necessity of shedding a great deal more. I hope I feel as atutely as any one the pain and sorrow that such evnts occasion, and I am sure that no one would more willingly dspense with them if they could be avoided, but I am convinced that the only way to prevent them is to visit the offense, when committed, with the sternest punishment, and leave the offender without hope of escape, by making the penalty inevitable. It must be remembered that the punishment of death for desertion is inflicted almost exclusively for the warning of others, and no one without experience can conceive how readily the slightest prospect of escape is embraced.
I have felt it my duty to bring this subject strongly to your attention, as I am satisfied that in it, more than in any other, is involved the strength and efficiency of the army and its ability to cope with the enemy. And I am further convinced that in a strict adherence to a stern discipline will be found the only means of avoiding the recurrence of these sad occasions.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE.
ABINGDON, October 30, 1863.
General BRAXTON BRAGG, Chickamauga:
Your telegram of yesterday received. My cavalry is on the Watauga and Holston, from Carter's Station to Kingsport. Infantry mving to the same line. I cannot move my infantry beyond the Holston. Will use cavalry to make raids and, if practicable, collect cattle and hogs. It is important that there should be additonal force on this end of the line. I have asked for it repeatedly. I believe there is no enemy this side of Jonesborough.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF WESTERN VA. AND EAST TENN.,
Abingdon, October 30, 1863.
General S. COOPER,
Adjt. and Insp. General, C. S. Army, Richmond, Va.:
GENERAL: I received day before yesterday, at Dublin, a telegram from you, informing me that General Lee was again calling for the Eighth and Fourteenth Regiments Virginia Cavalry, and directing me to send them to him if I could spare them. I immediately replied by telegraph that I could not spare these regiments, or any other troops.
Since the withdrawal of Major-General Buckner's troops from Southwestern Virginia and East Tennessee, and the evacuation of Cumberland Gap, my line has been greatly extended, and this part ofit, in particular, much more exposed than it has been at any time since the war began. While the enemy holds Cumberland Gap and East Tennessee this section of country is open to invasion, and the salt-works and lead mines alone, which are so essential to us, offer