ATLANTA, October 6, 1863.
His Excellency PRESIDENT DAVIS:
MY DEAR SIR: I wrote you on the 27th* renewing the expression of my opinion of the incapacity of General Bragg for the responsible office of commander-in-chief of the Army of Tennessee, and asking that he should be replaced by General Lee or some other. It is proper to add that that letter was written after a meeting by appointment of Lieutenant-Generals Longstreet, Hill, and myself to consider what should be done in view of the palpable weakness and mismanagement manifested in the conduct of the military operations of this army. It was agreed that I should address you, sir, and General Longstreet+ the Secretary of War on the subject. These letters were written and forwarded, and, I need not add, after mature deliberation. General Hill concurred in the necessity of this measure. As you may not have perused these letters before leaving Richmond, I have deemed it proper to bring them to your notice. Two days subsequent to my writing this letter to you, sir, I received an order from General Bragg suspending me from my command and ordering me to this place. This order was based on alleged disobedience in not attacking the enemy at daylight on Sunday, the 20th. My explanation of that failure was furnished in a note, of which the accompanying is a copy.+ In this paper it will be perceived, 1st, that I directed a staff officer of General Hill to say to the general I desired to see him at my headquarters, that he might learn his orders as to the operations of the following day; 2nd, that the necessary orders were issued from my headquarters at 11.30 p. m. to General Hill and to Generals Cheatham and Walker, and dispatched by courier. Cheatham and Walker received their orders. Hill could not be found by my courier, nor did Hill make his way to my headquarters. These facts, with others, as you will observe, were embodied and presented the commanding general in reply to a request for a written explanation of the failure to attack. They were pronounced unsatisfactory, and the order for my suspension issued, and it should be observed that for the delay charged I cannot fell myself responsible, by whomsoever caused. Did we occasion any failure in our success of the battle, for the enemy were clearly beaten at all points along my line and fairly driven from the field?
It will be, no doubt, affirmed that had the attack been made at daylight the enemy would have been overwhelmed and Chattanooga taken, &c., and that all subsequent delay and miscarriages are to be set down to that account. To make this affirmation good, it must be shown that at the close of the battle that night, a condition of things was developed which made pursuit impossible, and that it was equally hopeless next morning. This will not be pretended, inasmuch as the troops at the close of the fight were in the very highest spirits, ready for any service, and the moon, by whose guidance the enemy fled from the field, was never brighter-as bright to guide us in the pursuit as the enemy in their flight. Besides, if the commanding general, under a delusion he took no pains to dispel, thought the troops were fatigued and chose to put off pursuit until the morning, why did he not attempt it then? Was it because he had made the discovery that the enemy had made his retreat into Chattanooga in
*Not found; but see Polk to Lee of that date.
+See Longstreet to Seddon, September 26, Part IV, p. 705.
+See Polk to Brent, September 28, 1863, p. 47.