To my suggestion that the surest means of getting the rebels altogether out of East Tennessee is to be found in the Army of the Potomac, the reply is, that that is true, but from that army nothing is to be hoped under its present commander. This naturally led to your second proposition, namely, that either Sherman or W. F. Smith should be put in command of that army. To this the answer is such as to leave but little doubt in my mind that the second of these officers will be appointed to that post. Both Secretary of War and General Halleck said to me that as long as a fortnight before my arrival they had come to the conclusion that when a change should be made General W. F. Smith would be the best person to try.
Some doubts which they seemed to have respecting his disposition and personal character I think I was able to clear up. Secretary of War has also directed me to inform him that he is to be promoted on the first vacancy. President, Secretary of War, and General Halleck agree with you in thinking that it would be, on the whole, much better to select him than Sherman. As yet, however, nothing has been decided upon, and you will understand that I have somewhat exceed my instructions from the Secretary of War in his communication, especially in the second branch of it, but it seems to me necessary that you should know all these particulars. I leave for New York to-night to remain until after New Year's.
C. A. DANA.
WASHINGTON, December 21, 1863-4.30 p.m.
As I understand from your dispatch of the 7th, and from conversations with Mr. Dana, you propose, first, to expel the enemy from East Tennessee, and to provide against his return into the valley; second, to either force the rebels farther back into Georgia, or to provide against their return by that line into Tennessee; third, to clean out West Tennessee and fourth to move a force down the Mississippi and operate against Mobile. The importance of these objects is considered to be in the order above stated. It is thought that the fourth should not be definitely determined upon until the other three are accomplished, or their accomplishment made reasonably certain. Moreover, circumstances may be such by the time that your spare force reach Port Hudson or New Orleans as to require their services west of the Mississippi; if so, the latter part of the plan would be somewhat varied or its execution delayed.
H. W. HALLECK,
NASHVILLE, December 21, 1863.
General ROBERT ALLEN,
Chief Quartermaster, Louisville, Ky.:
Colonel Donaldson, I presume, will require at least 4,000 artillery and ambulance horses to fill all requisitions on him between this