and Lieutenant General L. Polk has been assigned to duty in your department, relieving Lieutenant-General Hardee in the command of the troops he has been organizing.
I have the honor to remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. PRESTON JOHNSTON,
Colonel and Aide-de-Camp.
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY IN NORTH MISSISSIPPI,
Abbeville, October 23, 1863.
General S. D. LEE:
GENERAL: When you were here your time was so much occupied that I had no opportunity of talking with you, and I feel great embarrassment in opening to you the subject of this communication lest I should seem officious. The enemy has pressed every man he could spare to Rosecrans, and "the Mississippi River," in the language of their newspapers, "has been left to the protection of their gun-boats." If Memphis could be taken, it would undo all that was accomplished by Grant at Vicksburg and compel the re-enforcements now going to Rosecrans to come back, and it has occurred to me that the infantry now in Mississippi could not be better employed than in taking Memphis.
You would have railroad transportation sufficient for ordnance and commissary stores up to Panola, 70 miles from Memphis. My cavalry could cover the movement and cut the railroad so as to prevent re-enforcements from Corinth, and Memphis could be taken without much resistance. General Jackson's cavalry could in the mean time prevent the enemy from reaching Meridian. The whole distance from Canton to Memphis is 170 miles and can be made easily in ten days.
Such a move would take them by surprise and strike terror into the enemy. We could hold the place long enough to get immense quantities of valuable supplies if not longer, and, if compelled to leave, could destroy the largest depot of supplies in the southwest.
If these suggestions are not considered sound, I hope they will not be regarded as officious.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
JAS. R. CHALMERS,
ADJUTANT AND INSPECTOR GENERAL'S OFFICE,
Richmond, October 23, 1863.
General J. E. JOHNSTON,
Commanding, &c., Meridian, Miss.:
GENERAL: I am instructed by the Secretary of War to inform you, in reply to your communication of the 11th instant, that since the date, and prior to the receipt, of your letter, General Pillow, having been summoned to Richmond for conference, has received instructions, of which you were duly informed on the 14th instant, which will continue at least for a time, and it is believed for the benefit of the service, the delegation of authority heretofore intrusted