If the commanding general does not deem it essential even to notify me of the existence of orders which affect me so seriously, he certainly cannot expect me to act with more intelligence in regard to them than the citizens of ancient Rome in reference to the decrees which related to them; for though they might not read the high-placed laws, they were at least conscious of the fact that some laws affecting their interests were in existence. I respectfully ask that I may be furnished with a copy of the President's order in reference to my command.
While I cannot question the existence of the President's order, which, in itself, is a sufficient evidence that the department "has broken up," I beg leave to question the correctness of the deduction of the commanding general, based upon "the actual occupation of that territory by the enemy."
First. Because the statement is not in itself strictly accurate, a larger portion of the former department in East Tennessee, which includes Southwestern Virginia and Western North Carolina, being now freer from hostile occupation than of the Department of Tennessee.
Second. Because, even if all of it were so occupied, such occupancy would not in itself extinguish the command, as is evidenced by the fact that the general commanding exercised the full rights of a department commander, even when the enemy's forces occupied almost his entire department, and continued the exercise of that authority until the arrival of the forces of Generals Hood and Longstreet reinstated him in a territorial fraction of his department.
It is also proper that I should add in reply to your allusion to the occupation of my department by the enemy, that every foot of that territory which has been relinquished was evacuated under the peremptory orders of the general commanding, and that the propositions I made for its defense, and which I have every reason to think would have been successful if they had been adopted, were entirely disregarded.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. B. BUCKNER,
[Inclosure Numbers 3.]
HEADQUARTERS BUCKNER'S DIVISION, Near Chattanooga, November 7, 1863.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.:
GENERAL: I have the honor to transmit for the consideration of His Excellency the President the following communications, viz:
First. My reply to His Excellency's note to General Bragg which was shown me at the President's request.
Second. Copy of Colonel Brent's letter announcing that my department had been broken up.
Third. My renewal of my application to be furnished with a copy of the President's orders; my first application and the notes which preceded having been already laid before the President by General Bragg.
Fourth. Colonel Brent's response to application.
Fifth. My reply to that response.