[Sub-inclosure Numbers 5.]
HEADQUARTERS BUCKNER'S DIVISION, Before Chattanooga, October 26, 1863.
Colonel G. W. BRENT,
Asst. Adjt. General, Army Hdqrs., near Chattanooga:
COLONEL: Your letter of yesterday in reply to mine of the 23d, "in relation to the Department of East Tennessee," was received this evening.
Before discussing the illogical deductions of your letter, it may be instructive to review the prominent facts which have led to the existing complication.
In July last I was by the authority of the President of the Confederate States in command of a military department which was in no way under the command of General Bragg. On an intimation from him that he desired me to send him re-enforcements, I conducted immediately to his support the largest force I could assemble. His appreciation of the assistance is best shown in his own words from a letter addressed to me, and dated Chattanooga, July 7, 1863. In that he states:
I fully appreciate the soldierly and patriotic feeling with which for a time you risked your immediate command in an effort to assist a brother officer to win at the vital point. Unhappily, I did not succeed in striking the enemy, but should our countrymen now, or critics hereafter, condemn my movement in retreat, of you, general, they can only speak in commendation for your prompt self-sacrifice.
I claim that the spirit which the general commanding there commends is that which has never ceased to actuate me in this revolution. It was the same spirit which induced my views to the President, when, appreciating the importance of unity in military movements, I candidly advised that my separate command should be subordinated to the authority of General Bragg.
The department of East Tennessee having been merged in the Department of Tennessee by orders from the War Department, General Bragg, on the 6th of August, 1863, assumed command in an order, from which the following is an extract:
The troops within the limits of the late Department of East Tennessee will constitute the Third Army Corps, and be known as "Buckner's corps." The administration of that district will remain with Major-General Buckner.
As it is not my custom to assume authority which does not appertain to my official position, and I was confident no authority for organizing an army corps was vested in me, I applied for instructions in reference to its organization. I also requested, as my authority as a district commander was limited, and conflicts might arise, in a double jurisdiction, between my administrative subordinates and those of the commanding general, that I might be relieved of the duties of administration and my authority restricted to that simply of the commander of troops. To this I received the following reply:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF TENNESSEE, Chattanooga, Tennessee, August 20, 1863.
Major General S. B. BUCKNER,
GENERAL: In reply to your communication of the 17th instant, in regard to the administration of your command, the general commanding instructs me to say, that as the entire administration has been confided to you no conflict or confusion can take place.
42 R R-VOL XXXI, PT III