War of the Rebellion: Serial 056 Page 0661 Chapter XLIII. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-CONFEDERATE.

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great general on whom the hopes of the country could be safely anchored. How far that expression of opinion may have influenced his own views in regard to me, I, of course, am unable to know. But on the 17th my command was reduced one-half. I executed without delay the orders given me in reference to the new organization; reported on the 18th my action as far as it had gone, and asked for further instructions on a point which the order had not fully explained in regard to that portion of my division-the entire organization having been left with me-yet remaining in Southwest Virginia.

On the 20th I received a reply, announcing through a very unusual channel, and with some want of definiteness, an entire change in my official relations to the commanding general and to the Government. The letter contains two positive statements, one as follows:

The general commanding directs me to say that your Department of East Tennessee has been broken up by instructions from the President of the Confederate States, as well as by the actual occupation of that territory by the enemy.

The other statement was:

The troops formerly of your command and now in Virginia constitute, by order from the President, a part of the forces of Major General Samuel Jones.

I asked that I might be furnished with a copy of the instructions and orders which changed my official relations. In the letter making that request I conceded that the order of the President was sufficient to relieve me of the responsibilities of the position to which he had assigned me, but I combated, and I think successfully, the hypothesis of the commanding general in relation to the "occupation" of the territory. My none, which was not disrespectful, was returned with an indorsement, which induced me to think that the commanding general had fallen into an error in supposing that the respectful statement of an unpalatable fact was an act of disrespect, and that servility is an element of military subordination. I accordingly, on the 23rd instant, renewed my application as a right which could not, under the circumstances, be denied, that I should be furnished with a copy of the instructions which were referred to as defining my official relations to my Government.

To this letter I have received the following reply, dated October 25, to my request to be furnished with a copy of the orders and instructions which "broke up" my department and distributed my command.*

Passing over the discrepancies which exist in the two notes, I will remark that the "opinions" of a military commanders when designed to affect others, are usually expressed in the form of orders; and the official determinations of the President, which are clear, concise, and not apt to admit of misconstruction, are usually announced through his recognized staff. When he selected me to command the Department of East Tennessee, it was announced in orders. When he recalls me from that duty, the fact will probably be similarly announced. When he does, I am willing to relinquish it, for my history sufficiently shows that I am not ambitious of place. I am ambitious, however, of fully discharging my duty as a soldier, and when the President has confided to me a trust, it is to him, and not to General Bragg, that I am under obligations to yield it. If there are two traits in my character that are at all remarkable, they are


*See Sub-inclosure Numbers 4, which was here duplicated.