these: First, never to assume over others authority which is not legitimately mine; and second, to resist in every proper way the usurpations of others over me.
The commanding general has failed to fix upon me any violation of the first rule; my adherence to the second brought me into this revolution, and will induce me to inquire particularly into the right of the commanding general to exercise the functions of the President, as he is doing when he dictates to me in regard to my administrative duties in the Department of East Tennessee.
In your note of the 20th you state, by direction of the commanding general, that my "Department of East Tennessee has been broken up by instructions from the President of the Confederate States."
When I first asked for a copy of the instructions which would relieve me from the responsibility of the trust, the paper making the inquiry was indignantly returned to me. I urged it again as a right that could not be denied me, and by direction of the commanding general you now reply that it was the "opinion" of the commanding general, in which "the President concurred," that inasmuch as I have been assigned with a portion of my command from the Department of East Tennessee by competent authority, my administrative control over that geographical department necessarily ceased from that time. When, in what manner, or by what authority, or with what portion of my command this assignment was made is not stated.
My inquiry also embraces the "order" of the President, which was referred to in your letter of the 20th, as having assigned part of my troops to Major-General Jones. As you make no further allusion to this, I have a right to infer that that question also is reduced to an "opinion," and that the order has not been issued.
My inquiry for the instructions and orders of the President has not, then, been fruitful of results, but your response has rather served to involve the question in Delphic mystery. I confess that I am unable to solve the problem by any plain rule of direct reasoning, and will refer to higher authority for a solution that may reconcile the statements which to me appear in conflict.
But not only to your two letters appear to differ materially from each other, but your last seems illogical in itself. You say virtually, that inasmuch as it is the opinion of the commanding general that because of my assignment with part of my command from East Tennessee, my administrative control over that department ceased from that time; therefore, I am recognized only as a division commander. The logical sequence is not clear. On the contrary, the argument of the commanding general refutes his own conclusions as follows: I was assigned but once from my department to the command of General Bragg. That was by the President, and the assignment, as has been shown, was for a specific purpose-strategic combinations. The assignment precluded the interference of General Bragg with organizations. The "portion" of my "command" alluded to was all that which I took with me, a division of infantry, a division of cavalry, a corps of engineers, and forty pieces of artillery. It is the only special portion of my command with which it could be said that I was ever assigned "from the Department of East Tennessee;" therefore, the logical deduction from the general syllogism is that that force and not a division is my appropriate command by assignment of "competent authority."