If the conclusion which is forced in your letter, and not logically deduced, be true, the whole object of the President in authorizing a strategic combination of the forces might be perverted by a prejudiced commander; for, according tot he theory which the commanding general advances, all that some corrupt or designing commander would have to do to accomplish some selfish purpose would be to order a strategic march under the sub-department commander, it may be for only 10 feet beyond the limits of his department. "From that time," according to General Bragg's theory, the administrative authority of the sub-commander ceases, his organizations are broken up and may be remodeled at the pleasure of the senior, and the fruitful result of the strategic combination may be the thwarting of the choice of the President in a department commander, the crushing if not the humiliation of a supposed foe, and the placing in the favored position of one who might be thought more subservient to the will of the commander. All this might be accomplished, if the commanding general's theory be correct, by a strategic march of 10 yards.
The commanding general's theory seems rather to seek a particular conclusion than to follow leading principles of law and right, which, if pursued, will always end in just deductions.
You close your letter with the following mandatory sentence: "And you are required by the commanding general to desist from the exercise of any other authority"-that of division commander-"in this military department."
I have every respect for the legitimate authority of my superiors, and when I may have offended against discipline, will patiently endure reproof. But, when my commanding general appears persistently to have sought some evidence which would justify his reproof, and has entirely failed to find any, I do not recognize it as one of the rights of rank for him to insult a junior by assuming as a fact what exists only in his imagination, and in a style o language which might be well suited to the atmosphere of an Eastern satrap's court, to command me to "desist" from what I am not doing and have not the slightest purpose to do. You have already been notified that since the 20th I have confined my action within the authority of a division commander.
Under all the circumstances, I cannot but regard myself as unhappily situated as the unfortunate lamb in the fable, who, without the slightest inclination or ability to offend, found a neighboring animal on the brook above him unappeasable irritated at the muddied stream, which was laid to the charge of the innocent lamb.
Although I have clearly demonstrated the fact that I am legitimately entitled by assignment of the President to the command of the force I brought with me; that the principle has been more than once recognized by the commanding general himself; that in recognition of that principle he maintained me in command of the equivalent of that force until the 17th instant; that instead of being myself a usurper of authority, as he charges, I have, rather than be the occasion of irritation to a mind already sufficiently harassed with business, submitted without complaint to the encroachments of the commanding general upon my own authority. Although the above propositions are clearly established, the commanding general recognizes me now only as a division commander. Provided I am in a position to best serve the cause which I have embraced, it is of little consequence to me whether I command 10 men or 10,000. I have never shown the vanity or bad taste to seek or apply for a com-