HEADQUARTERS, Courtland, Ala., November 10, 1863.
Colonel G. W. BRENT,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of Tennessee:
COLONEL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of yours of the 4th instant, leaving it to my discretion to return to Mississippi.
Taking a full view of the field before me, the present disposition of the enemy's forces in my vicinity, the tide in the Tennessee River, the scarcity of means for crossing the same, and the fact of his having possession of all the practicable gaps in the mountains leading into Eastern Tennessee, I am still of the opinion that it would be extremely hazardous for me to attempt a crossing-my command is not sufficient to cope with the enemy's cavalry, which is in larger force than mine-nor could I accomplish anything of importance were I to cross without having it in my power to meet with success that branch of the enemy's arms. Where I am there is nothing to do but what General Roddey can accomplish as well as I. In my own department there is much to be done. Under these circumstances I have deemed it best for me to return. My command will start for Okolona to-day.
From the reports of my scouts there are with Sherman's corps sixty-five flags, forty-five pieces of artillery, and seven companies of cavalry. My estimate as to numbers is not more than 20,000 and forty pieces of artillery.
Dodge's division is still in the vicinity of Waterloo. Small squads of cavalry are collecting and driving stock north of the river toward Nashville.
All the bridges and trestles are burned on the railroads leading from Huntsville to Decatur and from the latter place to Columbia.
I have left General Roddey in the Valley of the Tennessee with instructions to await orders from your headquarters. In returning my sincere thanks to the general for his kind appreciation of the small service my command has rendered in his department, permit me to express, as my deepest regret, the uncontrollable circumstances preventing my command rendering more efficient service in aid of the gallant and battle-tried Army of Tennessee. We hope future circumstances may give us the pleasure of again co-operating with it, and if, at any time, it should be deemed advisable for us to return to this department, we will do so with sincerest pleasure.
I am, colonel, your obedient servant,
S. D. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF TENNESSEE,
Missionary Ridge, November 10, 1863.
To correct the abuses now existing in the army in regard to forage, it is announced that officers and soldiers will be allowed to keep the number of horses for which they are allowed forage and no more, and no person not allowed forage will be permitted to keep a horse or mule without special orders from army headquarters.
The following will be the allowance of mounted men to different headquarters and staff officers