Your estimate of the enemy's force in your immediate front is deemed larger than the facts justify, and, moreover, a considerable portion of it is occupied by Major General Samuel Jones, in Northeast Tennessee, who is vigorously pressing on the enemy, and has just made a very successful blow at Rogersville. Sherman's force, fully 20,000, is now within six days' march of this point, rendering any further detachments from here impracticable.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEORGE WM. BRENT,
HEADQUARTERS, Sweet Water, November 11, 1863.
Lieutenant T. ELLIS,
LIEUTENANT: Yours of the 9th, inclosing a copy of a telegram from Major General S. Jones, is received. Please inform the commanding general that I am fully aware of the importance of activity in military operations. I have lost no time on any occasion during this war. The delay that occurs is one that might have been prevented, but not by myself. The troops are not yet here, the supply train is not here, nor have my troops any meat rations. I was assured by the commanding general that we should find a surplus of provisions in this country, and really we find none but breadstuffs. As soon as I find a probability of moving without almost certain starvation, I shall move, provided the troops are up. If the troops that are opposed to me are in a demoralized condition, as your letter intimates, without being beaten in battle, what must be the condition of those of General Rosecrans' army? I think, however, that it is a bad principle in war to despise your enemy.
I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
SWEET WATER, November 11, 1863.
General B. BRAGG:
GENERAL: Your telegram of to-day is received. Not a moment will be lost by us. My troops are not up. Please urge your transportation quartermaster to have them sent forward. It seems almost impossible to procure meat rations in the country.
HEADQUARTERS, Sweet Water, Tennessee, November 11, 1863.
General BRAXTON BRAGG,
GENERAL: I regret to report the entire failure of the preparations ordered by you to advance and facilitate our operations. Our railroad affairs have been so badly managed that my troops could have marched up in half the time that has been consumed in transporting them by rail. In fact, there is no certainly that they will reach here at all by rail, and this is the only means left, as our battery horses