MERIDIAN, November 18, 1863.
Maj. Gen. S. D. LEE,
General Forrest reports that the enemy is preparing to re-enforce on the railroad. Your movement should therefore be made without delay. Then send Ross and his command to their destination.
J. E. JOHNSTON.
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY POST, Talladega, Ala., November 18, 1863.
Colonel B. S. EWELL,
Chief of Staff, Hdqrs. Dept. of the West, Meridian, Miss.:
COLONEL: Your telegram of the 14th instant, in reply to mine of the 13th, has been received. I presume there was some misunder-standing of the purport of my dispatch, as it had reference to the post duty and not to the conscription service. This will probably have been sufficiently explained by my letter of the same date.
In further explanation, I may add that this duty has been performed in subordination to the orders of Major-General Maury, until the recent order of General Johnston, removing Talladega and other posts from the control of the general commanding at Mobile. In relation to this order I understood your verbal directions to me [given at Meridian about ten days ago] to be that I should hereafter report directly to you. In accordance with these directions my recent telegram and letter [of the 13th instant] were sent. General Maury had directed me particularly to endeavor to protect the railroad bridge over Coosa River-about 25 miles from this place-in case of a raid, as well as from internal enemies. He had also instructed me, as far as practicable, to look to the protection of the furnaces, foundries, &c., in this vicinity and along the line of railroad passing through Talladega.
In obedience to General Maury's directions, I had commenced and partially completed the construction of block-houses and stockades at the Coosa River bridge, as well as some other simple defenses. For this and other duties relative to the protection of public property, &c., I had heretofore relied entirely upon conscripts detailed from the camp of instruction at this place. The withdrawal of all these detailed men, during my absence, by order of Brigadier-General Pillow, leaves me without any force whatever.
Under these circumstances, I thought it my duty to lay the facts before the general commanding as promptly as possible, and, in doing so, suggested the ordering of 100 men to return from the conscripts now temporarily stomping at Notasulga on their way to the Army of Tennessee. I also suggested [in my letter] the detail of a few of the officers about to be removed from the camp of instruction for post duty. My object in this letter is to explain the facts. It is for the general commanding to decide what orders to give, in case he should think it necessary to give any upon the subject. I do not consider your telegram as an order to apply to Brigadier-General Pillow for men. If I am mistaken, be pleased to correct it. I would further take the liberty of suggesting that several companies of boys between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, and other exempts, are in