HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF WEST TENNESSEE, Jackson, December 6, 1863.
General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON,
GENERAL: I have the honor to report the safe arrival of my command at this place; also to state that I am highly pleased with the prospect before me. I have never seen a more healthy spirit manifested anywhere than is shown by the people here. I have already about 5,000 men, and if I am unmolested until the 1st day of January will, I think, have 8,000 effective troops in the field.
The Federals are and have been conscripting in Southern Kentucky, and of 130 conscripted at Columbus over 100 have escaped and joined my command. They are coming in daily at the rate of 50 to 100 per day, and as soon as it becomes known that my command is here large numbers will leave the Federal lines to join us.
The enemy is strengthening his works and increasing his force at Fort Pillow, Hickman, Paducah, and Columbus, and report says preparing for a raid in this direction, but if General Lee will keep engaged the attention of the force guarding the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, I think we can whip any force they can send from above. I hope therefore that General Lee may be kept operating on that road and keep the enemy from moving on me from that direction, as it is of the utmost importance that the country be held until arms can be procured and organization of troops completed.
I am exceedingly anxious to get the arms, &c., promised me by the President, and for which requisitions have been made. I also venture a suggestion which will no doubt meet the approval of General Lee and yourself, provided there are no movements on the part of the enemy to prevent it. It is this: That General Lee, with all the cavalry that can be spared, move up into West Tennessee, bringing with him all the arms and ammunition for my command, and returning with my force to assist him, and the co-operation of General Roddey east of Corinth, we could effectually destroy the Memphis and Charleston Railroad and drive out from here from 4,000 to 6,000 head of good beef-castle for the use of the army.
Provisions and army supplies are abundant, except where railroad and other thoroughfares have been in continual use or occupancy by the enemy or by our own troops. If General Lee should come, and will advise me, I will build a pontoon bridge across the Hatchie and send out men to gather up the cattle, and make every other arrangement to co-operate. I would be glad also that he would bring with him the section of artillery and all the transportation I have in camp near Okolona and in charge of my quartermaster, Maj. C. S. Severson.
To enable me to succeed in raising troops, getting out absentees and deserters from the army, and army supplies and provisions for the army, two articles are indispensably necessary-they are arms and money; and I hope, general, that you will be able to supply me with both. I have had to advance to my quartermaster and commissary $20,000 of my private funds to subsist the command thus far; have written to Major Severson to make an estimate for &100,000 quartermaster funds and at least $150,000 pay funds. I am compelled to have the former for the purchase of transportation, artillery horses, forage, &c.; the latter is needed to pay off the troops, many