HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF WEST TENNESSEE, Jackson, Tennessee, December 8, 1863.
General BRAXTON BRAGG,
Commanding Army of Tennessee:
GENERAL: I herewith respectfully inclose you copy of a letter addressed to General Joseph E. Johnston,* which fully states the condition of affairs in West Tennessee. I have succeeded thus far beyond my most sanguine expectations; troops and men are flocking to me from all quarters, and I hope soon to have a large effective force in the field. I am satisfied that there are from 5,000 to 6,000 men belonging to your army in this and Middle Tennessee that can be gotten out, and I only require arms and money, with the aid and co-operation of the troops south of this, to effect my purposes. A simultaneous movement on the part of General Roddey and General Lee, with a brigade of infantry from the Army of Mississippi thrown on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad would so destroy it that the enemy would be forced to content themselves within their fortifications at Memphis and Corinth. With open and uninterrupted communication with General Johnston's army the old soldiers could be easily sent out and forwarded to you. I am confident, also, that many thousand head of cattle can be driven out and still leave enough for the subsistence of the troops necessary to hold or occupy this country. There is also a large quantity of leather and bacon, and I know of no other region as accessible as this and which can be occupied, and all in it made available to the Confederacy, with as little cost. Commissary purchasers from your army are here, and I shall aid them and do all in my power to send you supplies; at the same time the want of arms prevents me from being able to give safe escort across the line southward, and nothing short of the destruction of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad from Memphis to Corinth will make the transit safe and reliable. I have given the people the opportunity of volunteering until 1st of January-after that all to be conscripted and sent to fill up infantry regiments; and suggest that after the 1st of January General Pillow be ordered in this department for that purpose. There being no general officer here but myself, another is greatly needed to aid me in organizing and commanding the troops, and I respectfully ask that Brig. Gen. F. C. Armstrong be ordered to report to me for duty. With his assistance and experience, I am confident that I shall have in a short time 8,000 effective men in the field, besides some thousand belonging to infantry command, all of whom will be sent back at the earliest possible moment. I am not only willing, but desirous, general, of rendering the country all the service possible in the occupancy and defense of West Tennessee; also to get out from here all the supplies I can for the subsistence of your army. If you can aid me in the services of a general officer or the procurement of arms I shall be thankful, and in turn use every exertion to send to you the absentees from your ranks and supplies, &c., for your troops.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
N. B. FORREST,