and will I hope supply your want in North Mississippi and West Tennessee so as to enable to draw Major-General Lee to the southern portion of your department.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF WEST TENNESSEE, Jackson, December 13, 1863.
Colonel B. S. EWELL:
I send out this morning the unarmed men of my command here for the purpose of getting arms. I have directed Colonel R. M. Russell, in command of one of the new regiments, to report himself at Meridian, for the purpose of going before an examining board; from what I can learn he is deemed qualified to command a regiment of cavalry, and when examined, if pronounced qualified, I desire to place him in a like committee to examine officers who are candidates for field and company positions. I respectfully ask that the opportunity be given him for an examination, and a certificate given him if found competent.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
N. B. FORREST,
HEADQUARTERS, Near Rogersville, Tennessee, December 13, 1863.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General:
GENERAL: Your telegram of the 11th is just received. I send a copy of my dispatch by telegraph herewith. According to the best information that I can get, the enemy was re-enforced by two army corps from General Grant's army. One of these, I learn from a citizen deemed reliable, has returned to General Grant's army. I presume that the enemy's force now in East Tennessee will amount to about 27,000. Mine should reach 20,000, including General Ransom's command. The enemy has the country on the north side of the Holston from Bean's Station west, and on the south side from Mossy Creek west. His lines at present cover a very good foraging country, and it is my opinion that without that country he cannot remain in East Tennessee; yet it is almost impossible for me to hold it without railroad communication. We are in some distress for want of shoes and other clothing,a nd are in want of horseshoes, and are a little short of ammunition; yet I dislike to move farther east unless my troops are really necessary at some other point. If we regain possession of Eat Tennessee, I think that our position here against the enemy's flank, in case he attempts to move into Georgia, will be a good one, and it will be a good point from which we may threaten the enemy's rear in Kentucky and at Nashville. The season is so far advanced, however, that I can scarcely hope to get shoes it time to accomplish much, and I dislike to venture out at so late a period without shoes. There are many subsistence supplies and much forage in East Tennessee, but they are considerably scattered about the country, and will give as much trouble in getting
52 R R-VOL XXXI, PT III