perfect his organization and dispositions, and also secure and consolidate his conquests in Middle and East Tennessee. By so doing we loss that country and its vast resources, and surrender to the enemy those great natural bastions which will enable him to penetrate at will Virginia the Carolinas, and Georgia. The moral effect of inaction, will be to dispirit the army and shake the confidence of the public mind. The enemy, as far as I am advised, has his forces distributed from Charleston, on the Hiwassee, to Bridgeport. To move on Bridgeport in impossible; almost equally so on Chattanooga. The weakest point of resistance is Charleston; but here were shall encounter a force equal to our own, in strong positions, selected by myself. To enable this army to take the field, re-enforcements are necessary.
I would respectfully suggest that the force of this army could be increased by the withdrawal of troops from other points, without materially injuring the defenses of those localities. I do not by this mean any reduction of force essential to the defense of Mobile, Savannah, or Charleston; but I am inclined to think that forces are disposed from Mississippi no North Carolina, along different, which, if concentrated, would swell the ranks of this command very largely. As this subject is one of vast import, and so much depends on strengthening this army, I would respectfully suggest that an officer of high rank and experience should, without delay, be sent to all the point along the coast and ascertain what forces can be spared. I know of no other source from which forces can be obtained. Conscripts cannot be procured, and even if brought up, their inexperience and want of discipline will unfit them for useful field service for some time, and we should be opposing inexperienced troops to the veterans of the enemy. An increase in the strength of this command would enable the general commanding to take the field, and by celerity of movement to avail himself of the dispersion of the enemy's forces, to strike an opportune blow upon his weakest line of resistance with our masses; or should be concentrate and advance the general commanding would oppose to him an active and vigorous resistance. But in our present condition it is necessary to avoid a general action; and should the enemy, uniting his scattered columns, advance, a retrograde movement becomes inevitable. The consequences of such a movement it is not difficult to forces-loss of territory, resources, confidence, &c., and a surrender to the enemy the means of severing the communication between the Southwestern States and Richmond, and a consolidation of his forces in the heart of the Confederacy.
The question of supplies, both for men and animals, presents a source of infinite trouble. This will be still more complicated by a retrograde movement from this point. Our deficiency of supplies would become aggravated to an alarming extent. To obviate all the difficult and evils above referred to, it occurs to my mind that every available man should be put into the field, our forces concentrated, and be prepared for the offensive. Tennessee and Kentucky should be the theater of operations. Their redemption will secure us supplies, relieve us from the danger now threatened, and insure us an early possession of the great objects for which we are contending.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. J. HARDEE,