of subsistence for the army that defends them. Meantime the efforts of the Commissary Bureau will be directed to aid in your supply, and General Polk will be instructed to afford from your late department such resources as can be spared.
The movements of the enemy give no present indications of a purpose to attack your army, and it is probable they may mean to strengthen themselves in the occupation of the portions of Tennessee they should be allowed to do so with impunity, and as soon as the condition of your forces will allow it is hoped you will be able to assume the offensive.
Inactivity, it is feared, may cause the spirit of despondency to recur and the practice of straggling and desertion to increase. Should the enemy venture to separate his army or send off detachments on different expeditions, it is hoped you may be able early to strike them with effect. While, however, these suggestions are ventured, your own experience and judgment are relied on to form and act on your own plans of military operations, and there will be the fullest disposition on the part of the Department to sustain and co-operate with them. With this view you are invited to communicate freely with the Department, and to disclose your conceptions of the military situation and how the most efficient co-operation may be given you. At the same time it is feared the other imperative claims on the Department must confine you almost exclusively to the resources of your present department and such general aids as it may be in the power of General Polk to render, with whom consultation as to the general ends to be accomplished by both is recommended.
Very truly, yours,
JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.
CHARLESTON, S. C., December 18, 1863.
Hon. WILLIAM PORCHER MILES,
MY DEAR COLONEL: I am not in the least surprised at the contents of your letter of the 12th and 13th instant, for I had conjectured exactly what happened; but after all I desire only one thing-the success of our cause, and I am always ready to throw in my mite toward that end, but I cannot consent to being made a scapegoat of. Moreover, when I think of the president inability and obstinacy of jour rulers, I become somewhat despondent and fearful that, notwithstanding all our efforts and sacrifices, we may be finally crushed. Yet how can a nation fighting for all that is dear in life - home, honor, property, and independence - with over 200,000 men in the field, be conquered by a vile, mercenary horde, with not many more than 300,000 under arms? The thing really appears absurd; yet when we consider that our affairs are managed by such men
as---,tutti quanti, the heart sinks very low within one's bosom. Is not the question reduced to a mathematical problem: If in two and a half years we have lost so much,how long, under the like policy, will it take to lose the balance, due allowance being made for exhaustion in an arithmetical progression, if not a geometrical one? I think gross injustice is done by the administration and its