EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, Richmond, December 32, 1863.
General J. E. JOHNSTON,
Commanding,&c., Dalton, Ga.:
GENERAL: This is addressed under the supposition that you have arrived at Dalton and have assumed command of the forces at that place. The intelligence recently received respecting the condition of that army is encouraging, and induces me to hope that you will soon be able to commence active operations the enemy.
The reports concerning the battle of Missionary Ridge show that our loss in killed and wounded was not great, and that the reverse sustained is not attributable to any general demoralization or reluctance to encounter the opposing army. The brilliant stand made by the rear guard at Ringgold sustains their belief.
In a letter to me soon after the battle, General Bragg expressed his unshaken confidence in the courage and morale of the troops. He says:
We can redeem the past; let us concentrate all our available men, unite them with this gallant little army, still full of zeal and burning to redeem its lost character and prestige, hurl the whole upon the enemy, and crush him in his power and glory. I believe it practicable, and trust I may be allowed to participate in the struggle which may restore to us the character, the prestige, and the country we have just lost. This will give us confidence and restore hope to the country and the army, whilst it will do what is more important, give us subsistence, without which I do not see how we are to remain united.
The official reports made to my aide-de-camp, Colonel Ives, who has just returned from Dalton, presented a not unfavorable view of the material of the command.
The chief of ordnance reported that notwithstanding the abandonment of a considerable number of guns during the battle, there was still on hand, owing to previous large captures by our troops, as many batteries as were proportionate to the strength of the army, well supplied with horses and equipments; that a large reserve of
small-arms was in store at readily accessible points, and that the supply of ammunition was abundant. Comparatively few wagons ambulances had been lost, and sufficient remained for transportation purposes if an equal distribution were made through the different corps. The teams appeared to be generally in fair condition. The troops were tolerably provided with clothing, and a heavy invoice of shoes and blankets daily expected.
The returns from the commissary department showed that there were thirty days' provisions on hand.
Stragglers and convalescents were rapidly coming in, and the morning reports exhibited an effective total that added to the two brigades last sent from Mississippi, and the cavalry sent back by Longstreet would furnish a force perhaps exceeding in numbers that actually engaged in any battle on the Confederate side during the present war.
General Hardee telegraphed to me on the 11th instant:
The army is in good spirits, the artillery reorganized and equipped, and we are now ready to fight.
The effective condition of your new command, as thus reported to me, is a miter of much congratulation, and I assure you that nothing shall be wanting on the part of the Government to aid you in your efforts to regain possession of the territory from which we have