readily mount themselves, bring out many other recruits, and at the same time, by a raid into the State, procure and bring back much stock, and many horses, mules,&c. The advocates of the plan are sanguine that they could thus raise the force to 6,000 or 8,000 men in a very short time.
Lastly, they insist the force, having been previously veteran infantry, being all from childhood trained to horsemanship, would be the most effective possible force, combining the qualities of both infantry and cavalry.
It is evident, on the other hand, that this would be a mischievous precedent, tending to produce much dissatisfaction among other corps of infantry when he men would wish to change their branch of service, and would thus weaken the least acceptable, but most effective portion of our armies. Besides, if such a spirit of desertion be likely to exist, it may be well doubted whether the approach of these men to the vicinity of their homes and within their own State might not lose us more men than it gained. I have great doubt and a disinclination to comply, but it may be fore advisable to give the chance, which seems so much coveted, of again endeavoring to arouse Kentucky.
I should be much pleased if you would confer with General Breckinridge and give your consideration to the subject, and then favor me with your conclusions and counsel in the matter. I should then feel better prepared to arrive at a true solution of the question.
Very truly, yours,
JAMES S. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.
RICHMOND, December 29, 1863.
General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON,
MY DEAR GENERAL: We are all greatly rejoiced to know that you are in command of the Army of Tennessee.
I discover from my correspondence you posses the entire confidence of this whole country as you do mine. I know you have had some serious annoyances heretofore, and have sympathized with you in your troubles, but I am glad to know they are at an end and look forward to your future career as one of great usefulness to your country and of increased reputation to yourself.
My own opinion is, you acted exactly right in your intercourse with General Bragg, and thought at the time I thought you ought to have assumed command of the army, so anxious was I for you to be in that position, I now see the delicacy of your position forbade your doing otherwise than you did. It was not only right but highly honorable.
Now, general, you are looked to by us all to redeem Tennessee, and whoever does that great service will, in my opinion, have the honor of putting an end to the war. You could in Tennessee increase your army 30,000 men, and at least 20,000 in Kentucky. Such at least is the testimony of the Kentuckians here. That being done, the enemy will not send another army to invade Tennessee. I do not believe they can raise another. Of the draft for 300,000 men, only 50,000 were actually sent to the army, and many of these have deserted.