from Dandridge and Strawberry Plains to cross at Knoxville and move east on south side of French Broad. I have instructed him to get ready and attack as soon as possible. With Anderson as manager of railroads we can never accumulate supplies, nor even supply full rations from day to day.
U. S. GRANT,
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
Washington, D. C., January 22, 1864.
Major General U. S. GRANT,
I inclose herewith a copy of a note* from Colonel Stager in regard to his instructions to Mr. Beckwith respecting the new cipher. Your telegram in regard to Lieutenant-Colonel Clomstock's orders to Mr. Beckwith has been submitted to the Secretary of War.
It was known that the contents of telegrams communicated by means of existing ciphers have been made public without authority. As these ciphers have been communicated to a number of persons the Department was unable to discover the delinquent individual. To obviate this difficulty a new and very complicated cipher was prepared for communications between you and the War Department, which, by the direction of the Secretary of War, was to be communicated to only two individuals, one at your headquarters and one in to me or any member of my staff. Mr. Beckwith, who was sent to your headquarters, was directed by the Secretary of War to communicate this cipher to no one. In obeying Colonel Comstock's orders he disobeyed the Secretary and has been dismissed. He should have gone to prison if Colonel Comstock had seen fit to put him there. Instead of forcing the cipher from him in violation of the orders of the War Department, Colonel Comstock should have reported the facts of the case here for the information of the Secretary of War, who takes the personal supervision and direction of the military telegraphs. On account of this cipher having been communicated to Colonel Comstock the Secretary has directed another to be prepared in its place, which is to be communicated to none, no matter what his rank, without his special authority.
The Secretary does not perceive the necessity of communicating a special cipher, intended only for telegrams to the War Department, to members of your staff any more than to my staff or to the staff officers of other generals commanding geographical departments. All your communications with others are conducted through the ordinary cipher. It was intended that Mr. Beckwith should accompany you wherever you required him, transportation being furnished for that purpose. If by any casualty he should be separated from you, communications could be kept up by the ordinary cipher till the vacancy could be supplied.
It is to be regretted that Colonel Comstock interfered with the orders of the War Department in this came. As stated in former instructions, if any telegraphic employed should not give satisfaction he should be reported, and, if there be a pressing necessity, he may be suspended. But as the corps of telegraphic operators receive
*See p. 161.