All the applications for any one regiment must be made at the same time.
General Orders, No. 3, do not promise to officers fourteen days at home nor any leave of absence at all, except at the discretion of the commanding general; each case to be determined on its merits.
By command of Lieutenant-General Polk:
THOS. M. JACK,
DALTON, January 15, 1864.
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS,
Mr. PRESIDENT: My recent telegrams to you have shown not only that we cannot hope soon to assume the offensive from this position, but that we are in danger of being forced back from it by the want of food and forage, especially the latter. Since my arrival very little long forage has been received, and nothing like full rations of corn, and that weevil-eaten. The officer commanding the artillery of a division which I inspected to-day reported that his horses had but 13 pounds each of very bad corn in the last three days. Of the four brigades I inspected to-day, two cannot march for want of shoes. We are not receiving enough to supply the consumption.
I have directed that half the artillery shall be encamped on the Etowah, with all the wagons not required here for camp service.
Major-General Wheeler informs me that five and a half of the eight brigades of cavalry belonging to the Army of Tennessee are with General Longstreet. I have placed two-thirds of that remaining with this army to the southwest of Rome, not only to put the horses in condition for a campaign but in the hope of making cavalry capable of fighting in battle. If General Longstreet has no further use for the cavalry of this army which is with his, I should very much like to have it here, for rest, refitting, and, above all, instruction.
It seems to me that there are two routes by which we might advance into Middle Tennessee from our present bace, whenever this State road is so managed as to enable us to accumulate supplies sufficient for the enterprise, and we have a sufficient force. The first from Rome, via Huntsville, crossing the Tennessee near Gunter's Landing. By it we should turn the Cumberland Mountains. The other, that by which General Bragg left Tennessee, would be very difficult, and would require immense means. We should have either to expose ourselves to an army in Chattanooga, while passing the river, or besiege that fortress. It is certain that we cannot make such sieges. Either of these routes, through barren and mountainous tracts, would require great supply trains. By General Leadbetter's estimate, the equipage of one brigade over the Tennessee would require 150 wagons.
Should the enemy attempt to penetrate to Atlanta, and we be able to beat him and have then ready the means of marching across the Cumberland Mountains, as well as crossing the Tennessee, the offensive would be easy.
If East Tennessee can furnish provision and forage for the march thence into Middle Tennessee, this army might join Longstreet for that enterprise. Two thousand or 3,000 cavalry could prevent a hostile army from reaching Atlanta in less than a month.