may interfere with the organization of your army, and deems it preferable to refer the matter to your discretion; at the same time commending the policy of restoring to General Morgan every organization which has at any time belonged to his command, where such action can with any propriety be taken.
The Secretary of War desires to know what organized companies, battalions, and regiments have been attached to General Morgan's command, and would be pleased to receive a report of whatever action you may deem it best to take in this matter.
Very respectfully, general, your obedient servant,
Adjutant and Inspector-General.
DALTON, January 23, 1864.
Mr. PRESIDENT: I have had the honor to receive the letter you wrote to me on the 14th instant.
Permit me to suggest that should Mobile be threatened, the garrison can be re-enforced more promptly from Mississippi than from this army, and that troops can better be spared from that department than from this army, because offensive movements by infantry are not to be apprehended, on account of the enemy's weakness and the condition of the country. Should Mobile be invested we should require an army in the field to relieve it, either by attacking the besieging army or cutting off its supplies. I should suppose that at any time in the next two months Lieutenant-General Polk could increase the garrison sufficiently without danger to Mississippi. It seems to me, on the contrary, that it would be dangerous to weaken our force here. I need not say, however, that your wishes shall be promptly executed.
Lieutenant-General Longstreet tells me that he has driven the enemy back to Knoxville and that if the communication between that place and Chattanooga is cut they will be compelled to abandon it. The want of cavalry and difficulty of supplying the troops even here prevents me from moving nearer to the Tennessee. I fear, however, that the country east and south of Knoxville contains provision and forage enough to supply the enemy there for months. To help me in the execution of General Longstreet's proposition, I have directed Brigadier-General Roddey, who is near Tuscumbia with a force said to amount to at least 3,000 men, to leave his best colonel there with his regiment and join me with the rest of his brigade.
I fear that the had service our cavalry is performing in East Tennessee may make it unfit for the field when the spring opens. Should it be necessary to take most of these troops to help in forming a relieving army for Mobile, a strong body of good cavalry could delay the march of an invading army on this route for several weeks, if not prevent it.
The management of the railroad is much improved since my last letter; that is to say, we are much better supplied. We have now on hand provision and forage (corn) for several days. Our horses and mules are in very poor condition, however, from the effect of cold weather, short allowance of corn, and want of long forage, all that within reach having been exhausted in December. Our prospects are better for the future, the chief quartermaster thinks.