RICHMOND, VA., January 26, 1864.
General J. E. JOHNSTON,
Commanding, &c., Dalton, Ga.:
GENERAL: The President desires me to communicate to you the substance of various applications and suggestions, in regard to organization of the Kentucky troops, which he has received at various times from members of Congress and others from Kentucky, for your consideration and such action as you may think the subject demands. In view of the condition of the military service, as connected with the organization of the Kentucky troops, some suggestions are made which it is thought may render these troops more effective. At present they are dispersed in small bodies with the different armies in the West and Southwest. The terms of service for which they engaged are drawing to a close. There does not exist amongst them any desire to abandon the cause in which they so heartily embarked, but there does exist a strong wish amongst the infantry to change the character of their service.
It is an opinion founded upon all the facts within reach, that great benefit would result to the country by organizing these troops in a State organization and in mounting them as far as it can be done.
Some of the result anticipated from such an organization are as follows:
First. It would gratify a natural desire existing among soldiers for a change, and would go far toward satisfying their craving to see their homes; for next to the enjoyment of their own firesides would be the satisfaction of a camp home amongst their own exiled people.
Second. The concentration of the Kentuckians would be an inducement to call together at once from all parts of the Confederacy all stragglers and people from the State not yet attached to military organizations. It would also be an inducement held out to Southern may yet remaining in Kentucky to enlist in the organization. The benefits resulting from such a concentration would, it is believed, far outweigh the temptations held out to individuals to leave the ranks.
Third. The concentration of these troops in the vicinity of Kentucky in a position to act in concert with any general movement of the Western army would have a most beneficial result. It is thought by the opening of the spring campaign there could be assembled in East Tennessee, or such other position as may be deemed best, about 8,000 effective Kentuckians. Combining their movements with those of the main army, they could enter Kentucky. Most of them are veteran troops. Fighting as infantry, they would be numerous enough and sufficiently effective to drive before them any cavalry force likely to be sent against them. The result would be either that they would occupy the center of the State, collect supplies and gather strength, and interrupt the enemy's communications, or that heavy infantry detachments must be sent from the enemy's main army to drive them from the State. In the latter event, it will prove a legitimate military diversion when a small detachment will be enabled to occupy the attention of a large force of the enemy, and to that extent lighten the task of the main army.
Fourth. The political result of such an organization would be highly favorable. The hopes of the Southern sympathizers in the