would have a very beneficial effect. It would almost certainly greatly increase the number of these troops by making recruiting practicable, and would induce those now in service to revolunteer.
The assignment of Major-General Breckinridge to the command of Western Virginia would, I think, suggest the making the concentration near the eastern or southeastern border of Kentucky. The only difficulty attending this measure is the necessity in some cases of replacing the Kentucky troops removed by others. That would be the case in this army, in which there is a Kentucky brigade of infantry equal to any in our service. Major-General Breckinridge wishes that it should be transferred to his new command. In a telegram to the President this morning [February 11*] I expressed my consent to the measure, provided an equivalent in value be given to this army, which I have reported too weak for the object to be accomplished by it.
I hope, however, that the advantages to be gained by the concentration of the Kentucky troops may be acquired not only without weakening the Army of Tennessee but while it is strengthened. In assenting to General Breckinridge's position, I considered it a part of the measure you have explained.
I had written so far when the President's telegram instructing me to assist Lieutenant-General Polk against the U. S. Army, reported to be moving toward Mobile, was received.+ Although the parts of the dispatch in cipher cannot be deciphered, the other part shows the President's wish. Understanding the direction to aid Lieutenant-General Polk as much as I can to mean as much I can while fulfilling the object for which I believe this army to be here, I have, by telegraph, expressed to His Excellency the opinion that I cannot effectually re-enforce General Polk without making this army too weak to resist an advance of the enemy; so that we cannot aid General Polk without leaving the way into Georgia open. Not being able to do both I am waiting for further instructions.
Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. E. JOHNSTON,
P. S.- From the manner in which Major-General Lee with 2,500 cavalry impeded Sherman's march near Tuscumbia, I think that with 4,000 or 5,000 he could so much retard this column marching toward Mobile as to turn it, as he did Sherman, whom be compelled to cross the Tennessee below the Muscle Shoals instead of at Decatur. There must be more than 10,000 cavalry in that department.
J. E. J.
February 12, 1864.
Brigadier General G. B. HODGE,
Proceed with your brigade immediately to join General J. Longstreet at Morristown, tenn.
Adjutant and Inspector General.
* See p. 714.
+ See Davis to Johnston, February 11, p. 716.