HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF EAST TENNESSEE,
New Market, February 21, 1864.
Brigadier General G. C. WHARTON, Commanding Brigade:
You will, by direction of the lieutenant-general commanding, move your whole command, baggage and all, to Bull's Gap, starting to-morrow morning. Arrived there, you will employ your force in putting the road in as good condition as possible. If your artillery is not able to make the trip by the road, Major Taylor will furnish transportation for it to Carter's Station by railroad. The horses will, in that case, go by the road.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
Morristown, February 22, 1864.
Honorable J. A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: I am moving my command back, and propose to occupy a range of hills extending from the Nola Chucky across to the Holston as our principal line, and the two streams just mentioned as our flanks. This position, I think, could be held until the road are so good as to allow the enemy to turn it by passing up the Holston toward Bristol.
The enemy, having two armies between General Johnston and myself, can concentrate his entire force against either of us, and can certainly crush mine unless I get out of his way. General Johnston has just telegraphed me that the enemy has concentrated his main force in my front, near Knoxville. My information is to the same effect, and that he is pushing his forces forward from Kentucky through Nashville; that he has stopped granting furloughs, and that his men are refusing in every instance to re-enlist.
The concentration in my front has induced me to retire to the line above mentioned. I had given orders for the retrograde movement in consequence of a telegram received from the President to send Martin's cavalry to General Johnston, and as everything was ready to move when I received his second dispatch, and as this heavy force was concentrated in my front, I thought it best to retire. A similar move on the part of the enemy must continue to throw me back as often as he makes it, unless my force is considerable augmented. In vies of our difficulties, and the general situation, I propose to endeavor to mount my entire command and move it across the mountains into Kentucky. It seems to be almost impossible for me to overcome the distance and the difficulties of supplying troops with forage and subsistence ont he route into Kentucky. If the troops march in, and if we should get there with this small force of infantry, we might be obliged to return without accomplishing a great deal. But if we can go into Kentucky as mounted infantry we can get possession of the railroad there and hold it long enough to force the enemy to leave Tennessee, and we can remain in Kentucky until General Johnston can come up and join us.
It seems almost impossible to get animals enough to mount the entire command, but be extra energy I hope that it may be done by the middle of April, and that we could by that time set out for Ken-