DALTON, GA., March 6, 1864.
Colonel Harrison has been ordered to return to East Tennessee. He takes with him the men of his brigade on duty in the vicinity of Rome. General Johnston wishes you to take all steps necessary in the premises.
CONFIDENTIAL.] HDQRS. REENEVILLE, EAST TENN., March 7, 1864.
General G. T. BEAUREGARD,
Commanding South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida:
GENERAL: It seems to be very necessary that we should advance into Kentucky with the armies in the West, and it is a most difficult problem to ascertain the practical means of doing so. The most serious difficulty is the scarcity of forage and subsistence stores throughout the State of Tennessee, and particularly the portion through which our armies must pass.
General Johnston can hardly get around the enemy by passing to the west of Chattanooga, for the reason that the distance to be overcome by his army before he can get supplies is too great. He cannot pass it by the east and north for the same reason, and in addition his flank and rear would be exposed from the moment that he left Dalton.
The trouble on his route is that the railroad cannot supply General Lee's army and the small force that I now have here. This force of itself in its present organization cannot make the move without great danger of being met and overcome by accumulated numbers.
The only means left us, in my judgment, is to mount my command and throw it upon the railroad between Nashville and Louisville. We could contend against any mounted force that the enemy could brig against us, and in all probability destroy it. If the enemy's army is probably break him up by destroying his trains, &c.
This proposition has one very serious objection, which is the difficultly of getting animals to mount our men. I write this to ask if you cannot, by reducing your transportation to the lowest practical point, furnish us with 2,000 horses and mules. I think that I would prefer mules for mounted infantry.
I can see no other practical way by which we can move at all, and if the enemy continues to hold his present lines we will soon be obliged to abandon ours for want of supplies. Besides, the Northern people will gain more confidence and the authorities more power as long as they maintain their positions as they now do.
Our troops are in fine condition and in fine spirits and eager for a reasonable opportunity, but if they are allowed to remain in their present positions and are borough down to half rations, as they soon must be if we remain idle, I fear that we may become seriously demoralized, and of course the enemy, now demoralized, will gain morale, courage, and confidence.