My proposition to mount my infantry for the purpose of throwing it upon the enemy' line of communication in Kentucky would be attended with much difficulty, but I am inclined to believe that it might accomplished. Three-fourths of our men claim to be able to mount themselves. I presume that nearly half of them could. I could mount a third in case of emergency, and I through it probable that I might get animals from elsewhere for the balance by reducing transportation to the lowest possible limit.
This force mounted and in Kentucky could destroy any mounted force that the enemy could bring against us, and it could avoid any infantry force that might be too strong us. If obliged to avoid one point of the enemy's railroad it could move around and occupy others, and finally force the enemy to retreat from Tennessee, and probably to the northern part of Kentucky. In this position mounted we could hardly be farther from the other armies than we are at present, inasmuch as the greater rapidity of our movements would enable us to co-operate as readily as we now can.
The proposition to unite the army of General Johnston with my forces at Maryville, Eat Tenn., for the purpose of moving into Middle Tennessee, via Sparta, would have the effect to force the enemy to withdraw his forces and concentrate near Nashville, for the purpose of giving battle. If he did fight we could force him still farther back by moving into Kentucky. If he should fight, our forces ought to be able to win a glorious victory. I apprehend some difficulty, however, in making the move so as to effect a junction of the forces in good time.
The two armies are about 200 miles apart, with the enemy holding all the country between us. As soon as either army starts to move, the enemy must get advised of it. He occupying the railroad will have great facilities for concentrating his forces against one or the other of these armies, and he would cripple the one that he might encounter so badly as to prevent the further progress of the campaign. This we must assume that he will do at all hazards, as there are no supplies in the country through which our armies would pass. The enemy might depend upon delaying us by occupying the mountain passes until our supplies are consumed and force us to retreat in that way. Both armies would be compelled to have everything in the way of forage, subsistence, ammunition, &c., from the moment of starting out, and in such quantities as to last them until they reached Sparta, without then the certainly of reaching these articles in any considerable quantities. My information leads me to fear that at Sparta we would find a great scarcity of supplies - that is, for any large army.
It occurs to me that a better plan for making a campaign into Middle Tennessee would be to re-enforce General Johnston in his present position by throwing the Mississippi troops and those from General Beauregard's department and my own to that point.
The shortest practicable route by which I could join him must be a little over 200 miles, and this through a very rough, mountainous country, and at a season of the year when we may except some delays from the mountain streams. It would probably be better, therefore, to take a quicker route and march from my present position to Greensville, S. C., and take the railroad thence to Atlanta and march up from Atlanta.
As there are two routes of railway to Atlanta I have supposed that one can be used for the speedy transportation of troops while the