TUNNEL HILL, GA.,
March 16, 1864.
General J. E. JOHNSTON:
DEAR GENERAL: On the receipt of your letter I sent a note to 3 officers who were in General Wharton's division at the time the false order was written by him or by his sanction, and to which you referred. I called the attention of these officers to the forget order and required them to state what they recollected regarding the circumstances and facts connected with the matter. These officers each made their statements, neither of them knowing that another statement was being made, as they were in different parts of the command. Their statements differ on minor points, but all go to show that the order was written and that it had a bad effect. the facts, as they came to me at the time, were as follows: On the 9th of December last, with the sanction of General Hardee, I ordered General Wharton to move to a point south of Coosa River to recruit, rest, and instruct his command. General Wharton delayed starting with his command for two days. On the receipt of my order to move to the rear an order was written and laid upon the table of his adjutant's office order purported to come from me, and directed that Wharton's command should commence picketing on the left of our army and run a line of pickets over Lookout Mountain to the Tennessee River.
Such a disposition would of course have destroyed the horses of the command, as it would have been impossible for them to have been fed.
The command was of course dissatisfied, and abused me as the author of the order, at the same time severely criticizing my judgment in disposing of cavalry. General Wharton came to me and in a laughing way remarked that he got up a joke by having an order published ordering his command to picket on the mountain in order to see how the command would take it.
I fear, however, that he did not mention it to me until he had become convinced that the matter was so public that I would hear of it by other means.
The truth is, General Wharton allowed his ambition to completely turn his head, as his friend in Congress had assured him that he should command the cavalry of this army, he being one of those politicians (not statesman) who looked upon things we would consider dishonorable as legitimate tricks, and he forgot that he was an officer instead of a frontier political trickster. This state of things has been going on for some time, the object appearing to be to convince his command that he was their friend, while I was not, and also that he was superior as an officer, &c. I regret to state that such things are very contagious and spread to the officers, who sought to cover their own delinquencies by reflecting falsely upon their superior. I have taken hold of the matter very firmly, and am holding all such officers to a strict account for their conduct, both as officers and honorable men, and it is already having a good effect. I am determined to root out the last vesture of such dealing in this command or fall in the attempt to accomplish this object. I am getting the command to understand the matter, and everything is going on smoothly. i am pleased to state that my efforts to improve and instruct my command are appreciate by both privates and officers, and notwithstanding the misrepresentation made by the disorganizers, they have failed to deprive me of the esteem of my