DALTON, GA., April 2, 1864.
General S. COOPER:
I beg that other troops than General Clanton's may replace General Roddey. Great discontent has been known to exist among them, which made it imprudent to mix with other Alabama troops. I recommend that they go to the Atlantic coast.
J. E. JOHNSTON,
DALTON, April 2, 1864.
GENERAL: I have just been informed by General Cooper by telegraph that orders just issued send Brigadier-General Roddey to his former position and Brigadier-General Clanton to replace him here. I have suggested, in reply by telegraph, that the latter be sent with his troops to the Atlantic coast. I recommend some locality where Alabama troops will not be encountered. You are aware of the discovery, early in the winter, of a secret society in that brigade.* It is unlikely that it was entirely suppressed, especially as it is well known to exist in the part of Alabama in which General Clanton has been stationed recently. Escaped prisoners report that the signs of this society are known in the "Army of the Cumberland." I think it dangerous to this army, therefore, to bring into it troops which I regard as so infected. Let me urge, therefore, most respectfully, that General Roddey's brigade be replaced by other troops.
I ordered Brigadier-General Roddey's brigade to the army because our cavalry with it was far too weak to resist that of the enemy. Of the eight brigades which you had more than five, as Major-General Wheeler inform me, were detached with Lieutenant-General Longstreet. The horses of the remaining force were in such condition from hard service in a barren country that it has been necessary to keep about one-third of it in the rear to recruit, the brigades alternating. This leaves us, exclusive of General Roddey's brigade, about 1,600 effective cavalry.
Major-General Martin's division amounts to but 1,500 men, according to his report, instead of 3,000, as you supposed, two-fifths being unarmed. From the verbal reports of General Wheeler and himself, it will be five or six weeks before his horses are fit for service. General Wheeler thinks that he has good information that the horses of the main Federal cavalry force were sent to Kentucky to winter.
In a letter to the President, dated about the end of February, Lieutenant-General Polk estimates his cavalry force for a movement into Middle Tennessee at 15,000. Brigadier-General Roddey's, including the regiment left at Tuscumbia, is 2,000. The enemy has not a strong force in Alabama, Mississippi, and West Tennessee. The transfer in question leaves me about 1,600 effective cavalry, with a powerful army in my front, a very long front to watch, and communications to guard which the enemy may reach by several lateral routes.
Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. E. JOHNSTON,
* See Vol. XXVI, Part II, p. 548.