so that should the enemy assume the initiative we might be able promptly to defeat him on this side of the Tennessee River, where the results of a victory would be so much more favorable to us and those of defeat so much less disastrous than if the battle were fought north of the river.
Fourth. That the strength of the enemy in your front was supposed, from the best information, to be not less than that which he fought the battle of Missionary Ridge (about 80,000), and in addition McPherson's corps (15,000); that General Polk's infantry and artillery not being immediately needed in his department, might, as well as the larger portion of the garrison of Mobile, be employed in aiding you to hold your position.
Fifth. That the cavalry force under your command was much weaker and more inefficient than was represented.
Understanding that General Bragg was the proper medium of communicating with the President, I immediately informed him on Wednesday, the 13th, why I had been sent to Richmond,a nd requested him to secure an interview. The general gave me every aid in his power. Before seeing the President I had a full and free conversation with him. He manifested every disposition to have your army properly re-enforced, and you otherwise put in a condition to move; the choice of routes being as I understood to be, left entirely to your discretion. At the same time he frankly declared his apprehension that in consequence of Longstreet's movements, the junction of the pressure in Virginia and North Carolina, caused by the reported concentration and movements of the enemy, that little could stated that he was desirous to have the matter settled, and with this feeling asked a categorical answer to the proposition of your assuming the offensive with an increase of 15,000 infantry and artillery from the departments of South Carolina and Mississippi to your present force, and that it was important that this answer be given in my interview the President next day.
Unwilling without further instructions to assume the grave responsibility of answering this question, I at once sent a telegraphic message to you on this subject, but received no reply before seeing the President. After a careful consideration of my instruction,s I gave to this proposition a decided affirmative answer as well to General Bragg as to the President.
The President received me courteously and listened with apparent interest to the different statements I made, entering into details in respect to the cavalry force, transportation,a nd artillery horses. He expressed his regrets that offensive movements in your army had not been made in time to have prevented the reported preparations for a formidable attack in Virginia and North Carolina, having for its object the capture of Richmond, stating that to have prevented this was one of the important objects for threatening movements by your army,a nd that though the primary object had failed, yet it was still very important that offensive operations be assumed, and that all possible re-enforcements should be at once sent, though it was thought inexpedient ot divest General Polk's department, containing so much provision, of all means of defense,a nd that he feared General Lee would provision, of all means of defense, and that he feared General Lee would require all the aired to be derived for the present form Beauregard's army.