In my reply I entered into detailed statements (to the satisfaction, as I thought, of the President) concerning the transportation and the artillery, showing that even if re-enforcements had been sent a movement would have been impracticable, because of still existing deficiencies in these respects.
The President, as General Bragg had done before, informed me that no definite answer could be given for several days, but that every attempt would be made by the Department to re-enforce you. In the course of the conversation the President stated that it was not commanidng an army, as without the hearty co-operation of the general its successful execution would be almost impossible. I observed that his objections whenever a plan is proposed to him, that these might be met or overruled, if the authorities so decided, to which he assented.
The day after the interview I went to Orange Court-House, and remained till the following Monday, the 18th. The next day, the 19th, General Bragg informed me that, as he had anticipated, the pressure that when circumstances warranted troops should be ordered to you; and, further, that in the mean time a brigade had been sent from Mobile, and five large regiments ordered from General Beauregard's army in exchange for five small ones, by which he hoped your army would receive an immediate accession of about 4,000 men.
I thought it best before leaving Richmond to address the following communication to General Bragg, accompanied by frequent that it be laid before the President and the Secretary of War:
RICHMOND, April 20, 1864.
GENERAL: To prevent misunderstanding and test the fact of my having properly carried out my instructions, permit me to make a recapitulation, asking to be allowed to supply deficiencies before leaving Richmond (which I expect to do this evening), if in the verbal communication I had the honor to make to the President in your presence I was not sufficiently full and explicit. My object was to explain to His Excellency:
First, that General Johnston had no intention in his correspondence with the War Department or the Government of expressing a disinclination to begin offensive operations when prepared and re-enforced; on the contrary, he was anxious to advance, being fully satisfied of its expediency and necessity, and was and had been, since assuming command of the Army of Tennessee, willing to execute with vigor and zeal, an to the best of his ability, any plan, whether his own or that of the Government; that his objections were intended to apply only to the route proposed; that he thought the selection of the plan of advance had better be deferred till everything was ready for the move; that he designed taking the initiative unless anticipated by the enemy intending to force a battle on this side of the Tennessee River, or in case he could not advance.
Second. That as a condition-preceded to his advance, an increase of transportation was absolutely necessary. Commissary supplies for a march of 130 miles through a mountainous and barren region must be carried; that after reducing the transportation of the baggage to a minimum nearly 1,000 additional wagons, which proposed; that for this the had to depend on the Quartermaster's Department; that he had, soon after reaching Georgia, made this want known, and as yet had received nothing, and that a like want existed as to artillery horses, 1,000 having been promised but not yet delivered.
Third. That to secure an advance it was advisable and essential to send the troops intended to re-enforce the army at once, not only to save time by perfecting the organization but also to defeat the enemy should he take the offensive.
Fourth. The strength of the army at Chattanooga, estimated at 80,000 last fall, is not now less. It is believed, upon the best available information, that by the return of wounded and accession of recruits the enemy is now as strong, and that McPerson with his troops (15,000) is en route for Chattanooga.