gation I would not be able to bring proof to sustain the statement contained in my communication. I therefore procure the affidavit of Mr. McCullough on the 17th day of July, and would furnish you with a copy of it, but it, with all the other original papers relating to these matters, was purloined out of my pocket since my arrival at this place.
My dear sir, I hope you will pardon my forcing this matter on your attention, but I look upon it as involving the most important interests of the service. The concentrated power which the authority to appoint officers has given the commanding general has produced such subserviency, and I may say fear, that already I see evidences of shrinking on the part of those who at first were very loud in denouncing the course of the command, and the petty annoyances to which I have been subjected render my situation anything but agreeable. Within the past three days I have been ordered from Rogersville, Tenn., a distance of seventy miles, to report to this place. On my arrival I find that the object of ordering me here is to send me to Gladesville, Va., to inspect Prentice's battalion. I am taken away from the command of a brigade and department where there was the most constant need of vigilant exertion, without leaving a field officer to command in my absence, to ride 120 miles to inspect a battalion, when Captain Allen, the inspector-general, is off on mere nominal orders, traveling about the South, and Lieutenant Tyler, the assistant inspector is in Abingdon, with nothing to do. I would also state that I am not relieved from duty in East Tennessee because of my neglect. On the contrary, I had exerted myself so vigorously while on duty there to collect together the wandering and marauding bodies of independent scouts, who had been almost as great terror to our own people as the approach of the enemy, that the whole community offered to send a petition to the commanding general to allow me to remain. You must really excuse this personal explanation which the circumstances of the case render necessary. While I do not object to any duty that my superior officers have a right to order me to, yet I do object to a duty which I know is given me as a kind of punishment.
The conduct of our command in Kentucky is to be deeply regretted, not only for the discredit which it brought to our arms, but I feel that in the disaster which was brought on us by converting the expedition into one of plunder and robbery we lost the greatest political opportunity which has yet been offered in Kentucky. I have made five raids through the State since the beginning of the war, and I have never seen so great a change in a whole people as seemed to have taken place since I was there last. Men who six months ago would have offered rewards for our capture were out to greet us and say God speed. Recruits were flocking to us every hour, and but for the reckless mismanagement of the whole expedition, which was directly the result of our unlicensed and thieving course, we would this day have been in Kentucky with an army of 20,000 men, and Sherman would have been fleeing before our army in Georgia. The State would have stood self-redeemed before the world. You may think it an enthusiastic opinion, but I assure you it is uttered with calm earnestness. We entered the State with 2,600 good men, and we left it with about 700 scattered fugitives [whereas, if General M. had not gone away with Second Brigade from Mount Sterling to avoid the investigation of the robbery there, we would, instead of losing 51 good men killed and 83 severely wounded at that place, have annihilated the whole regular force of*] the enemy, and
*In the original the portion here embraced in brackets is partially erased, or marked out, but is needed to give sense to the concluding part of the letter.