more serious the one which you have to solve here. All the recent indications are that the purpose of the enemy is to cut off all communications with Richmond as the most certain means of securing the prize they have so long sought, and their efforts to obtain which have been so successfully resisted by the army under your command. I have some hope that General Wofford will collect absentees and get recruits in Northern Georgia sufficient to constitute a force which might be effective in operating on the enemy's communications through Chattanooga. I do not know where and how General Forrest is now employed. General Cobb, I fear, will be able to do but little to increase the force alluded to as that which might be in hand under General Wooford; but in any event, if Thomas reaches the eastern border of Tennessee he can draw supplies from Kentucky, and will not be depended upon the railroad in his rear. I do not think any property has been recently sent toward Lynchburg, and will direct as recommended by you in that regard. I have been very much gratified by the success of General Johnston at Bentonville, and hope this is only the first of the good tidings we may receive from that quarter. I this a plain case for the application of the maxim with regard to the employment of a small army against a larger one. Sherman's forces, worn by long marches, and necessarily comparative ignorant of the country in which he is operating, must offer opportunities for surprises and attacks in detail. It is true delay will increase General Johnston's command, but not so much as the junction of Schofield will increase that of the enemy; and I hope General Johnston will find the opportunity to destroy, at least to a great extent, Sherman's army before he makes a junction with the other. Many persons assure me that the men who ar furloughed in mississippi ar pressing rapidly forward to join their commands, and I freely acknowledge the advantage which would be derived from the gradual retreat of our force until they could be joined by all expect re-enforcements; but if we cross the railroad line from Goldsborough to Greensborough, the devastation of the country, and the destruction of the means of transportation from the region upon which we now rely for supplies, would be a calamity only less than the destruction of the army. it would certainly be followed by the necessity to withdraw from this region of country to prevent the starvation of our armies, and the ill consequences of such withdrawal have not, to my mind,been diminished by the further confederation which I have give to the subject since our last conversation in regard to it. I scarcely know how to answer your inquiry in reference to the speedy obtaining of troops from the trans-Mississippi. You are aware of the extent to which I have urged General Smith to send troops from the west to the east side of the Mississippi River, and of the failure which attended the movement for that purpose last fall. On the 31st of January last I sent a telegram in cipher, of which the following is a copy:
Since my last letter to you reiterating the proposition for you to send such force as you could spare to the east side of the Mississippi River, the enemy has continued to withdraw troops from the west to the east, and is now moving a large force from Tennessee to Virginia. Under these circumstances, i think it advisable that you should be charged with military operations on both banks of the Mississippi River, and that you should endeavor as promptly as possible to cross that river with as large a force as may be prudently withdrawn from your present department. Please answer immediately, that I may know what to except.
No answer has been received. You can send any additional order or instructions which you may deem proper. My belief is that the efficient if not the only mode of getting over any considerable portion of troops from the trans-Mississippi would be to send a commander,