HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
Stevenson, August 22, 1863.
To His Excellency the PRESIDENT:
I thank you for your kind reply [to] my unofficial letter of the 1st instant. Permit me to assure you that I am not, and have not been, touched with any of that official pride which desires to have its own way. It has been aprinciple and a characteristic of my life to take advice and learn both from superiors and inferiors. When great interests are confided to my care this principle becomes even mor eimperative. On the question of moving against Bragg, every division and corps commander gave his written opinion adversely to an immediate or early move at the time it was imminent. I waited only to make due preparation of the force I had to win a victory and reap its fruits. I was satisfied that, while it did not increase Bragg's strenght, it diminished the danger of his further re-enforcing Johnston, as he could readily have done, with the Cumberland Mountains, the Tennessee River, and bridges destroyed and roads obstructed between us. If, as you put it, wecould better fight Bragg with his diminished numbers, what harm to wait till we were ready to win and pursue the victory? You think Johnston was freed by the fall of Vicksburg. Was not Bragg set free by the evacuation of Middle Tennessee? You think we ought to have prevented Bragg from re-enforcing Johnston. Why cannot Grant keep Johnstaon from re-enforcing Bragg? Has he not a nearer more rolling-stock than we have here? But I am sure when you consider we have but a single line of railroad from Louisville; that we are 300 miles from that base; that we have crossed by three days' march the formidable barrier of the Cumberland Mountains; that we have in front a swift river from 500 to 800 yards wide, and seventy miles of mountains in front of us to reach the fertile regions of Northern Georgia, you see that few armies have been called upon to attempt a more arduous campaign.
Thanking you for your kindness, may I ask you, when impulsive men suppose me querulous, to believe I am only straightforward and in earnest, and that you may always rely upon my using my utmost efforts to do what is best for our country and the lives and honor of the soldiers of my command.
I remain, very respectfully,
W. S. ROSECRANS,
SPRINGFIELD, ILL., August 24, 1863.
His Excellency A. LINCOLN,
President of the United States:
You kind favor, by the hands of Mr. Greene, is received.* Please accept my grateful acknowledgements for the friendly assurances it contains. If my humble efforts in behalf of the country have in any degree met your approbation I am rejoiced. I only regret that I am debarred the privilege of continuing them in the same form. Feeling that I have done my duty, I shrink from no charges that General Grant may prefer. On the contrary, in my communication of the 23rd of June, ultimo, I challenged investigation both of his and my conduct, "commencing with Belmont and terminating with Vicksburg." I only ask in that connection for an impartial court. Such investigation would
*See August 12, p. 437.