LEXINGTON, VA., August 29, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War:
MY DEAR SIR: Your note was duly received on yesterday, dated the 18th instant, only ten days after it was written. The people here did not organize one hour too soon. On the 26th information came from Jackson that the enemy were at the Bath Springs, and calling loudly for re-enforcements. The home defenders turned out like men. Two companies were in a few hours on the road. Old men of sixty were in the ranks, and away they went to the rescue, and started, too, in the rain and mud. These, with a company of cavalry and two companies of cadets, with General Smith at their head, with four pieces of artillery, made up the army. A good state of feeling prevails here now; the country is organizing. I think there will be at least 1,000 men here for local defense. Every county ought to do likewise. It improves a man's patriotism to put a gun in his hands, and prodigiously if the enemy burns his house or steals his horses. There is nothing that purifies a patriot so much as to despoil him of his estate. All the men who are ruined are patriotic to the last; only those are unrooted who have large estates to protect. If Lincoln wants to make us an unconquerable people, let him ruin the fortunes of us all. If every county in the Confederacy would organize its population over the conscript age, and we could then get in the army all who are within it, we could put an end to this war in ninety days - at least expel all invasion of our territory. I think Congress ought to be called together. Something must be done to sustain the currency, to increase the army, and to support it in the field, and something to assure the army that while it fights our battles we are doing something to support the families of indigent soldiers while they are risking their lives and spilling their blood for the country. I wish I could see you an hour or two. I have some views I want to lay before you which I can hardly do in a letter.
The news from East Tennessee is exciting. Passengers directly from there say the enemy is approaching Kingston on the old stage road from Nashville in large force and that Buckner is preparing to meet him with 15,000 men. If he is not re-enforced we will lose East Tennessee, and it is worth to us and to our army fifty Charlestons. I suggest that Johnston's army should at once support our forces in East Tennessee. It is also said that Burnside is approaching East Tennessee from Kentucky. How would it do to combine Johnston's and Bragg's armies and without delay make an advance on the enemy? We lost all Middle Tennessee when Bragg fell back. Such a fortification at Hoover's Gap as he made at Tullohoma would have enabled him to hold Middle Tennessee. The former was not fortified, which could not have been flanked. The latter was, which could and was at the first approach of the enemy. I say to you we want some fighting generals in the Army of Tennessee. I think Bragg exhausts himself in organizing his army, and that Buckner has not developed that dogged resolution that wins victories. As sure as you are born that army is better than its commanders, and you will see my statement verified if men of more nerve are pu in its command. Can't Longstreet be sent out there? The fate of Virginia depends upon the defense of East Tennessee. If the enemy gets full possession of the mountain passes there we cannot dislodge him, and all West Virginia will lay open to him. It is greatly more important to defend it than Charleston, and more than Vicksburg ever was. The grand movement, in my opinion,