greatly exaggerated, inasmuch as I am not only unwilling but unable to believe that a large army of our people have surrendered without a desperate effort to cut their way through investing forces, whatever may have been their numbers, and to endeavor to make a junction with other divisions of the army. But in the absence of that exact information which can only be afforded by official reports it would be premature to pass judgment, and my own is reserved, as I trust yours will be, until that information is received. In the meantime strenuous efforts have been made to throw forward re-enforcements to the armies at the positions threatened, and I cannot doubt that the bitter disappointments we have borne, by nerving the people to still greater exertions, will speedily secure results more accordant with our just expectation and as favorable to our cause as those which marked the earlier periods of the war. The reports of the Secretaries of War and the Navy will exhibit the mass of resources for the conduct of the war which we have been enabled to accumulate notwithstanding the very serious difficulties against which we have contended. They afford the cheering hope that our resources, limited as they were at the beginning of the contest, will during its progress become developed to such an extent as fully to meet our future wants.
The policy of enlistment for short terms, against which I have steadily contended from the commencement of the war, has, in my judgment, contributed in no immaterial degree to the recent reverses which we have suffered, and even now renders it difficult to furnish you an accurate statement of the Army. When the war first broke out many of our people could with difficult be persuaded that it would be long or serious. It was not deemed possible that anything so insane as a persistent attempt to subjugate these States could be made, still less that the delusion would so far prevail as to give to the war the vast proportions which it has assumed. The people, incredulous of a long war, were naturally averse to long enlistments, and the early legislation of Congress rendered it impracticable to obtain volunteers for a great period than twelve months. Now that it has become probable that the war will be continued through a series of years, our high-spirited and gallant soldiers, while generally re-enlisting, are, from the fact of having entered the service for a short term, compelled in many instances to go home to make the necessary arrangements for their families during their prolonged absence. The quotas of new regiments for the war, called for from the different States, are in rapid progress of organization. The whole body of new levies and re-enlisted men will probably by ready in the ranks within the next thirty days, but in the meantime it is exceedingly difficult to give an accurate states of the number of our forces in the field. They may, in general terms, by stated at 400 regiments of infantry, with proportionate force of cavalry and artillery, the details of which will be shown by the report of the Secretary of War. * I deem it proper to advert to the fact that he process of furloughs and re-enlistment in progress for the last month had so far disorganized and weakened our forces as to impair our ability for successful defense, but I heartily congratulate you that this evil, which I had foreseen and was powerless to prevent, may now be said to be substantially at an end, and that we shall not again during the war be exposed to seeing our strength diminished by this fruitful cause of disaster-short enlistments.
*See Benjamin to Davis, p. 955.