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[56] with two divisions of my corps to the eastern shore of Virginia, where I could find food for my men during the winter, and send supplies to the Army of Northern Virginia. I spent several months in this department, keeping the enemy close within his fortifications, and foraging with little trouble and great success. On May 1st I received orders to report to General Lee, at Fredericksburg. General Hooker had begun to throw his army across the Rappahannock, and the active campaign was opening. I left Suffolk as soon as possible, and hurried my troops forward. Passing through Richmond, I called to pay my respects to Mr. Seddon, the Secretary of War. Mr. Seddon was at the time of my visit deeply considering the critical condition of Pemberton's army at Vicksburg, around which Gen. Grant was then decisively drawing his lines. He informed me that he had in contemplation a plan for concentrating a succoring army at Jackson, Miss., under the command of General Johnston, with a view of driving Grant from before Vicksburg by a direct issue at arms. He suggested that possibly my corps might be needed to make the army strong enough to handle Grant, and asked me my views. I replied that there was a better plan, in my judgment, for relieving Vicksburg than by a direct assault upon Grant. I proposed that the army then concentrating at Jackson, Miss., be moved swiftly to Tullahoma, where General Bragg was then located with a fine army, confronting an army of about equal strength, under General Rosecranz, and that at the same time the two divisions of my corps be hurried forward to the same point. The simultaneous arrival of these reinforcements would give us a grand army at Tullahoma. With this Army General Johnston might speedily crush Rosecranz, and that he should then turn his force toward the north, and with his splendid army march through Tennessee and Kentucky, and threaten the invasion of Ohio. My idea was, that in the march through those States the army would meet no organized obstruction; would be supplied with provisions, and even reinforcements, by those friendly to our cause, and would inevitably result in drawing Grant's army from Vicksburg to look after and protect his own territory. Mr. Seddon adhered to his original views; not so much, I think, from his great confidence in them as from the difficulty of withdrawing the force suggested from General Lee's army. I was very thoroughly impressed with the practicability of the plan, however, and when I reached General Lee I laid it before him with the freedom justified by our close personal and official relations. The idea seemed to be a new one to him, but he was evidently seriously impressed with it. We discussed it over and over, and I discovered that his main objection to it was that it would, if adopted, force him to divide his army. He left no room to doubt, however, that he believed the idea of an offensive campaign was not only important but necessary.

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