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[296] interrupt those of Knoxville. Such a position can only be found near Chattanooga.

The march into Middle Tennessee, via Kingston, would require all the stores we should be able to transport from Dalton., so that we could not reduce Knoxville “en route.” Would it not be easier to march into Middle Tennessee through North Alabama I believe fully, however, that Grant will be ready to act before we can be; and that, if we are ready to fight him on our own ground, we shall have a very plain course, with every chance of success. For that, we should make exactly such preparations as you indicate for the forward movement, except that I would have the troops assembled here without delay, to repel Grant's attack, and then make our own; or, should the enemy not take the initiative, do it ourselves. Our first object then should be, your proposition to bring on a battle on this side of the Tennessee.

Should not the movement from Mississippi precede any advance from this point so much as to enable those troops to cross the Tennessee before we move? Lieutenant-General Polk thought at the end of February that he could send fifteen thousand cavalry on such an expedition. Even two-thirds of that force might injure the railroads enough to compel the evacuation of Chattanooga. Certainly it could make a powerful diversion.

I apprehend no difficulty in procuring food (except meat) and forage. This department can furnish nothing. Its officers receive supplies from those of the Subsistence and Quartermaster's

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