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Doc. 33.-General Garfield's letter to General Rosecrans.

headquarters Department Cumberland, Murfreesboroa, June 12, 1863.
General: In your confidential letter of the eighth instant to the Corps and Division Commanders and Generals of cavalry of this army, [318] there were substantially five questions propounded for their consideration and answer, viz.:--

1. Has the enemy in our front been materially weakened by detachments to Johnson or elsewhere?

2. Can this army advance on him at this time with reasonable chances of fighting a great and successful battle P

3. Do you think an advance of our army at present likely to prevent additional reenforcements being sent against General Grant by the enemy in our front?

4. Do you think an immediate advance of this army advisable?

5. Do you think an early advance advisable?

Many of.these answers are not categorical, and cannot be clearly set down either as affirmative or negative; especially in answer to the first question there is much indefiniteness, resulting from the difference of judgment as to how great a detachment could be considered a “material reduction” of Bragg's strength. For example, one officer thinks it has been reduced ten thousand, but not “materially weakened.”

The answers to the second question are modified in some instances by the opinion that the rebels will fall back behind the Tennessee River, and thus no battle can be fought, either successful or unsuccessful.

So far as these opinions can be stated in tabular form, they will stand thus:--

Answer to first question,6 “Yes.” 11 “No.”
Answer to second question,2 “Yes.” 11 “No.”
Answer to third question,4 “Yes.” 10 “No.”
Answer to fourth question,0 “Yes.” 15 “No.”
Answer to fifth question,0 “Yes.” 2 “No.”

On the fifth question, three gave it as their opinion that this *army ought to advance as soon as Vicksburg falls, should that event happen.

The following is a summary of the reasons assigned why we should not, at this time, advance upon the enemy :--

1. With Hooker's army defeated, and Grant's bending all its energies in a yet undecided struggle, it is bad policy to risk our only reserve army to the chances of a general engagement. A failure here would have most disastrous effects on our lines of communication, and on politics in the loyal states.

2. We should be compelled to fight the enemy on his own ground, or follow him in a fruitless stern chase, or, if we attempted to outflank him and turn his position, we should expose our line of communication, and run the risk of being pushed back into a rough country, well known to the enemy and little known to ourselves.

3. In case the enemy should fall back without accepting battle, he could make our advance very slow, and, with a comparatively small force posted in the gaps of the mountains, could hold us back while he crossed the Tennessee River, where he would be measurably secure and free to send reenforcements to Johnson. His forces in East Tennessee could seriously harass our left flank and constantly disturb our communications.

4. The withdrawal of Burnside's Ninth army corps deprives us of an important reserve and flank protection, thus increasing the difficulty of an advance.

5. General Hurlburt has sent the most of his forces away to General Grant, thus leaving West Tennessee uncovered, and laying our right flank and rear open to raids of the enemy.

The following incidental opinions are expressed:--

1. One officer thinks it probable that the enemy has been strengthened rather than weakened, and that he would have a reasonable prospect of victory in a general battle.

2. One officer believes the result of a general battle would be doubtful, a victory barren, and a defeat most disastrous.

3. Three officers believe that an advance would bring on a general engagement. Three believe it would not.

4. Two officers express the opinion that the chances of success in a general battle are nearly equal.

5. One officer expresses the belief that our army has reached its maximum strength and efficiency, and that inactivity will seriously impair its effectiveness.

6. Two officers say that an increase of our cavalry, by about six thousand men, would materially change the aspect of our affairs and give us a decided advantage.

In addition to the above summary, I have the honor to submit an estimate of the strength of Bragg's army, gathered from all the data I have been able to obtain, including the estimate of the General commanding in his official report of the battle of Stone River; facts gathered from prisoners, deserters, scouts, and refugees, and from rebel newspapers.

After the battle he consolidated many of his decimated regiments and irregular organizations, and at the time of his sending reenforcements to Johnson his army had reached its greatest effective strength. It consisted of five divisions of infantry, composed of ninety-four regiments, and two independent battalions of sharpshooters — say ninety-five regiments.

By a law of the Confederate Congress, regiments are consolidated when their effective strength falls below two hundred and fifty. Even the regiments formed by such consolidation (which may reasonably be regarded as the fullest) must fall below five hundred men; I am satisfied that four hundred is a large estimate of the average strength. The force would then be,--

Infantry, 95 regiments,400 each,38,000
Cavalry, 35 regiments, say500 each,17,500
Artillery, 26 batteries, say100 each,2,600

This force has been reduced by detachments to Johnson. It is as well known as we can ever expect to ascertain such facts, that three brigades have gone from McCown's division and two or three from Breckinridge's; say two. It is clear [319] that there are now but four infantry divisions in Bragg's army — the fourth being composed of fragments of McCown's and Breckinridge's divisions, and must be much smaller than the average. Deducting the five brigades, and supposing them composed of only four regiments each, which is below the general average, it gives an infantry reduction of twenty regiments, four hundred each,--eight thousand; leaving a remainder of thirty thousand

It is clearly ascertained that at least two brigades of cavalry have been sent from Van Dorn's command to Mississippi, and it is asserted in the “Chattanooga rebel,” of June eleventh, that General Morgan's command has been permanently detached and sent to Eastern Kentucky. It is not certainly known how large his division is, but it is known to contain at least two brigades. Taking this minimum as the fact, and we have a reduction of four brigades. Taking the lowest estimate, four regiments to the brigade, and we have a reduction by detachment of sixteen regiments, five hundred each, leaving his present effective cavalry force nine thousand five hundred. With the nine brigades of the two arms thus detached, it will be safe to say there have gone six batteries, eighty men each: four hundred and eighty; leaving him twenty batteries, two thousand one hundred and twenty, making a total reduction of sixteen thousand four hundred and eighty, leaving, of the three arms, a total of forty-one thousand six hundred and eighty. In this estimate I have placed all doubts in Bragg's favor, and I have no doubt it is considerably beyond the truth. General Sheridan, who has taken great pains to collect evidence on this point, places it considerably below these figures; but assuming these to be correct, and granting what is still more improbable, that Bragg would abandon all his rear posts, and entirely neglect his communications, and could bring his last man into battle, I next ask, What have we to oppose to him?

The last official report of effective strength of this army, now on file in the office of the Assistant Adjutant-General, is dated June eleventh, instant, and shows that we have in this department, omitting all officers and enlisted men attached to department, corps, division, and brigade headquarters,--

First, infantry, one hundred and seventy-three regiments, ten battalions sharpshooters, four pioneers, one regiment engineers and mechanics, with a total effective strength of seventy thousand nine hundred and eighteen.

Second, cavalry, twenty-seven regiments, one unattached company: eleven thousand eight hundred and thirteen.

Third, forty-seven and a half batteries field artillery, consisting of two hundred and ninety-two guns, and five thousand and sixty-nine men; making a grand total of eighty-seven thousand eight hundred: or, leaving out all commissioned officers, this army represents eighty-two thousand seven hundred and sixty-seven bayonets and sabres.

This report does not include the Fifth Iowa cavalry, six hundred strong, lately armed, nor the First Wisconsin cavalry, nor Coburn's brigade of infantry, now arriving, nor the two thousand three hundred and ninety-four convalescents now on light duty in Fortress Rosecrans.

There are detached from this force as follows:--

At Gallatin,969
At Carthage,1,149
At Fort Donelson,1,495
At Clarkesville,1,138
At Nashville,7,292
At Franklin,900
At Loverane,2,117

With these posts as they are, and leaving two thousand five hundred efficient men, in addition to the two thousand three hundred and ninety-four convalescents, to hold the works at this place, there will be left sixty-five thousand one hundred and thirty-seven bayonets and sabres to throw against Bragg's forty-one thousand six hundred and eighty.

I beg leave also to submit the following considerations:--

1. Bragg's army is now weaker than it has been since the battle, or is likely to be again for the present, while our army has reached its maximum strength, and we have no right to expect further reenforcements for several months, if at all.

2. Whatever be the result at Vicksburg, the determination of its fate will give large reenforcements to Bragg. If Grant is successful, his army will require many weeks to recover from the shock and strain of his late campaign, while Johnson will send back to Bragg a force sufficient to insure the safety of Tennessee. If Grant fails, the same result will inevitably follow, so far as Bragg's army is concerned. No man can affirm with certainty the result of any battle, however great the disparity in numbers,--such results are in the hand of God. But viewing the question in the light of human calculation, I refuse to entertain a doubt that this army, which in January last defeated Bragg's superior numbers, can overwhelm his greatly inferior force. The most unfavorable course for us that Bragg could take would be to fall back without giving us battle. But this would be very disastrous to him, besides the loss of material of war and the abandonment of the rich and abundant harvest now nearly ripe in Central Tennessee. He would lose heavily by desertion. It is well known that a wide-spread dissatisfaction exists among his Kentucky and Tennessee troops. They are already deserting in large numbers. A retreat would greatly increase both the desire and the opportunity for desertion, and would very materially reduce his physical and moral strength. While it would lengthen our line of communications it would give us possession of McMinnsville, and enable us to threaten Chattanooga and East Tennessee; and [320] it would not be unreasonable to expect an early occupation of the former place.

5. But the chances are more than even that a sudden and rapid movement would compel a general engagement, and the defeat of Bragg would be in the highest degree disastrous to the rebellion.

6. The turbulent aspect of politics in the loyal states renders a decisive blow against the enemy at this time of the highest importance to the success of the government at the polls, and in the enforcement of the Conscription Act.

7. The government and the war department believe that this army ought to move upon the enemy — the army desires it, and the country is anxiously hoping for it.

8. Our true objective point is the rebel army, whose last reserves are substantially in the field, and an effective blow will crush the shell, and soon be followed by the collapse of the rebel government.

9. You have, in my judgment, wisely delayed a general movement hitherto till your army could be massed and your cavalry could be mounted. Your Mobile force can now be concentrated in twenty-four hours, and your cavalry, if not equal in numerical strength to that of the enemy, is greatly superior in efficiency and morale.

For these reasons, I believe an immediate advance of all our available forces is advisable, and, under the providence of God will be successful.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. A. Garfield, Brigadier-General, Chief of Staff. Major-General Rosecrans, Commanding Department Cumberland. Official:
E. D. Townsend, Assistant Adjutant-General.

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