Doc. 53.-Beauregade's letter to Pierre Soule.
headquarters Drpartment of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, Charleston, S. C., December 8, 1863.My dear Sir: In compliance with your request made on the eve of your departure for Richmond, I have prepared for you a sketch of certain operations by which we may yet retrieve our late losses, and possibly baffle the immense resources of men and available material of our enemy: 1. The system hitherto followed of keeping in the field separate armies, acting without concert on distant and diverging lines of operations, and thus enabling our adversary to concentrate at convenience his masses against our fractions, must be discontinued as radically contrary to the principles of the art of war, and attended with inevitable results such as our disasters in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Northern Georgia. 2. We must arrange for a sudden and rapid concentration, upon some selected, decisive strategic point of the theatre of war, of enough troops to crush the forces of the enemy embodied in that quarter. This must necessarily  be done at the expense or hazard, for the time, of other points less important, or offering less advantages; for striking the enemy a blow thus struck will necessarily disorganize his combinations and give us the choice of the field of operations. I am sensibly aware of our limited means, our want of men, the material appliances of war and of transportation, and hence the difficulties which will embarrass us in the execution of this plan of concentration; but I see no way to success except through and by it. A different course may indeed protract the contest, which will become day by day more unequal; we may fight stoutly, as hitherto, many more bloody and indecisive battles, but will never win a signal, conclusive victory, until we can manage to throw a heavy and overwhelming mass of our forces upon the fractions of the enemy, and at the same time successfully strike at his communications, without exposing our own. I believe this may yet be done. Not knowing, however, our present available forces, and their locations, I am unable to make a definite or detailed plan of operations. But I believe I am warranted in assuming that we have under arms two hundred and ten thousand effective men, distributed nearly as follows:
Hon. Pierre Soule, Richmond, Va.:
Hon. Pierre Soule, Richmond, Va.:
|In the Trans-Mississippi Department, say||40,000|
|Department of Alabama and Mississippi, say||15,000|
|Under Hardee (including Longstreet), say||60,000|
|Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, say||28,000|
|Department of North Carolina, say||7,000|
|Department of Virginia, say||60,000|
|From Alabama and Mississippi||10,000|
|From South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida||8,000|
|From North Carolina||2,000|
The enemy increaseth every day,I am filled with intense anxiety lest golden opportunities shall be lost — lost forever. In no theatre of human actions is it so true as in war--
We, at the height, are ready to decline.
There is a tide in the affairs of men,It is concentration and immediate mobility that are indispensable to save us. Yours, sincerely,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
* * * * * *
And we must take the current where it serves,
Or lose our ventures.