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[253] at Franklin. Subsequent operations have shown how little fight was then left in his army, and have taken that little out of it. He now has not more than fifteen thousand infantry, about ten thousand of whom only are armed, and they greatly demoralized. With time to reorganize and recruit, he could not probably raise his force to more than half the strength he had at Franklin.

General Thomas has assigned several new regiments to my command, and I hope soon to make them effective by distributing them in old brigades. I will have from fifteen to eighteen thousand effective men, two thirds of whom are the veterans of the campaigns of East Tennessee and Georgia: a small force, it is true, yet one which would at least be an appreciable addition to your army in Virginia or elsewhere where decisive work is to be done.

It may not be practicable now for me to join General Sherman, but it would not be difficult to transfer my command to Virginia.

I am aware that General Thomas contemplates a ‘spring campaign’ into Alabama or Mississippi, with the Tennessee River as a base, and believe he considers my command a necessary part of the operating force. Without reference to the latter point, permit me to express the opinion that such a campaign would not be an economical or advantageous use of so many troops.

If aggressive operations are to be continued in the Gulf States, it appears to me it would be much better to take Mobile and operate from that point, thus striking vital points, if there are any such, of rebel territory by much shorter lines.

But it appears to me that Lee's army is virtually all that is left of the rebellion. If we can concentrate force enough to destroy that, we will destroy with it the rebel government, and the occupation of the whole South will then be but a matter of a few weeks' time.

Excuse, General, the liberty I have taken in expressing my views thus freely and unsolicited. I have no other motive than a desire for the nation's good, and a personal wish to serve where my little command can do the most.

The change I suggest would of course deprive me of my department command, but this would be a small loss to me or to the service. The present arrangement is an unsatisfactory one at best. Nominally I command both a department and an army


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