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‘ [2] of the War,’ that contains a number of errors, which I desire to correct so far as they relate to me, and I will refer to them in the order they are related in the paper. I quote:

First—‘After Polk's corps had taken the position assigned to it on the left of Hood's corps and in the rear of Cassville, General S. G. French, one of the division generals of the corps, sent a report to General Polk that his position was enfiladed and that he could not hold it.’

Any line can be enfiladed if the enemy be permitted, undisturbed, to approach near enough and establish batteries on the prolongation of that line. Therefore, before any person can report a line enfiladed the guns must be near enough to sweep it with shells. To report that a point near the center of a long line of battle cannot be held before the issue is made is mere conjecture, and not justifiable, and I have no recollection of having made such a report, and deem the writer is in error in his statement. A man would not cry out ‘Help me Cassius or I sink’ before entering the water.

Second—The next assertion is that General Polk ‘sent Colonel Sevier to ascertain about it, and this officer reported back that, in his opinion, General French was warranted in his apprehension. General Polk thereupon requested Colonel Sevier to proceed to General Johnston's headquarters and place the facts before him, which that officer did. General Johnston was loath to believe in the impossibility of holding that part of the line, etc., * * * and instructed Colonel Sevier to have General French build traverses. This general considered them useless, and persisted in his inability to hold the position.’

In answer to this, I repeat that I have no recollection of having made to any human being the remarks here attributed to me. How in the name of common sense could any division officer report, much less persist, as stated? How would he know but that, if necessary, during the battle ample support would be sent him? I had one brigade and a half in reserve at that point of the line. As for traverses I never heard them mentioned before in reference to this line. And now, after your writer has sent Colonel Sevier to me twice, he sends to me Major West, and it was before any firing had taken place, and he (West) could, very properly, ‘form no opinion unless he could witness the fire of the enemy's guns.’ West returned to General

Polk, reporting General French highly wrought up about the exposure


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Leonidas Polk (5)
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S. G. French (4)
Joseph E. Johnston (2)
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