On the twenty-second of May, Major-General Stanley made a raid upon Middleton, capturing eighty prisoners, three hundred horses, six hundred stand of arms, and other property. On the fourth of June, the rebel General Forrest made a raid on Franklin, and on the eleventh attacked Triune. His losses in these unsuccessful skirmishes were estimated at over one hundred, while ours was only seventeen killed and wounded. While General Grant was operating before Vicksburgh, information, deemed reliable, was received from captured rebel correspondence, that large detachments were being drawn from Bragg's army to reenforce Johnston in Mississippi. Reenforcements were sent to General Grant from other armies in the West, but General Rosecrans's army was left intact, in order that he might take advantage of Bragg's diminished numbers, and drive him back into Georgia, and thus rescue loyal East-Tennessee from the hands of the rebels, an object which the Government has kept constantly in view from the beginning of the war. I therefore urged General Rosecrans to take advantage of this opportunity to carry out his long projected movement, informing him that General Burnside would cooperate with his force, moving from Kentucky to East-Tennessee. For Various reasons he preferred to postpone his movements until the termination of the siege of Vicksburgh. In order to avoid any misunderstanding of the orders given to General Rosecrans on this subject, I submit the following correspondence:
Murfreesboro, Tenn., June 11, 1863.Your despatch of to-day is received. You remember, I gave you, as a necessary condition of success, an adequate cavalry force; since that time I have not lost a moment in mounting our dismounted cavalry as fast as we could get horses — not more than three hundred remain to be mounted. The Fifth Iowa, ordered up from Donaldson, arrived to-day. The First Wisconsin will be here by Saturday. My preliminary infantry movements have nearly all been completed, and I am preparing to strike a blow that will tell. But to show you how differently things are viewed here, I called on my corps and division commanders and generals of cavalry for answers in writing to these questions: First. From your best information, do you think the enemy materially weakened in our front? Second, Do you think this army can advance, at this time, with reasonable prospect of fighting a great and successful battle? Third, do you think an advance advisable at this time? To the first, eleven answered no; six yes, to the extent of ten thousand. To the second, four yes, with doubts; thirteen no. To the third, not one yes ; seventeen no. Not one thinks an advance advisable until Vickburgh's fate is determined. Admitting these officers to have a reasonable share of military sagacity, courage, and patriotism, you perceive that there are graver and stronger reasons than probably appear at Washington, for the attitude of this army. I therefore counsel caution and patience at headquarters. Better wait a little to get all we can ready to insure the best results, if, by so doing, we perforce of Providence, observe a great military maxim: “Not to risk two great and decisive battles at the same time.” We might have cause to be thankful for it. At all events, you see that to expect success I must have such thorough grounds, that when I say forward, my word will inspire conviction and confidence, where both are now wanting. I should like to hear your suggestion.
Washington, June 12.General: Your telegram of yesterday is just received. I do not understand your application of the military maxim: “Not to fight two great battles at the same time.” It will apply to a single army, but not to two armies acting independently of each other. Johnston and Bragg are acting on interior lines between you and Grant, and it is for their interest, not ours, that they should fight at different times so as to use the same force against both of them. It is for our interest to fight them, if possible, while divided. If you are not strong enough to fight Bragg with a part of his force absent, you will not be able to fight him after the affair at Vicksburgh is over and his troops return to your front. There is another military maxim, that councils of war never fight. If you say that you are not prepared to fight Bragg, I shall not order you to do so, for the responsibility of fighting or refusing to fight at a particular time or place must rest upon the general in immediate command. It cannot be shared by a council of war, nor will the authorities here make you fight against your will. You ask me to counsel them caution and patience. I have done so very often. But after five or six months inactivity, with your forces all the time diminishing, and no hope of any immediate increase, you must not be surprised that their patience is pretty well exhausted. If you do not deem it prudent to risk a general battle with Bragg, why can you not harass him, or make such demonstrations as to prevent his sending more reenforcements to Johnston? I do not write this in a spirit of faultfinding, but to assure you that the prolonged inactivity of so large an army in the field, is causing much complaint and dissatisfaction, not only in Washington, but throughout the country. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
headquarters Department of the Cumberland, Murfreesboro, June 21.General: In your favor of the twelfth instant, you say you do not see how the maxim of not fighting two great battles at the same time applies to the case of this army and Grant's.