Today in History:

8 Series I Volume XXIII-I Serial 34 - Tullahoma Campaign Part I

Page 8 KY., MID. AND E. TENN., N. ALA., AND SW. VA. Chapter XXXV.

to East Tennessee. For various reasons he preferred to postpone his movement until the termination of the siege of Vicksburg.

In order to avoid any misunderstanding of the orders given to General Rosecrans on this subject, I submit the following correspondence:


Major General H. W. HALLECK,


Your dispatch of to-day 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 300 remain to be mounted. The Fifth Iowa, ordered up from Donelson, 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: 1st. From your best information, do you think the enemy materially weakened in our front? 2nd. Do you think this army can advance, at this time, with reasonable prospect of fighting a great and successful battle? 3rd. Do you think an advance advisable at this time?

To the first, eleven answered no; six yes, to the extent of 10,000. To the second, four yes, with doubts; thirteen No. The third, not one yes; seventeen no.

Not one thinks an advance advisable until Vicksburg;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 thank-full 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 have your suggestion.



WASHINGTON, June 12, 1863.

Major-General ROSECRANS, Murfreesborough, Tenn.:

GENERAL: Your telegram of yesterday is just received.

I do not understand your application of the military maxim "not 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 you. 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 troops absent, you will not be able to fight him after the affair at Vicksburg 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 of inactivity, with your force 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 nod 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 re-enforcements to Johnston?

I do not write this in a spirit of fault-finding, 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,




*See Addenda, p. 10.


Page 8 KY., MID. AND E. TENN., N. ALA., AND SW. VA. Chapter XXXV.